There’s a reason this is the most famous Psalm, and one of the most quoted passages of scripture ever.
In six verses, the 23rd Psalm takes us through contentment, restoration for our soul, hope in the valleys of life, and the promise of eternal life.
While much could be written on this Psalm, I’d like to offer just a couple observations and thoughts for prayer:
First of all, don’t overlook the Shepherd/sheep relationship in this Psalm. Note what Phillip Keller write in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23: “It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep. The behavior of sheep and human beings is similar in many ways…our mass mind (or mob instincts), our fears and timidity, our stubbornness and stupidity, our perverse habits are all parallels of profound importance. Yet despite these adverse characteristics Christ chooses us, buys us, calls us by name, makes us His own and delights in caring for us” (pg. 7).
Prayerfully read this Psalm, knowing that the Good Shepherd loves you despite how you have sinned against Him. He is your shepherd, caring for you and leading you to still waters to restore your soul each day.
This leads me to my second point – He wants to lead you beside still waters and restore your soul – let Him. Phillip Keller says we are all thirsty but are often not sure where to go to quench our thirst. He says we will “often drink from any dirty pool to try and satisfy our thirst for fulfillment” (pg. 41). Yet, “the good shepherd, the diligent manager, makes sure that his sheep can be out and grazing on dew-drenched vegetation” (pg. 42). Those in this life who are “the most serene, most confident and able to cope with life’s complexities are those who rise early each day to feed on God’s word. It is in the quiet, early hours of the morning that they are led beside the quiet, still waters where they imbibe the very life of Christ for the day” (pgs. 42-43).
My challenge to you this week is to get alone with God – preferably by a body of water or a stream, and prayerfully mediate on this Psalm.
Let Jesus speak to you through it. Let Him draw you nearer, restore you, lead you through the dark valley if you’re in one, and remind you of the promise of eternal life.
Psalm 23 – A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, F45
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 my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD