No other Psalm is so widely loved and remembered as Psalm 23. Christians, Jews and many unbelievers could probably recite Psalm 23 from memory with little effort. In just 6 short verses, the completeness of God’s love for mankind is encapsulated.
Written by David, the poem borrows heavily from the memories he had as a young shepherd tending his father’s sheep. David reveals the important role the shepherd plays in protecting and providing for his flock.
You can read Psalm 23 a thousand times in hundreds of Bible translations and the Holy Spirit would still reveal some new and wonderful revelation to your spirit about God’s goodness. I encourage you to read it often.
The Lord is my shepherd; (Psalm 23:1 KJV)
If Jesus is the Lord of your life, you can be certain that he is your GOOD shepherd, guiding, providing, and protecting you. Jesus often referred to himself this way, especially in John 10:1-21 where he contrasts the GOOD shepherd from the thief. The sheep that know the GOOD shepherd hear his voice and follow him.
I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1 KJV)
I like the rendering of the Aramaic Bible in English for this verse – “I shall lack nothing.” What a wonderful promise when you consider how much lack there is in the world. Jesus came to provide ALL your spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs. Under the GOOD shepherd’s care, you truly lack NOTHING! There are many promises and examples of God providing for His children’s needs. But God wants you to grow beyond just the need stage, to where He is supplying your wants and desires too! He wants you so Blessed that you have an ever growing abundance, more than you would ever need or dream possible, so that He can use you as an instrument to Bless others. A life of lack makes it very difficult to be the giver and receiver, and sower and reaper, that God made you to be. God is El Shaddai – the God that is MORE THAN ENOUGH, or the ALL SUFFICIENT ONE, and Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:13-14) – the God THAT PROVIDES. He is not a deadbeat dad, nor does He want His children to wallow in poverty, lack, and selfish greed. (Genesis 24:35, Genesis 26:12-13, Deuteronomy 28:1-14, 1 Kings 3:13, Psalm 34, Psalm 37:4, Psalm 84, Psalm 85, Psalm 103, Psalm 112, Proverbs 3, Proverbs 8, Proverbs 10, Proverbs 11:24-25, Proverbs 19:17, Malachi 3:10, Matthew 6, Mark 10:27-31, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9, Galatians 6:6-10, Ephesians 3, Ephesians 4:17-32, Philippians 4:4-20, 1 Timothy 6)
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23:2 NLT)
Sheep, like humans, are easily spooked. Alone, they are defenseless against a number of predators. They need the protection and watchful eye of the GOOD shepherd. If you listen for the voice of the GOOD shepherd, and remember, his sheep hear his voice, he will guide you to your place of peace. He will provide the living water you need to experience the abundant life he promised. (Psalm 36:8, Isaiah 49:10, John 4, John 10, Revelation 7:17)
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3 AMP)
David goes from discussing temporal needs to spiritual needs. And again, the GOOD shepherd has provided everything. By his sacrifice and God’s mercy, we are new creations. By faith in the GOOD shepherd we are made righteous, or in right standing, with God. As promised, the GOOD shepherd laid down his life for the sheep. All who believe in him are reborn into God’s family. All like sheep had gone astray. They were all spiritually dead because of Adam and Eve’s sin. But all that believe in the Good shepherd are made spiritually alive in Christ. Praise God! (Psalm 103:3-12, Isaiah 1:18, John 3:1-21, Romans 3:20-31, 6:5-11, 8:1-2, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18)
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 NIV)
Many people, even sometimes Believers, live a life full of fear. Whenever any trouble arises they want to settle down and live in the valley of the shadow of death. We are supposed to go THROUGH the dark valley, fearless of any shadow because the GOOD shepherd has defeated the enemy for us. All the enemy has is fear and deception. He is LIKE a lion, toothless and claw-less unless we empower him with our foolish words or actions. We overcome him by the blood of Jesus and the Word. Our faith in Jesus guarantees our victory over the enemy every time!
The rod and staff were used by the shepherd as both a tool to rescue stranded sheep and as a weapon against predators. The GOOD shepherd provides even better tools and weapons for his sheep. We have the name of Jesus, a name above EVERY name. We have the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide us. And we have the Word to build our shield of faith and use as our sword.
When God has your back, you cannot lose and should never be afraid. (Matthew 28:18-20, John 16:5-15, Ephesians 6:10-18, Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 4:12-16, 1 Peter 5:1-11)
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. (Psalm 23:5 NLT)
This is a great promise. The enemy surrounds us and looks imposing, but it really does not matter. They can do nothing to stop the GOOD shepherd from pouring out the BLESSING on our lives. The windows of Heaven are open and God’s Blessing and anointing flows freely on us. You know it makes the enemy mad, but there is nothing he can do to stop it. Only if we turn away from God, or step out of love, do we interrupt the flow. But even if that happens, we can quickly repent and reconnect to God’s goodness. Even unbelievers stand in awe of all the good that the GOOD shepherd provides. (Exodus 14:13-14, Deuteronomy 28:1-14, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, Psalm 35, Psalm 37, Psalm 91, Psalm 92, Psalm 118, Mark 11:22-25, Hebrews 2, 1 John 2:1-14)
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:6 NIV)
Believing in the GOOD shepherd secures an eternity with Jesus. But God’s goodness does not have to wait until the next life. Eternal life, living in the Kingdom of God, can be experienced in this life. That was God’s plan from the very beginning. Jesus walked the earth as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He overcame every temptation and defeated every diabolical plan of the evil one. Jesus is our model and the one we should imitate. We can live in victory just like him. By faith in Jesus, the Word, we can heal the sick, raise the dead, provide for every need and live in total victory – remember, nothing is impossible if we believe.
God IS love. He lives in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, so that we can minister just like Jesus to the world. It is up to us to share God’s goodness and love, bearing good fruit for the benefit of others. People may only experience God (true love) through interaction with Believers. (Psalm 1, Psalm 24, Psalm 112, Matthew 19:26-30, 28:16-20, John 10:10, John 15, Galatians 5:13-26, Ephesians 5:1-2)
Click on the links above to read each verse in 17 different versions. To read the entire Psalm in five popular translations – AMP, KJV, HCSB, NIV, The Message click here:
Additional Psalm 23 Resources
Psalm 23 – A version for children
Who Do You Trust – Children’s sermon and activity pages
God Cares for Me – Psalm 23 – Children’s lesson idea
The Good Shepherd – A five day lesson series on the Good Shepherd
An Exposition of Psalm 23 – A study by Greg Herrick
Psalm 23 – Jesus Our Great Shepherd – A Bible study by I Gordon
Psalm 23 – Additional resources for adult study
Search for Other Christian Web Sites.
Suggested Search Terms: Psalms, Psalm 23, Lord is my shepherd, David, Christian poems, sheep