Psalms Chapter 23

Psalms Chapter 23

(Unless otherwise stated all Scriptures in this devotional are from the King James Version of the Bible.)


Psalm 23  shows David’s total in the Lord. Even though he is going through an attack in this Psalm. David is still trusting God for deliverance. Just look at what David says in verse 4. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” 



1(A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

David compares the Lord to the person he was before he became “the King.” See verses 1-4. In the ANE culture the “word shepherd” is a metaphor for “leaders and kings” were thought of as shepherd; therefore it is not surprising that David uses this metaphor to describe God (Longman 2014, 136).

The Hebrew word for Shepherd is:

roi: shepherd

Original Word: רֹעִי
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: roi
Phonetic Spelling: (ro-ee’)
Short Definition: shepherd

The Old Testament (OT) uses the shepherd analogy to describe The Lord (See Isa. 40:11 and Jer. 31:10.)

  •  Isa. 40:11 “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young,” and
  • Jer. 31:10 Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
  • Please take the time to read these scriptures. Just click on the link, and you will see how God is described in them. Gen. 48:15; 49:24; Pss 28:9; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; Ezek. 34:15; Mic. 7:14 (Longman 134).
  • David knows that he is called to be a shepherd to his people like God. 2 Sam. 5:2 states “Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.” We all know that David was not perfect. The Bathsheba episode shows that. Therefore, we should not expect perfection from our shepherds/pastors either. They are not deliberately attempting to fail in their duties. They may say or do something that we disagree with, but that does not make them any less qualified to be our shepherds.
  • Look at the latter part of the verse “I shall not want.” God makes provision for His children. We just have to believe that He will!
  • 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 

  • 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Verses 2– 3 describes something the shepherd does on behalf of his sheep.

NB: Longman declares that “God functions as the shepherd of his people for the glory of his own name” (Longman 135).

Verse 2 describes the blissful life of the sheep. The shepherd takes them to a lush pasture where they can enjoy the nourishment of the grass and “lie down.”  Now that they have eaten, they are led to drink from “the still waters” to quench their thirst. Can you visualize the beauty, peace, and calm of those pastures?

When we feed on God’s word, we are in His “green pastures.”  When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and guard our lives, we are experiencing the calm and stillness of the “still waters” that David speaks about in this Psalm.  

Now Davids moves away from this blissful, beautiful, calm, and peaceful place and talks about he his “soul.”  “[God] restoreth my soul.” David, the writer of this song of praise and confidence,  finds rejuvenation in the direction and supply of God. David clearly understands that these blessings are not just for his sake: note what he states “he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The statement “the path” is a common phrase in wisdom literature Prov. 4:26; 5:21

New Testament Applications of these Verses

John 4:14 “But whosoever drinketh of the water [drinks of me/Jesus] that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” We drink of Him when we feed on His word and allow the Holy Spirit to refresh and renew our minds each day. See 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” is the traditional phrasing of this verse.  Longman states thatThe … more traditional rendering derives from splitting the Hebrew word ṣ almāwet (deep darkness) into two words: ṣ ēl māwet (shadow of death)” is a cognate that was found on the archaeological tablets found at Urgarit” (Ibid., 136). 

The psalmist is describing a situation where he feels as if he is literally walking through the valley that leads to death. However, “ [he] will fear no evil: [WHY?] for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” He knows that he is not alone God is with him. Do you experience this type of confidence when you are in the middle of a trial that feels as if your ware “walking through death valley?” Right now write down some life experiences that have made you feel that way. Then write down how God brought you through them! Christians do not have to fear death. Yes, the ones left behind will experience lonesomeness. But 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 reassures us of what happens when we drop this mortal body. ” For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.” “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Praise Him!

The turning point of this Psalm. Now David compares the Lord to a host, and David is the guest at the meal. 

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The Lord is a host at a scrumptious meal, and David is in attendance “Thou preparest a table before me.. [Apparently so are his enemies, or they are looking on as God takes care of David at this feast.] “in the presence of mine enemies:” 

Today when we choose to eat with someone we have a good, if not great, relationship with them. This scripture shows the intimacy between David and the Lord because “thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Pouring anointing oil over a person is a demonstration of being chosen and favored/or is being blessed by the person pouring the oil.

  • See Eccl. 9:8; Amos 6:6; Luke 7:46 
  •  Leviticus 8:30 “And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which [was] upon the altar, and sprinkled [it] upon Aaron, [and] upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, [and] his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.” 

This phrase “thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” is also synonymous of with “cup of blessing or salvation” (Longman 136).

  • Ps 16:5 “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.”
  • Ps 116:13 “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.
  • 1 Cor. 10:16  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

We need some clarifying points of this verse. The importance of this verse is generally lost in the theological pool of translations. So, I am going to post exactly what Longman states because he has seen the original context in the Hebrew for this verse.

Longman 2014, Page 137.

Verse 6a personifies God’s covenant attributes of goodness ( ṭ ôb ) and love or loyalty ( ḥ esed ),  picturing them as following the psalmist.

A better translation of the verb might be ‘pursuing’, and if so, and if the shepherd metaphor does extend into the second stanza, then goodness and love act like the shepherd’s sheepdogs, helping the shepherd to keep the sheep going in the right direction.

The niv renders the final colon of the psalm: I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The house of the Lord, of course, is the temple, [because] no-one actually lived there. The temple, though, was where God made his presence known among his people. The psalmist thus proclaims that he will live in the light of God’s presence.

The translation forever gives a wrong impression, at least when the psalm is read in its original Old Testament context. The phrase is literally rendered ‘for length of days’, that is, for the duration of the psalmist’s life. After all, the teaching about the afterlife developed during the late Old Testament (Dan. 12:1– 3) [“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

…. and blossomed in the New Testament. Reading Psalm 23 in the light of the New Testament indicates that it is true that the psalmist and others who put their trust in God will live in his presence forever.

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I Go to prepare a place for you.” “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.” There it is folks. Our eternal home. The promise of the Godhead!


I will take that promise any day. Just give me Jesus is not just a phrase it is a lifestyle!


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