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Psalm chapter 23

What does Psalm chapter 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.
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