“The Lord is my shepherd . . . .” Did you finish it? Most people can recite this beloved Psalm from memory. It is a comfort at funerals and a help in times of difficulty. What about this Psalm makes it so loved?
David, originally a keeper of sheep but then chosen by God to be King, wrote these well-known verses. It was David who declared, the Word of God was a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path. (Psalm 119:105)
With this in mind, let’s let look at the meaning conveyed in Psalm 23. This will enable the Word of God to lighten our way and brighten our path as we walk day by day.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and
I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
DEFINING WORDS GIVES A RICHER MEANING TO SCRIPTURE –
Here’s a sample list of words and their definitions from Psalm 23
- Shepherd – person who leads, guards, and escorts sheep vigilantly
- Want – desire, crave, be deficient
- Restoreth – gives back
- Leadeth – guides, be ahead of
- Righteousness – God’s approval
- Name – reputation
- Shadow – darkness of a shaded area
- Rod – correction
- Staff – support
- Comfort – console
- Table – a spread, a meal
- Enemies – binders, distressers
- Anoint – satisfy
- Oil – fruitful
- Goodness – bountifulness
- Mercy – loving-kindness
PSALM 23 WITH LIGHTENED AND BRIGHTENED MEANING
The Lord God, Maker of Heaven and earth, is my leader, guard, and the One who vigilantly escorts me. I shall not desire, crave, be deficient, or need anything.
He causes me to rest in places of nourishment. He escorts me beside tranquil refreshment.
He gives life back to me, gives me meaning and purpose. He goes before me in the way of God’s approval because of who He is and the greatness of His reputation.
Even when I walk in the shadow, the place where the light is hidden. Even when I walk in the places where there is something blocking the light, I will not be afraid of something bad coming my way or happening. I’m not afraid because my shepherd is with me. My leader, guard, and the One who vigilantly escorts me is with me. It is not that nothing evil or bad will ever happen to me. It is that I’m not going to be afraid of the evil. I’m not afraid of the evil because the One who with me is greater than the evil, stronger than power of darkness, and more right than the wrong. This One who is with me corrects me and supports me which gives me great consolation. My trust and confidence is not in my freedom from calamity but my help and protection is from the One who is with me.
The One with me makes a table of provision, meal-time spread in front of me. He does this even when the ones who distress me, desire to cause me harm, and bind me are close to me, bothering, and harassing me. The one who is escorting me vigilantly satisfy my ruling principles with fruitful living. The holding tank I have is full and running over. I am sufficiently supplied with all good and precious things that supply my every need.
It is absolutely apparent bountifulness and loving-kindness shall follow me. It shall splash all out of my holding tank all the days of my existence. Then, after I have been full to overflowing, I will also remain in the family of the Maker of Heaven and Earth forever.
What makes this Psalm so comforting and loved?
The sheep didn’t do anything but follow, cling, and cleave. Did you notice who was doing all the action in Psalm 23? It was the Lord, the Shepherd doing all that was being done. The sheep didn’t earn or deserve this place in the care and protection of the shepherd. We do not do anything to earn the provision and protection of our Shepherd.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Psalm 23 is so loved because it speaks so highly of the love God sets upon His people. David, the writer of this Psalm, experienced first hand the continual love, care, and protection of his vigilant escort. Even when David disobeyed and walked away, God went after him to bring him back. David agreed with God that he had left the care and protection of the Savior.
If you today have never come into the love and care of the great Shepherd of the sheep, He welcomes you today. If you have come into His love and care and have drifted away, He welcomes you today.
HOW TO BE A SHEEP OF GOD
- Agree with God you do not deserve to be under His care. (Romans 3:23)
- Recognize that God is the maker of heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1)
- Believe God sent Jesus because he wanted to be your Shepherd, your guide to eternal life, bountifulness, and fruitfulness. (John 3:16)
- Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to have eternal protection from evil. (Acts 16:31)
- Believing comes by faith, and faith comes by hearing God’s Word. (Romans 10:17)
- Hear and do the words of God. (Matthew 7:24-27)
- When you love God, you will cling and stay close to Him and do all He says. (John 14:15)
- Be God’s sheep by hearing Him and following all He says in His Word. (John 10:27)
Psalm 23 is so loved because it so well describes God’s great compassion and kindness to vigilantly escort through all of life and eternity those who depend on Him.