A couple weeks ago I spoke at Trinity CRC about the time Jesus feeds 5000 people with five loaves and a couple fish. Each time I read the story in the Gospel of Mark, I cannot help but hear echoes of Psalm 23. If there were only one or two allusions to this well-known psalm, maybe you could call it a coincidence; but with at least three or four allusions, it seems to me that Mark is intentionally trying to get his readers to connect these two texts.
If you also consider the context of Mark 6:30-44 in which King Herod has John the Baptist beheaded during a banquet he throws for his high officials, you could add another allusion to Psalm 23 – namely the part about being in the presence of one’s enemies (vs. 5).
Why does Mark invite us to connect Psalm 23 with this part of his Gospel? In his commentary on Mark, David E. Garland says that “the principle task of a shepherd is to bring sheep to food and water. Jesus … is the true shepherd who feeds His sheep so that they may ‘not be in want’” (p. 255).
I love how Mark describes the crowd: They eat and are “satisfied” (vs. 42). Regardless of circumstances, Jesus satisfies better than anyone or anything else! We see it happening in Mark 6 and, in case we miss it, the Gospel writer points us to Psalm 23 that we may recognize Jesus as the Good Shepherd and call Him our loving, providing Lord.–
Do you see more connections between Psalm 23 and Mark 6? Please share them in the comments below!