What Does Psalm 23 Say About Me?

5 Mins read

Psalm 23 is one of the most famous chapters in the entire Bible. While there may be some verses that are more often quoted, you would be hard pressed to find an entire chapter that is more widely known than Psalm 23.

But what does Psalm 23 mean for us? With so much imagery about shepherds, sheep, valleys and other potentially foreign concepts, it might be difficult to understand how this famous portion of Scripture applies to you. Hopefully after a deeper dive into the 23rd Psalm, you will be able to feel like David did when he wrote it, seeing your role in your relationship with God that mirrors that of a sheep and its shepherd.

Psalm 23:1 (TPT)
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.

The relationship between the shepherd and the flock in Biblical times was a special one. It’s also a relationship that David was keenly aware of. If you remember, when the prophet Samuel came to anoint King Saul’s successor, David was in the field watching his father’s sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). In ancient times, shepherds primarily lived in the field with their sheep. They spent their days there, they slept there, and they formed a bond with each member of their flock.

Good shepherds didn’t just feed their flock enough to keep them alive. They didn’t just provide them enough water to prevent dying of thirst. Instead, they made sure that their flocks had more than enough. Since Jesus referred to Himself as the “good shepherd” in John 10:11, we can assume that He ensures that we have more than we need to simply survive. Instead, we were made to live an abundant life (John 10:10).

Psalm 23:2 (TPT)
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.

For sheep, the threat of predators was always in their back of their minds. Remember, when David stood in front of Goliath before his miraculous victory over the giant, he pointed out how he had protected his flock against a lion and a bear that had come to try to kill his flock (1 Samuel 17:36). While protection was the responsibility of the shepherd, the sheep (like all animals) were aware of the presence of predators.

Sometimes life makes us feel like we are prey. In fact, the Bible tells us that we have an enemy who is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). However, since our Shepherd is our Protector, we can rest in the fact that He leads us to an oasis of peace. We are protected by His love for His flock.

Psalm 23:3 (TPT)
That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.

We often get so caught up in this verse’s promise of restoration and revival that we fail to understand that our purpose is uncovered in the end of it. God leads us in His footsteps of righteousness, restores us and revives us so that we can bring honor to His name.

When a shepherd’s flock looked like it had received proper care, it pointed to the goodness of the shepherd, not the goodness of the sheep. When our lives reflect God’s righteousness, it doesn’t point to our own goodness. Instead, it points to His provision and power actively working in our lives.

Psalm 23:4 (TPT)
Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

In other translations, Psalm 23:4 mentions the “Valley of the Shadow of Death.” Over the years, many Christians have believed that this term was symbolic for dark periods in our lives, but it’s important to note that the Valley of the Shadow of Death was a real place in ancient times. It ran between the green, rolling hills of Judea and the Jordan River. When you understand that this was a real place, you get a better understanding of what David was saying. Often, God’s presence leads us into dark, scary places because He is transitioning us from one glorious place to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When we find ourselves in a valley of deep darkness, we can rest in two promises. One, His presence is with us, so we don’t have to be afraid. Two, He is taking us to a better place.

Psalm 23:5 (TPT)
You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.

When you’re looking for opposites, eating dinner and fighting a war seem to be polar opposites of one another. Afterall, how hard would it be to sit down and enjoy a feast when enemies are circling you? However, that’s exactly what David says God’s presence does for him. However, we are not nourished with natural food. Instead, God seeks to feed our spiritual-life with His goodness and His provision, even in the presence of attacking enemies.

If you’re looking for something even more incredible in this verse, look at the fact that David says that God doesn’t just give us enough food and water to keep us alive. Instead, He provides so much of His presence that we can overflow. God operates in abundance, not minimalism. When enemies are circling us, we can feast on His goodness and His presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 23:6 (TPT)
So why would I fear the future? For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you.

Finally, David pointed to the fact that the sheep of a good shepherd’s flock don’t have to fear tomorrow. They already know that if their shepherd fed them, watered them, and protected them today, he will do so again tomorrow.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus told His followers to not worry themselves about the future, but instead to dela with each day’s issues as they arise. How can we do that? Because we can look at how He provides for us and protects us today and rest in the promise that He will do so again tomorrow. We also don’t have to fear eternity because we know that when we step into eternity, we will enter into God’s glorious presence.

Finally, take note of the fact that David said God’s goodness and mercy pursued him everyday. That means that even when we find ourselves feeling far from God, His goodness and mercy are chasing us down. In Matthew 18:12, Jesus referenced shepherds again when He said that a good shepherd will leave the flock of 99 sheep to go after the one sheep that had wandered away. When we start making ungodly decisions and distance ourselves from the flock and God’s presence, His goodness and mercy relentlessly pursue us. He doesn’t give up on us even when we want to give up on ourselves. Why? Because His plan for our eternity revolves around spending it with Him.

Psalm 23 is much more than a chapter that provides comfort for those grieving. It is packed full of promises that God has for His people. He is our shepherd; we are His sheep. He protects us, provides for us and guides us. All we have to do is trust in Him.

A Closing Prayer:
God, thank You for being the Good Shepherd. I know that everywhere You lead me puts me in a position to enjoy something greater than I could ever imagine for myself. Help me to rest in Your promises of protection and provision. In Christ’s name, Amen!

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