1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters,
3 He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Christ’s relation to his people is often represented by the figure of a shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed . For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25
2. The Shepherd Psalm:
The Bible contains some of the finest lines of verse ever composed. Psalm 23 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 are the most popular poetry among them. Psalm 23 is the most memorized chapter of the Bible. David may have composed it as a youth while tending his father’s sheep. Or he may have written it later in reminiscence of his childhood as a shepherd boy.
3. Green pastures:
Green pastures or pastures of tender grass are mentioned, not in respect to food, but as places of cool and refreshing rest.
4. Quiet waters:
The quiet or still waters are, literally, “waters of stillness,” whose quiet flow invites to repose. They are contrasted with boisterous streams on the one hand, and stagnant, dirty or offensive pools on the other.
5. Restores my soul:
To restore the soul is to revive or relieve it.
“The law of the Lord is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the Lord are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.” Psalm 19:7
6. Paths of righteousness:
The paths of righteousness are those paths of safety, as directed by God, and pleasing to him.
7. For his name sake:
For His name’s sake or regard for his perfections is a pledge for the welfare of God’s people.
8. The shadow of death:
Even during the darkest and most trying hour of our lives God is ever near. The valley of the shadow of death is a ravine overhung by high precipitous cliffs, filled with dense forests, and well calculated to inspire dread to the timid, and afford a covert to beasts of prey. It is expressive of any great danger or cause of terror.
9. Your rod and your staff:
The rod and the staff are symbols of a shepherd’s office. By them he protects his sheep from beasts of prey, gently guides his sheep and prevents them from going astray.
10. A table:
A table is synonymous with food. This is another symbolic figure that expresses God’s care, provision and spiritual nourishment.
11. You anoint my head:
Oil and anointing with oil are the symbols of the Holy Spirit and gladness respectively.
12. A cup:
A cup represents abundance. It is prepared for the child of God, who may feast in spite of his enemies, confident that this favor will ever attend him.
13. Psalm 23 and you:
Look at the important key words of Psalm 23 and turn it into your very own personal psalm.
A. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am not alone. I am safe and provided for by the Lord… shepherd; not be in want.
B. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am at peace and feeding on the Word… lie down; pastures.
C. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am fellowshipping the Holy Spirit… quiet waters.
D. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am being renewed… restores.
E. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am surrendered in his will and living according to his commands.. guides.
F. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am confident that even when I go through times of uncertainty and distress he will never forsake me… shadow.
G. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am trusting his promises for he is ever faithful… fear no evil.
H. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am strengthened… comfort.
I. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am enjoying spiritual security… a table.
J. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am blessed and doing service to others for his glory… overflows.
K. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am confident and assured of his loving presence every day, every moment… all the days of my life.
L. Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am possessing eternal hope… forever.
This beautiful psalm most admirably sets before us, in its chief figure, that of a shepherd, the gentle, kind, and sure care extended to God’s people, who, as a shepherd, both rules and feeds them.
The word “psalm” means a song or a poem set to music. David, the author of about half the psalms in the Book of Psalms, was a skilled musician. He became known as “the sweet psalmist of Israel”. In reading David’s psalms one is also struck by David’s openness and honesty with the Lord. He does not try to hide his feelings, but pours out his heart to the Lord.
You too can pour out your heart to God. He knows and understands you better than you do yourself or anyone else in the world. Approach the loving God and tell him what is bothering or worrying you. In distress you can ask the Lord for help. Express your appreciation for his help, his mercy and his grace as well as your confidence in the Lord. A number of David’s psalms provide excellent patterns for praying. Christians find blessings in actually praying the words of the psalms. If you are going through a really uncertain and difficult time now, let “the Lord is my shepherd” be your prayer.