Psalm 23 – The Great Shepherd

Shepherd, Sheep

The great Shepherd, The Lord 

In Him I do not lack

I rest in His presence in pastures green, and I am given the water of life

Water refreshing my soul

My guiding light on paths right

Valleys are darkest – I fear nothing
    For the great shepherd is nearest

A rod and a staff, great comfort

A meal is prepared for me and my enemies
My head annointed in oil
    my cup overflows

Goodness and love will follow me
To live 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. He is 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. The Lord is 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? How about following him even when the path is hard and the way is dark? Always 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. He will heal your heart. God will refresh your spirit.” We all need that. When you are weary and burdened, you need your soul restored. If you are overwhelmed and undone, you need your soul restored. You’re bound feel guilt and shame, you need your soul restored. If you are assailed by fear and worry, you need your soul restored. Wounded and hurt, you need your soul restored. Feeling 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. A weekend off. Sports. Exercise. elevision. A vacation. Shopping. 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, you draw close to God. 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, you will protect me, you will defend me, you will fight for me, you will take care of me, I will not fear. My shepherd, 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. No fears 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, your own Son to die for me. Freely you gave your Spirit to live in me.  I have access to you at any time. Your life and breath is all we need. have brought wonderful people in my life who  care about me. Freely you forgive me when I fail you. You strength in me ifts when I am weak and needy. Hear my prayers. Delight in my love. I have a secure and eternal future with you.  Rescue me from the pit of hell.  I am chosen by you.  Your gifts and blessings are sufficient for me.  You have called me to a meaningful place in the great battle against the enemy. I have have your protection.  You want me, have given me food and shelter, 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.


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