One of my favorite Psalms turned out to be tremendously healing to me early on in my recovery from sexual abuse. I began to see a different picture of God than what I’d imagined Him to be. In order to have a healthy relationship with our Father God we must see Him as He is displayed to us in the Bible and not the picture painted for us through our life experiences, television, parents, ministers, movies, books or any man-made idea of Him. The 23rd Psalm was important in my journey to discovering Him as my loving Shepherd whose very job is to lead, feed, and protect me. I’m so thankful that He does!
I’ve included the Amplified version of this Psalm because that was what I was reading when a new picture of a loving, caring, protective God began to form on the inside of me. As we read and meditate on each verse we can see how it describes meeting every need we have. I’m just going to share my study with you and will write my observations and comments between each verse and they will be in ITALICS so you will be able to discern my thoughts from the Amplified Version of the scripture.
I enjoy using The Strong’s Concordance to better understand what the Hebrew writer was trying to convey to us. I also used Matthew Henry’s Commentary in my study.
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
The Shepherd’s job is shown above in the brackets. He is to feed, guide, and protect us. I am comforted knowing that it’s His job to care for me. Then it goes on to say, in the KJV – “I shall not want.” The Hebrew word for lack (want) – Chacer, is also translated as want – 7 times, lack – 6 times and fail – 3 times. Essentially telling us that our needs are met when we are following our Shepherd. I also like replacing the word lack with fail. I shall not fail!
2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
Green pastures, especially in Israel which is a desert, is a safe place to rest and recover. When animals are led to a place to be watered, they are there to be refreshed, revived, renewed. In Matthew Henry’s Commentary, he says, “The consolations of the Holy Spirit are the still waters by which the saints are led; the streams which flow from the Fountain of living waters.” Is there anything more refreshing than a fountain of LIVING waters?
I can’t help but think of another verse where Jesus is speaking in John 4:14 – “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Take note of where the fountain is!
3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
The Hebrew word for restore is, shuwb, means to turn back or return. I am believing for a complete restoration from the damage done to my soul, which is my mind, will and emotions. He repairs the brokenness that came from the abuse. God is not only able, but He is willing to heal us, just as He was willing to heal the leper in Mark 1:40, Matthew 8:2 and Luke 5:12. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – Hebrews 13:8.
He leads us in paths of righteousness, not our righteousness, but the righteousness that is freely given us who believe in His name – Jesus.
Yes, I realize this is the Old Testament and Jesus had not died for our sins yet. However, the O.T. points to the New Testament toward the redemption that we have been given.
4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
Now when I think of shadows of anything, I think of how they can be scary but can’t actually cause any damage. That is what a shadow of death is to a believer. It is just meant to cause fear but has NO teeth. He has the rod, which is also translated as sceptre which denotes authority, and a staff to support which are both comforting in their protection.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.
Whenever a table is talked about it is obvious that it is saying that He has made provision available for us even when the enemy of our soul is around. The devil is active on this earth but as a child of God we have our needs met.
If we look back to the time that this was written, in the desert of Israel, it was customary to pour oil on for many reasons. One of those reasons was as an act or custom of hospitality. It was refreshing and as shown in the story in Luke 7 could be quite expensive. Our Shepherd spares no expense in anointing us with the oil of His Holy Spirit. One of the uses of anointing oil is healing as shown in James 5:14.
6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
Before I’d actually asked Jesus to be my Lord & Savior, I read a book on positive thinking and this was one of the verses, Psalm 23:6, that it said to write down and say out loud to myself daily. I put it on the back of one of my business cards and stuck it in the speedometer area on my 1982 Chevette. I said it out loud a lot! Little did I really know the impact this one verse would have on the rest of my life. I think it is self-explanatory and I’d encourage you to put it on an index card and say it to yourself whenever you see it.
1. What does it mean to you when you think about Jesus being your Shepherd?
2. Do a quick study on the internet about what a shepherd does and how the sheep react to their shepherd.
3. Read John 10:1- 30.
4. How do sheep know their shepherd? What else did you get from these verses?
I hope this little study will help you to see how our Lord wants to lead us and it is our responsibility to get to know His voice so that we do not mistake it for an impostor. He has so many assurances He wants to give us as to His love and intentions for us as HIs beloved. I pray that He reveals these to you as you study Psalm 23.