This is perhaps the best-known and best-loved of all the psalms.

‘God’s willingness to care for us by pasturing us in the appropriate places (i.e., meeting our every need, generously protecting us and benefiting us) is evident to those who are familiar with the psalm. And, of course, the psalmist knew well what very few modern readers know, that sheep are probably among the dumbest animals ever to walk on our planet. Despite the verb that comes to us in English from this occupation, one does not easily “herd” sheep. Our guess is that this frequent analogy in Scripture was not intended to flatter us! Rather, it serves as a constant reminder as to how greatly we need the great Shepherd’s tender, loving care.’ (Fee & Stuart, How To Reach The Bible For All Its Worth, p213)

Ps 23:1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Elizabeth Elliot has told the story of a little girl who was very ill but who had learned to recite the 23rd Psalm on her fingers. Starting with her little finger, she would grab a finger as she said each word of ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ As she said the word ‘shepherd’, she would clasp her thumb in recognition of the care God has for her. One morning, after a long and hard fight against her disease, the little girl was found dead. One hand was clasped around the other thumb. The Lord is her shepherd. He has made her lie down in green pastures. He has led her to quiet waters. Surely she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

A paraphrase: The Television is my shepherd./My spiritual growth shall want./It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for its name sake, Because it requireth all my spare time./It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian, Because it presenteth so many shows that I must see./It restoreth my knowledge of the things of the world, and keepeth me from the study of God’s word./It leadeth me in the paths of failing to attend evening church services, and doing nothing for the Kingdom of God./Yea, though I live to be a hundred, I shall keep watching Television as long as it will work, For it is my closest companion. (Unknown)

Do I really belong to him? Do I really recognize his right to me? Do I respond to his authority and acknowledge his ownership? Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement? Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment because I am under his direction? Do I know rest and repose, beside a definite sense of exciting adventure, in belonging to him? Before I can say he is my shepherd, I need answers to these questions.

A Shepherd Looks at Ps 23 by Philip Keller

Deut 26:16; Jn 10:27

Ps 23:2 he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

He makes me lie down – ‘Phillip Keller, once a shepherd himself, in his book “A Shepherd Looks at Ps 23” relates that the strange thing about sheep is that because of their very makeup, it is almost impossible for them to be make to lie down unless four requirements are met. First, due to their timidity, they must be free from all fear. Next, because of their sociability, they must be free from friction with others of their kind. Third, they must be free from flies or parasites if they are to relax. Lastly, they will not lie down unless from from hunger. It is only the shepherd who can provide release from all these anxieties. As our Good Shepherd, the Lord meets all these needs for us, so that we can “lie down in green pastures,” with our souls restored by his care.’ (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, 412)

Ps 23:3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Ps 23:4 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.

An elderly man was out walking with his young grandson. “How far do you think we are from home?” he asked the boy. “Grandad, I don’t know,” came the reply. “Well, do you know where we are?” asked the old man. “No, I don’t.” “Sounds to me as if you’re lost.” The young boy looked at his grandfather and said, “No, I can’t be lost. I’m with you.”

Psa 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


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