Psalm 23, a portion of the Holy Bible, is what every Christian should recite when faced with any kind of danger or dilemma in their lives. This prayer is a protection prayer that reminds us that our Good Shepherd will always be there to help us and provide nourishment. on this post is the explanations and the significance of the Psalm ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want’ in Christian life and sheds light on its meaning.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23 KJV
The Book of Psalms is the longest and most commonly used book in Holy Bible. Psalm 23–The Lord Is My Shepherd–is also the most famous Psalm in all of the Bible.
It is a beautiful Psalm that begins with the words “The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not want”. This Psalm amazingly describes how peaceful, satisfying, and rewarding it is living under the care and love of our Good Shepherd, the loving and gracious Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us know this Psalm or have recited it many times. It is a prayer that reminds us of His protection around us. Although this prayer is most commonly recited at funerals, it can be used to teach us how to live a worry-free life. It is His lambs that are the ultimate Shepherd who is taking care of us all.
This Psalm is in the King James Version (KJV), which is the most accepted and widely recognized version. This is Psalm 23, according to the KJV version.
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“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be without him. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the path of righteousness for his namesake. Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil. For thou art beside me; thy rod, thy staff, they comfort me. Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
— Psalm 23 King James Version (KJV)
Psalm 23 Meaning: ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd
King David, the author of this Psalm uses the analogy in which he refers To The Lord as the shepherd and His believers (which constitutes us all) as the sheep or lambs. David, who was a young shepherd, had been a shepherd before he became King. He was well aware of the difficulties, responsibility, and dedication required to care for a sheep herd. This animal is one of the most intelligent on the planet and is easily susceptible to wander off, become lost, or get scared.
King David, based on his own life experiences, labels us all sheep and Him the ultimate shepherd. We are all just like little lambs, easily enthralled by the world’s lures, easily manipulated, and vulnerable to being plied by the evildoers around us. This is why prayer is so important in today’s world. Every Christian should follow it to avoid being misled. We have outlined the meanings of the Psalm line by line in order to better understand what the author meant through his writing.
The Lord is my Shepherd
We are humblest in our thinking and proudly declare that we are the weakest and most vulnerable lambs, whose shepherd is The Lord Himself. This doesn’t refer to the past, where we may have gone astray, sinned and lost. It is about the present, the moment, when our Lord has taken our responsibility and, because “we have accepted Him to be our shepherd”, He has kept us safe in His arms. Each and every person can say with pride, “The Lord’s ‘My Shepherd” when He is our Savior. The word My’ emphasises the intimate relationship between each of us and Him–You!
I Shall Not Want
This is the most confusing but also the most reassuring line of the Psalm. “I will not want.” What shall you not want? The Shepherd? The Shepherd? This means that all of our needs and wants will be met without us asking. We will have everything we need, and nothing we don’t want!
He Maketh Me to Lie down in Green Pastures.
The word “to lie down” means to rest. He made His lambs lie down in green pastures as a symbol of comfort, freshness and peace. King David compares us to sheep and lambs that have no knowledge of their own wellbeing. The Good Shepherd makes us lay down and gives us the best place to rest, in green, soft, and pleasant pastures. This is a sign that our Lord knows best for us all, and will lead us on the path that will give us the peace and comfort that we seek. All praise to Him!
He Leadeth me Beside the Still Waters.
The still waters, which extend from the previous line signify calm and peace. Troubled waters or ripples can signify anxiety, worry, difficulty, complexities, and lack of peace. It is a sign of a calm and peaceful life. Jesus, our shepherd, guides us to these waters so that we are free from any unwanted ripples or waves. He is our shepherd and leads us to peace and tranquility.
He Restores My Soul: He Leadeth me in the Paths Of Righteousness For His Name’s Sake.
What are we most interested in today’s society? We seek peace of thought, not money or fame. What took that peace away from us? Sin, desire, lust, and the need to have more. This is not because we are in need but out jealousy or greediness. Our hearts, minds and souls are broken! Now that we have turned towards Him, He restores everything that was lost and restores our souls! How does He do this? We follow Him in our path to righteousness. Because we know He loves us more than anyone else and that no one can love us as He does, we are glad to follow Him.
Yea, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil: for Thou art with me
Walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death signifies that, while we follow the path of righteousness, there are always dangers, risks, or threats. It could also signify that, while we know we are in His care and must follow His lead, we tend to wander off on the path of danger, death, and sin. We don’t have to fear the “Shadow of Death”, because our Shepherd, our gracious Savior, is right there with us at every step. We can rely on Him to protect us from all evil and any danger that might threaten our courage. He can also help us overcome our wicked spirit. Amen.
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Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me
Jesus was a shepherd, so He had a staff and a rod with him. The same outfit is still used to picture Jesus’ presence. His humble self walks beside us in all things, carrying His rod and staff to help us to navigate, comfort, and protect us. All of us have witnessed how a shepherd leads his cattle. He uses his rod to change their direction. This is what the Lord does with His staff. He guides, directs, and protects us.
Thou preparest a table before me in the Presence of Mine Enemies.
There will always be good. The world we live in won’t allow us to be surrounded by enemies, but it will inspire us to walk the path of righteousness with others. Even in front of our enemies, the Lord will set us a table so that we can eat in abundance while our enemies are in pain. Did you notice how the beasts hunt for their food? They wait for animals to graze or drink, then they silently attack. With the Good Shepherd by our side, we don’t have to worry or fear while we satisfy our hunger or quench our thirst. It is the Lord, Who prepares our table and provides the necessary nourishment, even when we are surrounded with our enemies.
Alternately J. Douglas Macmillan, an expert, adds an interesting point to the line. He states that “preparing a Table” refers back to an “old Oriental Shepherding Practice” in which little raised tables were used to feed sheep by shepherds.
Thou Anointest my Head with Oil; My Cup Runneth over
Oiling the head is an ancient tradition. It is done to honor a person. Oil was also used to repel insects and flies by shepherds. The whole act of oil-anointing demonstrates the care and kindness that the Shepherd shows towards his sheep or lambs.
“My cup runneth over” refers to the abundance of honor, care and wellness received under the perfect care by the Shepherd. It means that our cup is full, which means we get more than we ever hoped for. His blessings, care, mercy, and blessings are more than we could ever imagine. Hallelujah!
“Surely, Goodness and Mercy Will Follow Me All the Days Of My Life”
This is yet another assurance from God that we will be blessed with abundant joys and mercies today and throughout our lives. It is not a hope but a guarantee that our holy scriptures give us. Pay attention to the use of the words “goodness” or “mercy” in this passage. It indicates that even if we do make a mistake on our path to righteousness, the Lord will restore us to the right track by delivering His goodness to us all and bestowing His mercy.
- Douglas MacMillan also notes that “Goodness, mercy, and I shall follow you” is actually referring to the loyal sheepdogs who stay with the flock, protecting and leading them. It is the lack of goodness or mercy that leads us to sin. If goodness is within us and our decisions are guided by mercy, then there will not be any reason to follow the path of sin.
“And I Will Dwell In the House of the Lord for Ever”
Living in the Lord’s house and living in it are two different things! While living may be defined as simply being alive, dwelling means that we are not only present but flourishing and being nourished. We have become part of the Lord’s house. The Lord’s house is heaven. It is a place reserved for the righteous, the just, and only the worthy can enter it. The last line of the Psalm assures us that the Lord our Shepherd will take care of His sheep, His followers, not just in this mortal life but also when we are joined by Him in heaven. We will always live in the House of Lord. Amen.
Psalm 23 is a powerful and nourishing Biblical message about hope, unconditional love and mercy, goodness and protection, care and healing. These words inspire believers and give them the assurance that they will continue to follow the Lord’s path. We need His help and His rod to carry out our ministry. So that we can say “The Lord is My Shepherd” now and forever, we need Him. Amen.
Why Do We Need A Shepherd?
Now if the Lord is our Shepherd, that makes us the sheep. Prone to wander. Entirely and always reliant on our Shepherd, whether we realize it or not.
But here’s what we need to understand: we can’t see God as Shepherd if we don’t see ourselves as sheep. When we open our eyes to how much we really need and rely on God for everything, the more we realize His provision in our lives. But if we live in the lie that we can do this on our own, we wander and drift away from our true source, looking for satisfaction in artificial places.
So when David says “I shall not want” he is acknowledging how completely reliant he is one God as his Shepherd.
“I shall not want” because God, as a good shepherd, will ensure I have everything I need. “I shall not want,” not because of what I’ve done or can do but because God loves me. “I shall not want” because I know God personally as my Shepherd.
The lord is my shepherd I shall not want- Related Bible Verses
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
1 Corinthians 4:2
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
1 Peter 2:25
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Now may the God of the peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
“The Lord is my shepherd” is one of the most quoted passages in all of Scripture. These verses offer comfort for the reader as they enter the valley of the shadow of death and onward in Jesus’ loving arms.
A shepherd is a closer and more intimate partner. A shepherd is more close to his sheep than a king, and knows how to best care for them. Jesus said in the parable about the lost sheep:
If he loses one sheep of his hundred, what man of you would not take the ninety-nine and run after it until he finds it? – Luke 15:4.
Shepherds care deeply for their sheep, but also each individual one.
This is God’s way of caring for us. He knows all of our goings and comings, every hair on our heads, and knows when we are lost. He has made every provision for us through His Son Jesus Christ.