The 23rd Psalm

The 23rd Psalm is the most recognized and most quoted passage of scripture of all time. I wanted to share some things about this common passage of scripture. The New International Version/ Kings James Version of the passage is as follows:

1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing/ I shall not want

2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.

3 – He refreshes/restores my soul. He leads me along right paths for his name’s sake.

4 – Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 mine enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 – Surely your goodness and love/mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

My Interpretation

1 – Sheep only have one master, and it’s the shepherd. They know the sound of that shepherd’s voice among all other voices. In the old days, many shepherds would gather their flocks together at night and put all the different flocks of sheep in the same place. To an outsider, all the sheep looked the same. In the morning, each shepherd would call his flock and amazingly the sheep that belong to that shepherd would emerge from all the other sheep and come together. The sheep never lacked anything, and the shepherd guarded over them. The sheep knew he had everything under control.

Wouldn’t it be great to not want or need anything? That is the image of pure peace in this passage of scripture. The Lord is saying, let me lead and just follow me.

2 – The image of green pastures and quiet waters illustrate the safest places for sheep. Their coats are wool and absorb water; sheep will not drink water from a fast-flowing stream because their coats absorb the water and they could sink to the bottom and drown. Therefore, the image of the quiet water is the only place sheep can drink from; the green pasture is a place of comfort and out of harm’s way.

3 – If we let him, he will restore and refresh our soul, and he will lead us on the right paths. To have your soul restored, you need a period to get your relationship with God back in order. You need a new revelation from God on what the next steps in your life are.

4 – I will fear no evil. Rather, I choose to fear no evil because you are with me. A shepherd uses his rod and staff for many things, like fighting off wild animals or nudging a sheep back on the right path. I find it interesting that we sometimes want to shepherd our own lives without him. If you are in front of the shepherd, you can’t see the rod and staff because they are behind you. The only way to be safe and live without fear is if he is allowed to be in front so you can see him, his rod, and his staff.

5 – Are your enemies in heaven? No, they are here on earth. This passage says: he will see to it that your enemies see you being taken care of by the living God and your cup of life will literally overflow. However, if you want to take this into your own hands and say bad things on Facebook about someone and talk about others behind their back, you are on your own. If you let him lead, he will handle everything. Today, my cup is overflowing because God has been so good to me and my family.

6 – This verse is a confession of faith that God will give you his goodness and mercy every day of your life. As with much of life, it’s a decision and a choice. I choose him, and I choose to dwell with the Lord. KT

One thought on “The 23rd Psalm

  1. Several years ago I had a book on the characteristics of the Eastern shepherds (what you have just described). Quoting the 23rd Psalm to myself and remembering all the things “The Shepherd” does for us has helped me through some difficult times. Thank you for reminding me.

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