Today we will take a thorough look at the beautiful and popular Psalm 23. We will learn how David truly saw God, which teaches us how we ought to view God too. That even though we suffer and experience hardships, we should love God and know He is our good Shepherd.
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23 is one of the best-loved psalms. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful example of David’s child-like trust in his God. We all long for this kind of trust. We should all have this child-like trust and faith in God, as hard as that sounds to have.
Verse 1 The Lord is my Shepherd – A Personal Relationship
We should all see the Lord as David did. He sees the Lord, the almighty, infinite, holy, and sovereign God, as his shepherd. He is our great and awesome God, David knew that God lovingly watched over him like a shepherd watches his sheep. The Lord is a shepherd. David was more personal in saying, “The Lord is my shepherd.” He was saying that God cares about him. He knows him. He understands him. He watches over him. He protects him. He guides him. He is gentle with him. He nourishes him. He comforts him. He fights for him. He is attentive to him. He is for him. He stays near him. He will never leave him. He would die for him. He is his shepherd.
Whatever your need is, He can meet it. Whatever the burden is, He can carry it. Whatever the decision is, He can guide it. Whatever the problem is, He can handle it. Whatever the hurt is, He can heal it. He’s my shepherd. When the Lord is your shepherd, you can trust in God no matter what happens. He is watching over you.
He is right there with you. He will see you through. He’s your shepherd. You won’t lack anything you need. You will not be in want of anything when the Lord is your shepherd.
Is the Lord your shepherd?
Verse 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures – Providing Rest
God is a good God. God is like the shepherd who takes care of his sheep, who takes them to lush, green meadows so they can eat to their hearts’ content and lie down and rest. God is like the shepherd who leads his sheep to the quiet stream so they can drink the clear, cool mountain water. That’s what God is like. He’s the good shepherd. He’s the shepherd who provides for us, who nourishes us, who takes care of us, who gives us what we really need. He’s the shepherd who refreshes us, restores us, and replenishes us. The only question for us is: Do we follow our shepherd? Do we follow him faithfully? Do we follow him even when the path is hard and the way is dark? Do we follow him even if we cannot see where we are going? Do we follow our shepherd no matter what because we see him as a shepherd? Do we follow him because we see him as the good shepherd and we trust him?
God is the God of the lush green meadow. He is the God of the clear mountain stream. Do you see God the way David saw him? He is my shepherd and he is good to me.
Verse 3 The Shepherd Refreshes – Supply, Sustain and Renew
God says to you, ” I will restore your soul. I will reach into the deepest part of your soul, to the place that nothing else can touch, and I will restore your soul. I will heal your heart. I will refresh your spirit.” We all need that. When you are weary and burdened, you need your soul restored. When you are overwhelmed and undone, you need your soul restored. When you feel guilt and shame, you need your soul restored. When you are assailed by fear and worry, you need your soul restored. When you feel wounded and hurt, you need your soul restored. When you feel alone and rejected, you need your soul restored. When you feel angry and rejected, you need your soul restored.
At all of these times and more, you need God to do for you what you cannot do for yourself: heal your soul. Nothing else can do it. Not entertainment. Not a weekend off. Not sports. Not exercise. Not television. Not a vacation. Not shopping. Not your hobby. Nothing else can restore your soul. But the God who created the universe, the God who breathed life into you—He can do it. He can breathe life into your soul. He can make you alive again. It happens when you meet with God. When you connect with God. When you draw close to God. When you are alone with God. When you gather with God’s people and worship. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says to you even now, “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Christ can restore your soul.
Verse 4 Through the Valley – Dark and Difficult Times
In this classic expression of childlike trust, David says to God: “Lord, because you are my shepherd, I will not fear. Lord, because you are watching over me, because you will protect me, because you will defend me, because you will fight for me, because you will take care of me, I will not fear. Lord, even if the valley is filled with darkness, difficulty, danger, or death, I will not fear. Lord, because you will be right there with me in that valley, I will not fear. Because you are beside me, behind me, above me, in front of me, under me, over me, in me, because you are right there beside me, invisible and yet more real than life, I will not fear. Lord, I will rest in you. I will not surrender to the fears that assail me. I will not fret and worry myself sick. I will not be afraid, because you are with me in the valley.”
Are you in a valley right now? A valley of loneliness? Rejection? Failure? Divorce? Unemployment? Cancer? Depression? Addiction? Physical pain? Financial ruin? Overwhelming grief? Conflict? Mistreatment?
If so, then hear the voice of the Shepherd: “I will be with you. Whatever you are going through, I will be there. No matter how dark the valley, I am right there beside you. I will not leave you. Do not be afraid. I will see you through.” Hear the voice of your Shepherd.
Verse 5 My Cup Overflows – Abundant Provision
God loves a grateful heart. David had such a heart. He could look at his life and smile at God’s goodness to him and blessing on him. Yes, his life had been hard; at times, his life had been excruciating. But God had been good to him, so good. God had filled his cup to the brim, and it was overflowing. David had a grateful heart.
What about you? Has your life been hard, even excruciating at times? It probably has. It’s the way life is on this side of heaven. But God has been good to you, so good. Your cup overflows.
Lord, you have been a Shepherd to me. You have cared for me and provided for me. You have loved me even when I ignored you. Your eye has always been upon me. You have offered me unlimited grace. You have sent your own Son to die for me. You have freely given your Spirit to live in me. You give me access to you at any time. You have given me life and breath. You have brought wonderful people in my life who care about me. You freely forgive me when I fail you. You strengthen me when I am weak and needy. You hear my prayers. You delight in my love. You have given me a secure and eternal future with you. You have rescued me from the pit of hell. You have chosen me. You have gifted me. You have called me to a meaningful place in the great battle against the enemy. You have protected me. You want me. You have given me food and shelter. You have been so good to me. My cup overflows. Thank you, In Jesus name, Amen.
Verse 6 Goodness and Mercy – Pursues Us
The climax of Psalm 23 is in the final verse. “Surely your goodness and love will follow me” Only a person who knows his Shepherd intimately would be able to make such a claim. David is not naïve. He is not too young to understand. He knows, all too well, that life can be tough, unfair, and cruel. But David knows that God is not like life. God is never unfair or cruel. Others may hurt us and do us harm.
We may hurt ourselves with our own sin. But not God—God will pursue us in love. God’s goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. Not just some of the days, but all the days. Every single day, we will experience God’s pursuance. We will drink it in like refreshing water. And beyond that, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. There is no doubt about our future. No uncertainty or insecurity. We have a secure destiny—with God.
What an expression of trust. Every phrase of this final verse is filled with trust. David had walked with God for all his life. He had learned, often through painful experiences, that God is good, that God can be trusted, that God’s goodness and love will follow him all his life.
Surely, surely this will take place. What kind of person talks this way? Only a person who knows his God.