Psalm 23 is the most famous of all the Psalms for a good reason. It is a beautiful song of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. It brings comfort and hope in times of darkness. Be reminded again of what it means to look to the Lord as your Shepherd.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
We are like wandering, needy sheep; the Lord is the Shepherd we need. When we look to him, we lack nothing we need. The Shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures and quiet waters. Rest when you’re weary, refreshment in your work, rejuvenation to continue doing what he’s prepared for you. He restores your soul. The Shepherd leads you on the right path, for his glory and his name’s sake.
Even 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.
Following the Shepherd doesn’t mean there are never hard times. Sometimes we have to pass through a narrow ravine with walls so high that they light is almost completely blocked out. The shadow of death is the only thing we can see. Yet, even in this dark place, you don’t need to fear any evil because your fierce Shepherd is with you! His weapons and tools will comfort you – his rod to beat off the enemies and his staff to guide you and draw you in close.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The imagery now shifts to a magnificent banquet after a great battle. The table is prepared to celebrate victory right in front of the defeated enemies. The host is lavish – anointing our heads with fragrant oil, filling our drink glasses again and again until they overflow. What a celebration! Surely the goodness and mercy of God will go with you every day of your life! Because of God’s grace, you will dwell in the Lord’s house forever and ever!
What a joy and a comfort to read and pray this Psalm, knowing that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads and cares for us! He declared, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11). He walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and now he leads us through the valley to the place of green pastures and quiet waters. Look to your Shepherd Jesus and want for nothing!
“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
– 1 Peter 2:25