The Message of Psalm 23

A Popular Psalm

Psalm 23 is probably the most popular psalm in the Bible. There is so much being said in just a few verses. There have been books dedicated to just this one Psalm because of the meaning behind each verse and the powerful message behind it. The entire Bible is like that. That’s why it takes a lifetime to study it in depth. There is so much we can learn from it. When you dig deep into scripture and understand what God is trying to tell us then you get a craving for more. We can get a better understanding of God and what he wants from us.

The Bible tells us Jesus is the Good Shepard as we see in this Psalm. Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd;” and John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.”, we see that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not just watching over us but he will care for us and lead us on the right path. Sheep can recognize their shepherd just as we should recognize and know Jesus. Shepherds put a distinguishing mark on their sheep just as we have been marked by his love for us. And if you notice, the shepherd doesn’t pull the sheep by a leash and we aren’t forced to follow him because he give us a choice. We follow him by our own free will and hopefully we are surrounded by others who will walk with us as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Sometimes sheep have the urge to wander off in search of greener pastures. Not because they need something but because they are restless and are looking past what is right in front of them. Psalm 23 says, “I shall not want” and a good shepherd will provide for his sheep. Jesus will meet our deepest desires so that we don’t have to wander off searching for things we don’t need. In Matthew 6:25-27 he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Remember you are important to him and we must trust that he will care for us.

The Good Shepherd

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” – Psalm 23:2

Sheep are easily scared and need to feel safe in order to lie down and rest. Just like when we have a restless sleep because we hear a strange noise or if we are worried or stressed over something going on in our lives. We may not be able to lie down in peace until we feel comfortable and our worries are washed away. Only God knows how worried and scared we are and only he knows how to calm our restless minds and lead us towards the still waters. All we have to do is pray and ask him to give us the peace we seek.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3

The Psalms were songs for the Israelite where they would sing the praises of the Lord. I’m sure it would fill their hearts with joy and give them encouragement when singing of the wonderful things God has done for them just as we feel moved when we hear a song that reminds us of his love for us. A song can fill our hearts with joy that can’t be felt from just reading words on a piece of paper. There are songs we can listen to that remind us that Jesus will lead us if we will follow him. He will carry us when we are hurt and suffering. He will seek us out when we are on the wrong path and lead us back on the right path because when we decide to follow him, he promises to lead us, to take care of us and to fulfill all our needs. He is our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.

Fear No Evil

“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.” – Psalm 23:4

When we see a movie like The Lord of the Rings, where the hero is up against overwhelming odds, you may feel a bit scared for him but mostly you feel excited! When all seems lost and all hope seems to have vanished, you still have the hope that the hero will stand tall and the enemy will be defeated. You just don’t know how the hero will triumph but you know that he will. That is how our faith should be. Knowing God will be with us no matter how dark our situation may seem. When everything seems to be crashing down around you, just imagine God picking you up and carrying you through the darkness just like a shepherd carries a lamb to safety. The Good Shepherd watches over those he loves with a might rod leading his flock to peaceful pastures.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” – Psalm 23:5

David wrote this Psalm showing how he had put his complete trust in the Lord. His life showed us that trusting God can overcome any feelings of fear we may have. Even at a young age David wasn’t afraid to face his enemies like the giant Goliath. He knew that God provide for him while his enemies were seeking to destroy him. God not only provided for him but also for all of Israel as well. When they trusted in God and followed him, God would bless them abundantly. God made this promise to his people in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” That promise still stands today for all of us.

He Will Never Leave You

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6

King David is not describing ordinary goodness and mercy; he is describing God’s unconditional love for us, Agape love. No matter what King David did, God never left him. Isn’t that amazing and encouraging! King David had many struggles throughout his life but he kept coming back to God no matter how big his sins were. God showed him mercy and blessed not only him but his descendants as well.

Psalm 23 is a wonderful example of biblical encouragement wrapped up in 6 verses. It shows that God will be with us to guide us, comfort us and show us his love and mercy. No matter what is going on around us, he will be there surrounding us with his love.