Psalm 23 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yes, 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs 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.”
If you’ve ever been to a Christian funeral I’m sure you have heard of Psalm 23, but it’s worth much more than just something to be read upon someone’s passing. This is a collection of verses that have deep meaning for everyday life and if you take this to heart, I promise it will help you to have a much closer relationship to our Heavenly Father.
Let us take a closer look into each of these verses:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” – Occasionally we as people can be ignorant sheep that are wondering sometimes aimlessly through life. Sheep are not necessarily known for their smarts or making good decisions and I don’t think there’s a one of us who could say much different about ourselves if we’re being honest. The Bible often uses the image of the good shepherd in relationship to God the Father. He is always looking after us and trying to lead us in the right direction. However, we should take comfort in knowing that He is quick to bring us back home and accept us into the fold when we occasionally stray. Also, we take heart in knowing that all of our needs can and will be met by our Heavenly Father. It is just as Christ himself said about the birds of the air in Matthew chapter 6. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Sheep are no different. We cannot out-work or out-give God. Don’t get me wrong, we are to do all that we are able to take care of ourselves and especially one another, but do not ever be discouraged when times get hard and we can’t seem to work hard enough. Our true needs will be fully met by our Good Shepherd.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters.” – This brings to mind abundance and peace. There’s nothing more inviting to sheep or even to most people than a lush, green field and calm waters flowing by. It is a profound difference from the craziness we have come to know in this everyday life of ours now. This verse shows you peace in a fully undisturbed landscape where all you would ever need is right there for you. Simply beautiful.
“He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – once again, complete and godly peace that we are blessed enough to experience on the outside soon finds its way into our hearts and restores what this world tries to take away from our souls. Our good shepherd takes us gently and leads us on the proper path not because we have earned that right, but because it pleases him. God is peace. God is love. He is staying true to Himself when He leads us and brings us into the way of His righteousness, no matter how badly we have strayed from that straight and narrow path.
“Yes, 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.” – This truly should be one of the most calming verses in this psalm. We will face times of trial and times of struggle in this life, but take heart because our God and Father is there with us through each and every moment. This is not saying that we won’t go through problems and won’t walk through the shadow of death. In fact it is telling us that we surely will, but through it all we are to be consoled by our Good Shepherd who is walking with us. At the ready, God has His rod. It is a sign of protection against enemies and evils that threaten our lives. God also carries his staff, also called a shepherd’s crook. It’s the curved stick that a shepherd carries that catches the sheep before they go to far astray and brings them back. Let us never wish for the Lord stop using this on our often wandering selves.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” – This verse plainly states that, just like the preceding verse, we will have problems in our lives. There will always be haters and naysayers around us when we are doing what is right, but that is OK. God is still protecting us from them and even enriching our lives in spite of them. Your enemies will be there, but take heart because your Lord has abundance waiting for you to sit down and partake in. Oil in the Bible is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. God will always bless you with His spirit because you are His child. When people look at you, let all of them see that your Heavenly Father has given you his spirit to the fullest! Your cup runneth over and will fall onto others when you are near to them.
“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.” – Let these words be what you say to yourself when you find yourself walking through those valleys and going through those trials. God has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you and that is a promise you can count on. No matter what this world throws at you and no matter how far away from Jesus you think you are, Christ’s goodness and mercy will track you down. May you always stand tall knowing that you are in your Savior’s hands and can never be snatched away.
This psalm is a perfect reminder that God loves you and will give you His absolute best. God has sworn this. These are His words. The blood of Jesus Christ upon the cross seals this promise and holds it at the ready for you to accept as His gift. It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s all about who you are as a member of His family; the shepherd’s flock. Know that you have an eternity of love and peace awaiting you, all because of your Good Shepherd.
God’s blessings to you.