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Psalm 23

New International Version

1 A psalm of David. 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 forever.
English Standard Version

1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
King James Version

1 {A Psalm of David.} The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, 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. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
New American Standard Bible

1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 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 have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
New Living Translation

1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
Christian Standard Bible

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name's sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, 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 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.

What does Psalm 23 mean?

The 23rd psalm is among the most famous passages of Scripture. Among Christians, it might be the most often-quoted and frequently-memorized set of verses in the Old Testament. The themes of comfort, reassurance, and God's provision for His people have resonated with even non-believers across the ages.

This psalm, written by King David, the former shepherd boy, may have been composed near the end of David's life. He was well acquainted not only with sheep and shepherding but also with the Lord as his shepherd. The psalm has a pastoral setting that is vastly different from David's previous psalm (Psalm 22), which evokes the image of a battlefield. Psalm 23 is meant to inspire calm.

The Lord is personal to David, and He provides everything David needs. As the Good Shepherd, He guides David to green pastures and calm waters. All is peaceful! He refreshes David's soul and directs him in the way of righteousness, thereby protecting the Good Shepherd's reputation. Even if David encounters life-threatening trouble, he does not fear because the Lord, the Good Shepherd walks with him.

Like a sheep who feels secure knowing his shepherd is standing guard, David is comforted by knowing the Good Shepherd's rod and staff will protect him. It appears David feels like an honored guest at a banquet hosted by the Lord Himself. His enemies look on as the Lord provides richly for him. Or perhaps David compares himself to a sheep that receives the healing oil and a large cup of water from its shepherd at the end of day. Its predatory enemies can only look at the sheepfold, the entrance of which is blocked by the shepherd.

David is confident that the Lord will be good to him and will shower him with loving kindness for the rest of his earthly life. He expects to enjoy rich communion with the Lord in the sanctuary.