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PSALM 23



“The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pasture; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, 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.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Forever.” 

Psalm 23 is one of the most well scriptures in all of the Bible. It also happens to be one of my favorite verses; each line discusses a new way that the Lord protects and loves us. I have often read different blog post that read Psalm 23 and don’t fully grasp the content of what David was speaking on.

I want to take a moment to represent the depth of what Psalm 23 truly means line by line.


“The Lord is my shepherd;”

The idea of the Lord being our shepherd is not shocking to many people. Most of you reading this have probably heard this thought before. But what does it truly mean? Quite honestly we, humans, are more like sheep than we’d like to admit. To put it simply sheep are dumb. Without a guide to help them, they will wonder off and be eaten up by a larger predator. A shepherd tends to its sheep; it is liable for them, and is in possession of them. Jesus is liable for us; we are in His care and He has bought us with His blood, therefore we are His possession. I am not so self reliant to admit that this is a comforting thought; I am in the care of the Highest of All Highs. The Lord of all has chosen to take care of me and tend to my needs.

Romans 8:31 tells us “if God is for me, who can be against me.” The first line of Psalm 23 expresses to us the same. The Lord is for us, He is our shepherd; who can be against us.


“I shall not want.”

The Lord has many names that are listed throughout Scripture, however Jehovah Jireh is one of the most popular ones. It means The Lord our Provider and is only mentioned one time in the whole Bible. In the middle part of the book Genesis we see Abraham being tested when God asks Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice to Him. Abraham, however, had the faith that the Lord would provide another way (Genesis 22:8.) For those who know the story, you know that the Lord provided a Ram in the thicket and Abraham sacrificed it instead of His son. Abraham then calls the mountain Yireh, a word in Hebrew meaning provide. It is translated to us in English as Jehovah Jireh.

The reason I tell this specific story is to let you know that if you are taking breaths at this moment then God isn’t done with you yet. The Lord has always provided to us exactly what we have needed. It may not be what we have wanted at the time but it is exactly what we needed. Abraham traveled all the way to the top of that mountain to have God provide exactly what he needed at the last possible second.

Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply all my needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” the key phrase here being “according to His…” It may not always look, feel, sound, etc. exactly how we expect or long for it to but at the end of the day our needs are met.


“He makes me to lie down in green pasture; He leads me beside the still waters.” 

God makes us rest. In the book of Matthew Jesus speaks to His disciples in chapter eleven and verse twenty eight saying this: “Come to Me, all you, who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I love this reminder! Jesus not only wants us to rest but He is our rest.

As we all know life can get difficult at times, the enemy is here to steal, kill, and destroy. He will start as early as possible and won’t stop just because you’ve hit retirement. While it may be difficult for us to take an entire day off to rest, as the fourth commandment encourages us; we can remember that He is our rest.


“He restores my soul;”

This verse almost goes along with the one above it; we know that in our lives we will face some spiritually draining experiences. What we talked about above was that we can we find rest in Him. But this next line promises us that He will restore to us what we have lost. Deuteronomy 30:3 says: “God, your God, will restore all which is lost to you, He’ll have compassion on you; He’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.” There are trails that we face that are not only difficult but they drain a lot out of us. As another version of the texts (NIV) says: “He refreshes my soul.” He rejuvenates us, He revives us, He strengthens us.

Unlike other gods from other religions, our God just doesn’t expect things from us; but restores and energizes His children. Thank you Lord for your continual fresh touch!


“He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name sake.”

Proverbs 16:9 tells us that “the mind of a man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” It’s important for us to realize that God gives us the freewill to choose our own paths, however He has ordained a pathway for us that is virtuous and good. It is up to us whether we want to fully operate in that goodness, but regardless He has provided it us through the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.


“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me”

David is so honest with us in this verse. He doesn’t say “if I walk through the valley,” or “I might walk through the valley.” He said “though I walk through the valley,” the valleys will come but my favorite promises in this chapter is the later part of this verse… “I will fear no evil; for You are with me”


If you keep reading in Psalms a few more chapters to 27:1-2 it says: “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Even when fear presents itself, we have nothing to be afraid of.


“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Shepherds used both their rod and their staff when herding sheep. The staff is what we see depicted many times in paintings, movies and children storybooks. It is the long walking stick with the hook on the end that would direct the sheep back from their wondering. The staff  is used for correction.

The rod was used on sheep that had run off. Shepherds would use these rods to break the legs of their sheep. But the shepherd would not just leave their sheep with broken legs. They would actually carry the sheep on their shoulders (another widely depicted image) and massage the legs of the sheep using oil until the legs were healed. The rod is used for brokenness.

As a follower of Jesus, we need both; to be corrected and to be broken. Growing up when I would get disciplined or spanked, my father would always tell me that he spanked me because he loved me. In the same way a parent disciplines a child to teach them right from wrong; God disciplines us to teach us lessons. If anyone understood this verse it was David.


“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;”

The reason that Satan hates us as much as he does is because of what this verse is illustrating. Though we fail numerous times the Lord still forgives and blesses us. He gives us these blessings directly in front of our enemy. Satan watches as we continue to mess us and God continues to forgive and bless us. We get to feast on the love of our Savior and there is nothing that the enemy can do about it.

Luke 10:19 says “See I have given you authority to tread on the snakes and the scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, nothing will harm you.” When Jesus was resurrected after His crucifixion He placed the authority that was once in Him into us. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we were covered in His blood, given the Holy Spirit, and the authority over the earth. Because Christ paid the sacrifice for us and our sins; He won us back from the enemy and we now have the same dominion that was first given to Adam and Eve (Genius 1:26.)


“You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”

Anointing oil always represented “God’s choice,” David experienced this first hand when he was anointed to be king over Saul. Now, the anointing can be represented by the Holy Spirit, and the best part about this is that the Holy Spirit is a never ending gift to all of God’s children. Our cup of salvation and our cup of the anointing will always run over.


“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;”

The thing about God’s goodness and mercy is that it is never ending. We cannot age out of the love of God, He will never grow tired of us, nor will He give up on us.  There are two scriptures that are united perfectly with this verse; one of them comes from Lamentations 3:22-23, it says: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” How amazing is it that each morning we wake up and He holds nothing from the day before over us; He renews us each morning.

The second verse is found in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing we do, and nothing anyone else does can separate us from Jesus. Even when we stray away He is always waiting for us to return to Him. 


“and I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Forever.” 

This is the greatest promises of them all. We will spend entirety with the Savior. Matthew 25:46 says: “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Jesus is explaining the two possible places we will enter into after our deaths or when He is to return to us; heaven or hell. As believers we are promised to dwell with the Lord forever.

Psalm 23, the purest illustration of the promises of the Lord to us. He is our Shepherd, our provider, our rest, our restorer, our guide, our light and salvation, our correction, our discipline, our authority, our giver, and our promises.

I hope that you can see Him a little differently today.


-V

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