Psalm 23

1. Yahweh is my Shepherd, I shall not want

This verse sums up the whole Psalm. Because God cares for us, we lack nothing and should be content. (John 10) Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, my sheep know me (thus God’s covenant name) and I lay down my life for my sheep.”

2. He makes me lie down in Green pastures

Phillip Keller says a sheep will not lie down unless they are free of four things:

Fear, friction with others, parasites and pests, and hunger

When our Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, it is a symbol that he gives comfort, rest and plenty. In order for Him to best achieve these things, He needs to be present. Our Shepherd is always present, never sleeping, always caring for us.

He leads me beside quiet waters

Quiet waters will be pure. They will be peaceful. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come unto me and drink.”

3. He restores my soul

“Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God” He will set upright. He will save, and repair the soul.

He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake

Sheep (and humans) are creatures of habit. Healthy sheep must be kept on the move so that bad habits don’t arise. If left to ourselves, we will go astray like sheep. But if our Shepherd leads us, we can stick to the paths of righteousness, and bring glory to His name.

4. Even thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil, for You are with me

Sometimes the paths of righteousness lead into danger or pain or sorrow, but we know we won’t be overcome by evil because the Good Shepherd is with us—always.

Your rod and staff comfort me

A rod was used by Shepherds, both as a defense and as a disciplinary tool. It’s comforting to know that God will defend us, and will also prevent us from leaving the path of righteousness. It was also used every day to count sheep.

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

A Shepherd often takes his sheep to a mesa (or table) where he has strewn minerals. We know the master has gone ahead to prepare the way, so that we will be safe and well-filled.

You anoint my head with oil

The oil keeps flies and other annoyances from bothering a sheep. Our Shepherd strengthens us to block out the buzzing world and focus on filling our minds with Him.

My cup runs over

Even in the presence of danger, Christians have been full of hope and praise—running over with the joy of the Lord.

6. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life

God has been merciful to us in giving His life for us. Won’t He continue to be merciful and good to us, all the days of our life on earth?

And I will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever.

“One thing I have asked of the Lord: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life.” After our life on earth ends, we have something even better to look forward to: We get to live in God’s house forever.

Yahweh is my Shepherd, I want nothing. Lord we know that you supply all our needs, according to the riches in Christ. You give us You Holy Spirit, and You guide us in Your ways. While we are following you we are safe, comfortable, well-fed and joyful, and if we stray you discipline us to bring us back. Thank You, Shepherd for Your tender care. Keep us free from worldly distractions. Lift up our souls, and let us bubble over with Your joy. Thank You for Your promise of eternal salvation. Glorify Your name. Amen.

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