Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd

Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd

by Daira Curran

  • Pin this page1
  • Share this on Google+0
  • 1

There is a famous psalm written by David that, if written in today, would be Christian music’s number one hit – a multi-platinum recording. It is Psalm 23 and perhaps you have heard of it’s lyrics? There can be no question that this song beautifully expresses the goodness of trusting in a personal shepherd. But, I understand that a shepherd probably holds very little weight for those of us in a busy city or even a quiet suburban town. So, let’s modernize this reference that David, and later Jesus, used. Instead of calling the main character a good shepherd, lets exchange it for the word ‘bodyguard.’ The idea of a constant protector is what David was communicating and David, a once shepherd-boy turned mighty king, understood the importance in taking care of helpless animals. David also knew that the Lord was faithful in providing and watching over him.

Can we echo this response when we find ourselves running or hiding in metaphorical caves? Can we echo this when we feel forgotten or lost? Hopefully, we aren’t only proclaiming the following words found in Psalm 23 when life is working in our favor. For the truth is, these words can produce the most power in our lives when we feel the very weakest. Let’s take a look at each well chosen lyric to further understand David’s words to God:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

There is truly so much wisdom to be gained from these verses, especially when we attempt to discover God in our lowest of moments, calling Him our forever Lord. Below, let’s look at just the first half of verse one, dissecting what David felt:

THE

Notice that David begins by saying that the Lord is His shepherd. He is emphasizing the word “THE” because He is well aware that there is no one else but God who can protect him from life’s snares and pitfalls. Do we truly live this way? Do we camouflage this protection with other things that bring about a false sense of security? Truly, God is THE only thing that can bring about comfort and peace. Can we call Him the one and only thing that we need?

LORD

Next, David chooses the title for God Almighty as “LORD,” which means master or owner. While David could have chosen many adjectives to describe the God he knew intimately, he chose to call Him Master. I immediately think of a subject serving a King when I hear this title and I truly believe that this was the reverence and honor that David was broadcasting in this opening line. How can we make God our Lord? While we often call Him Savior and Lord, Savior implies that we can do nothing but admit He saved us undeservingly from our sins, but Lord requires action on our behalf. We must place God in the highest position of our lives at all times, surrendering to Him as Lord like David did. How can we begin to make God our Lord each and every day?

IS

David didn’t stop there. David continues by clearly communicating that THE one and only LORD, master and owner of his soul, IS. This word IS implies a present tense. David is not saying he remembers God was his provider when he felt God’s direction more clearly. Instead, the Lord IS, which means currently. God is always present and personally with us just like a bodyguard protecting a celebrity from crazy fans. Sometimes we may feel like we need a constant hand to hold when life is pulling us in a thousand directions, while other times we may feel invisible, looking for His hand to grasp us tightly. David was vocal in the moments when he felt forsaken by God, yet He never ceased to praise an ever present Lord… even when He couldn’t feel God’s presence. David believed God was always there. How can we acknowledge God’s presence in our lives regardless of our circumstances or emotions?

MY

The next word is MY, which is very personal. MY house, or MY children, implies it is yours to claim. The Lord was David’s personal claim. This cannot come without a solid relationship. Yes, relationships go through highs and lows, but knowing that a relationship is yours, much like a marriage, can bring a sense of forever commitment which brings about true joy. Do you call Jesus yours?

SHEPHERD

David uses a word we often lack connection with, which is the word SHEPHERD. A shepherd has a responsibility and obligation to care for animals who would otherwise roam without guidance. We are the sheep. We can easily be led astray and we need someone to direct us. David saw himself in this manner; wouldn’t you also admit this to be true in your own life?

I’d like to close by putting some thought into the nature of a sheep, so that the real attention can be placed solely on the importance of a shepherd.  I am assuming you haven’t spent much time with sheep recently, so I went to this website called Sheep101 (yes, there is such a thing) and this is what I learned,

“Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them. When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock usually follows, even if it is not a good decision. For example, sheep will follow each other to slaughter. If one sheep jumps over a cliff, the others are likely to follow. Even from birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the older members of the flock. This instinct is ‘hard-wired’ into sheep. It’s not something they think about.”

I can now further identity with my sheep-like nature, can’t you? I can find myself listening to others instead of listening to what God has to say about me. I then end up following mere men instead of following God’s perfect plan. If you are any thing like me, you have once or twice blindly wandered somewhere you’d never thought you’d be because you forgot to seek true wisdom. If not for the grace of God, I could follow my flesh and others around me, right until the end of my time. I am very akin to a sheep. Thus, I am forever thankful for a loving shepherd who leads me in the right direction. I believe that David hand selected these wonderful words, “the Lord is my shepherd” to remind himself of God’s goodness. Will you also proclaim this promising song over your life today?

  • jrzgrl

    At worship yesterday we were asked what can God do to make us happy. As I pondered the question this morning Psalm 23 came to mind. David gives us/me the answer: I shall not want for anything for the LORD IS MY SHEPARD.After reading the psalm, I found your site, beautifully written. Please continue with the remainder of the psalm.

  • tkhk3746

    Everyone’s interpretation of this Psalm is probably a bit different. However, since my dad went home to be with the Lord eight months ago, I awoke one morning realizing I had been dreaming about this Psalm that someone was reading it to me in my dream.

    I then realized it was my dad’s voice. This Psalm has taken on a new meaning to me. I read it daily realizing that this verse really is your reward in heaven. Once you are with the Lord, He really IS your daily shepherd. You have No want in heaven. I can imagine the beautiful heavenly green pastures you can lie down in…and the beautiful crystal clear water still waters in Heaven….and I know once we are in the presence of the Lord our souls are restored. When you are in heaven, every path is righteous for his name sake. WHEN you walk through the shadow of death, I know my dad did not fear any evil b/c his angel and the lord was with him. His cup now runneth over for eternity and God’s mercy and goodness will be with him for all the days of his heavenly life….and he REALLY IS dwelling in the House of the Lord forever!

    • Jonathan Cates

      My dad will have went home to be with our Lord and Savior for 2 years in July. While he was laying at home he mentioned seeing his sister, who had passed on a few years before him, in the room that my step mom put him in and one day he said to them that he saw her come in and start cleaning his room. Some people thought he was joking, he use to be a sort of a funny man and joke all the time, but he had this look of confusion (I really can not explain the look but please excuse me if I give a poor description of it), joy, and peacefulness while he told my wife and I the story. Some said it was the medicine making him see things that it was the lady who was watching him or the nurse. It upset him if I remember right, its been a while since it happen, so please bare with me . He said I am not imagining things, I know what I seen! I believed him, something came over me – I guess you could say a feeling and then with the way he looked made me a believer, then he said she would sit down and talk with him about things. He really never told us what they talked about, but I told him to please tell her that I love and miss her, I was trying in my own way to tell him I believe him whole heartedly.
      Well on the way home that night, I had this weird feeling I should have not said that and then again a dream that I do not remember but I do remember waking up thinking that she was not there for me, she was there to comfort my dad. So when my wife and I went to see him again I waited until he and I was alone and I asked if he remembered what I said about telling his sister hey and that I miss and love her – to please do not because she was not here for me but here for him and I was sorry for asking him to do that.
      After that his Home Hospice Nurse was with him one day when he asked her a question. When we came over she started telling us about it – She was reading a book while watching him and he had this look again come over his face and she asked him what was wrong, he said can you see it, and she asked him can I see what? Then he pointed up towards the ceiling and the corner of the walls where all three met and said that beautiful light! She said I do not see anything, but describe it to me. So he started telling her it was such a beautiful bright white light, so beautiful he had never seen anything like it before and asked her what was it, she said to him, it is heaven and this part I can not remember for sure if it was said but my memory says it did – but he asked her how do I get there and she said that you will be there soon enough. That’s all I can remember about that and the other things I rather keep to my self. But while he was being treated from Hospice, the medicine started not to work because of the other medicine he was taking was making it not work, so they had to transfer him to the Hospice house, which hurt us because he wanted to be at home when he passed but we all understood, so they could give him stronger medicine. to control his pain, while there he kept hanging on. I would go and see him and prasilently over him and talk softly to him and then just lay my hand over andhold his hand. Then one day, I felt something tell me to bring my bible so I did. While my wife and my step- mom where talking, I sat beside him and started reading Psalm 23:1-6 as if he were reading it himself. Trying to comfort him and afterwards I told him softly that we will be ok, that we did not want to see hhim continue hurting, that Jesus is there and will take all his pain away. After that his breathing changed and went more up into his chest and my wife and steo-mom stood up behind me and behind my dad . And then he slowly took his last breath and went home to be with Jesus. I was upset and crying, but I felt so much at peace for I knew he was with Christ without pain and no longer suffering. Later on, I was thinking about Psalms 23 – that was written by King David to help show us God is always with us and never leaving our side. Please do not think in any way I told this story to make it about me in any way, because its not and never will be. It is about how Gods Word can soothe and relax a person who is scared of letting go because he loves his family- his entire family!, that he was having such a hard time letting go and was willing to suffer for all his kids and his wife. And with him hearing that we would be okay and the comforting words of God, was all he needed to put him at ease. I love Psalm 23 and when you break it down it clearly states never be afraid for I Am (Christ Jesus) here with you and I will never let you go. I Am Always Here With You!! and as you stated my friend above He is dwelling in the House of the Lord Forever!!!

      So thank you tkhk 3746 for reminding me of that and the importance of Psalm 23 and how we should share it to comfort all who are both Suffering and Grieving to remind them Gods Glory is forever, seek your peace in that.

      • Lodina Britton

        Thank you all for sharing your stories. This has open my eyes in a new way to this amazing Psalm. I no longer read it fast or say it quickly from memory. Each word means something. Please continue teaching on the entire 23rd Psalm.

  • Quell Davis

    I love this psalm by King David ! A man after Gods own heart 🙂

  • Guest

    I love this psalm by King Davis ! A man after Gods own heart !

  • Theophilous

    These reflections are an excellent aid to my process of meditation in general, but specially on Psalm 23. This kind of approach and detail is exactly what I understand to be contemplated in Psalm 1, where David himself wrote: “(Happy is the man whose) delight is in the law of the Lord (on which) he meditates day and night.” Many thanks for the contribution.

  • Antman

    Great scriptural reference and pictorial of how the Lord is all our shepards if we choose him. Would love to know more Anthony_moore35@yahoo.com

  • Share

    Powerful! Thank you for the outstanding thoughts on Psalm 23:1.