Psalm 23

Psalm 23


  • King David, who wrote this Psalm, knew all about being a shepherd. That was his role growing up. He would tend, protect and care for his sheep.
  • He also knew, through many highs and lows, throughout his life, that he was just a sheep and needed a Shepperd
  • David had had the highs of defeating Goliath to the lows of running for his life and hiding in caves from Saul.
  • He had the honor of being King over all Israel, yet seen the lows of having his own son, rise up against him and take the throne.
  • He had known feast. He had known famine.
  • And yet through it all he could look back and write ‘the Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want’. What great confidence!
  • There is something about people who truly know their God. They know that it will be ok. They know that through all things, Jesus is a good shepherd. That is what God desires to work into your life.
  • It is what the Apostle Paul knew when he wrote: Philippians 4:6-7 – Philippians 4:11-13


Now I want to break this first verse up into each little section so that we can get a better grasp as to what David was saying.


The Lord (v1)
The first thing to note is the source of David’s comfort. It is ‘The LORD’ who is his shepherd! So many people place their trust and hope in all sorts of things. David had it right in placing his trust in the one true God who controls all things.


Is (v1)
Can you say that? Do you have the confidence to say that the almighty God IS your Shepherd right now? Not was, like He helped you in the past. Not will be, like you look forward to something He will do… but IS – present tense. David had extreme confidence in who God IS right now! Do you?

My (v1)
This is probably the best thing about this psalm… it is so personal! The wonderful discovery is that the Lord is not just a shepherd who looks after the entire flock, but He cares for me as well. He is that interested in each of His sheep! The other thing to note on this point is that the entire psalm is only valid for those who truly have Jesus as their shepherd. It’s not for the goats, it is for the sheep. Matthew 25:32-33 The promises are for those who have been born again…

Shepherd (v1)

How would you describe sheep? What is characteristic of them? They are dumb, dirty, defenseless and dependent. I have heard that they are the most stupid animal on the face of the earth. They can’t run all that fast, don’t have the greatest eye sight and, being basically defenseless, are fearful. And let’s not forget they are prone to wander. That’s the animal God choose which best represents you! They are in need of a good shepherd who will provide, protect, and guide.

I shall not want. (v1)

The meaning of this is that we know with GOD we won’t lack anything. Do you have this same confidence that David had? Everyone loves this Psalm. But do we believe it? This verse doesn’t mean that there will not be times of drought, valleys, difficulties and need— far from it… God loves you too much to just make things always easy! That seldom accomplishes His purposes and the rest of the Psalm show that these things do occur. But the confidence David had is that the great shepherd will always know what we need and when to provide it. Everything will be ok. He is in control.


Now look at verse 2 and 3 look where he leads


The green pastures and waters spoken of in this verse were often some distance apart and the shepherd would have to lead his flock to these places. They would travel from oasis to oasis.


He makes me… He leads me (v2)

Jesus our Shepherd is in the business of leading and bringing you to a place of rest. We often try to work things out in our little minds and end up working ourselves into a place of nervous exhaustion! We have to learn to sit back and thank Him once again. He makes me… He leads me. Now this place of rest is, first and foremost spiritually speaking, right in the midst of the problem. It doesn’t mean that anything outwardly has to change. What He is leading, guiding and teaching us is firstly about the inward change to the circumstance even if outwardly things remain the same. But we need to learn to lie down. We are smart enough to do this in the physical. When we get tired we take a rest. It makes sense. It works. But mentally and spiritually we can get really tired trying to work out all our problems and we don’t rest. We lie on our beds yet carry on the same thoughts inside. It leads to burn out, break downs and depression.


Lie down in green pastures… quiet waters (v2)

Thank Jesus our great Shepherd that He does bring us to green pastures and quiet waters. There are times, as the Psalm says, when He restores your soul spiritually. They are quiet waters… times when there are no waves and no troubles


He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (v3)

The path the shepherd takes is sheep on will lead the sheep to places of rest. Obviously this doesn’t mean that the track that the shepherd takes is always an easy one. Sometimes it goes through the dark valley but it is the right path. So God will always lead us into that which is right and that which is true. It is for ‘His name’s sake’ that He does this. Our lives should be a testimony to God Himself. These are the paths we should desire and actively seek.


When things get dark…


Even though I walk through the darkest valley other translation will say Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (V4)

As the shepherd led the sheep from oasis to oasis, this sometimes meant passing through narrow valleys that had steep cliff faces on each side. These valleys were often dark because of the shadow caused by the cliffs, and they were a favourite place for predators to hide in. This verse speaks to us of the trying times in our lives where there is darkness, confusion and fear. Notice however that the Psalmist says he ‘walks through’ this valley. He doesn’t stop, and he doesn’t give up hope. You may be in a dark place but you must keep walking. It’s not somewhere that you set up camp thinking that is all you will ever know. No, press on knowing that if there are shadows, there must be light around the corner causing them!


And it is in these dark times that it starts getting a lot more personal!


I will fear no evil, for you are with me (V4)

It becomes more personal in this valley! The wonder of wonders is that through the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives we can actually go through these times without fear! Well, having said that I should say that you will be free from fear to the degree that you know He is with you – rain, hail and shine. The first time through the dark valley is always scary. But it is there that you learn that though you may not be able to see the shepherd as well as normal, He can see you and is still protecting you! You are with me’ the Psalmist says and that is all that he needs to know.


Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (v4)

Two things gave comfort


  1. The Shepherds rod: The rod which the Shepherd carried was for protecting the sheep from predators. It was never used on the sheep. Do we not gain comfort from the fact that it is Almighty God who is our Shepherd? No robber, predator or enemy ever takes Him by surprise!


  1. The Shepherds staff: The staff was used by the Shepherd to direct the sheep in the way in which they should go, and, in the case of a wandering nosey sheep, to pull it back into line. Again, there is comfort in the fact that God directs us and even discipline us and puls us back into line! He loves us to much to let us wander


Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life (v6)

Wow! That is some revelation! Can you say that about your life? You will only be able to say that if you have truly come to know the Lord Jesus as your Shepherd. If you are truly one of His sheep then this verse is your verse as well! He will never, ever, leave you! His goodness and kindness will always follow you.


And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (v6)
And finally we have that which occurs after ‘the days of my life’. So our great Shepherd protects and provides for His sheep during their life on this earth. But there is a greater provision and far greater blessing still to come. Eternal life were we will be with GOD forever.


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