Psalm 23 is a beautiful poem that talks about how God relates to the one who gives his life to him. In times when you feel fearful or worried, Psalm 23 helps you understand that God is in control and will not fail. See in this wonderful psalm how God loves you, cares for you, and protects you.
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 for ever.
Psalm 23. Meaning
Let’s explore more of this widely recognized Psalm because what you’re picturing in your mind may not be entirely correct.
An online dictionary defines a grassland like this: “Plants (such as grass) grown for food, especially grazing animals; land or plot of land used for grazing; cattle feed; grass.”
The dictionary paints a picture in our minds of an open field filled with tall, lush grass, maybe a few flowers, and a few trees. Basically, we think of a beautiful and serene meadow. We also commonly take the green pastures of the Bible to mean that God supplies everything we need in amazing abundance. But this is not what David was saying.
In the areas around Jerusalem, the slopes are mainly dirt and sand. There is not a lot of lush green grass. All you find is a bunch of rocks and maybe a sprig of grass sprouting here and there, which you can see here.
So what could David have been referring to when he says that God makes him lie down in green pastures? To our modern eyes, we detect no grass and certainly no vegetation. But notice a biblical point of view:
Biblical Green Pastures
Just like where you live, there are certain times of the year when it rains frequently and there are times when it’s a bit dry. Psalm 23:2 refers to those dry seasons, not only in the environment but also in our lives.
In Israel, Pastor Vander Laan explains that the west wind blows its moisture against the slopes where it condenses on the cold rocks at night. That little bit of moisture (along with the meager 23 inches of rain Jerusalem gets each year) is enough to grow those little twigs of grass.
If you walk away from the scene after it rains, you’ll see those twigs of grass in some areas of the slopes facing into the wind. These are the green pastures that the Bible speaks of. The photo here shows the grass during the rainy season, but you can imagine how sparse it becomes in the dry season.
Take another look at the image that’s created in your mind, and you’ll see dirt roads crisscrossing the hillsides. These trails are where the shepherd allows his sheep to wander on those little twigs, and they are spaced far enough apart that the sheep can reach the middle for a mouthful of herbaceous goodness.
It’s not a lot of grass. Just little twigs. But it is enough to take a bite and then walk a little further and give another portion. The shepherd guides the sheep through the twigs until each sheep has had a chance to eat. Sometimes there is not much grass, but it is enough for today’s meal.
The shepherd meets our needs
This is how God shepherds us. He does not lead us to lush green pastures where we have everything in abundance. No, God guides us on the right paths through the twigs that give us enough for today. Tomorrow will guide us through other ways to meet our daily needs. Some days he may bless us with many twigs, and other days there may be only a few. But there will always be enough for what we need.
As for lying down in green pastures, the shepherd creates enclosures where the sheep can safely rest at night and eat. In this sense, the green pastures are a place for us to rest under the watchful eye of the shepherd (God). God does not “make” us lie down, but he offers his peace and joy every day to those who seek it.
Isn’t that beautiful? It certainly changes our perspective of what David meant by green pastures, doesn’t it? Now, let’s take a look at the other half of Psalm 23:2 and what David meant by “still waters.”
Here in the western part of the world, it is a challenge to find someone who can take life in stride. We tend to focus on staying busy, working hard (sometimes to the extreme), managing our turntables, and finding the perfect work-life balance. Some days go by so blurry that it’s hard to catch our breath. God offers us the opportunity to stop all that.
The still waters we read about in Psalm 23:2 are not fast-moving rivers or even small streams, but rather a shallow, silent trickle of water flowing gently along. Maybe you know of a small stream near your house or have seen one in a park somewhere. It’s not deep, ankle deep at best, the flow is slow, and the bubbling of the water is incredibly soothing.
It is a place where you can breathe deeply and enjoy the sounds of nature. This is the kind of still water David is talking about. A shepherd would never lead his sheep into a fast-flowing river. It would be too dangerous and noisy and it would cause fear in the sheep. God does not want this for us. He longs to give us peace, rest, and repose, so He leads us to where the water is pure, clear, and almost still so we can refresh ourselves in Him.
It is a place where we can relax, be calm and still with Him, and experience His deep and pure love intimately. Because the water is so calm, we can even enter the Living Water and wade a bit, fully immersing ourselves in its grace and quenching our thirst. His invitation to drink of his peace is found in Isaiah 55:1 which says:
“Everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters.”
He reminds us again in Revelation 7:17 :
“For the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to fountains of living water.”
We cannot experience the serene power of still waters or quench our thirst when we only focus on our daily schedules and occupations. We must actively seek him every day so that he can bring us to a place of continual rest and prepare us for his kingdom work.
for the love of his name
God does not guide us through green pastures and still waters just for our own good. It’s all for the love of his name and his glory alone. We can only benefit from everything thanks to the grace of him. After the psalmist talks about green pastures and still waters in verse two, he says this. He notes the use of the word “route” again:
“ He restores my soul. He will guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake .” Psalm 23:3
Meeting our daily needs and offering us peace and rest are part of God’s desire to restore our souls, to revive us in Him. It is only through His power and grace that we can. He alone deserves all the glory and adoration for it.
The next time you’re feeling hectic and stressed and wondering how you’re going to get through the day, remember Psalm 23:2 . Allow God the Shepherd to guide you along His paths, knowing that He has everything under control. He knows what you need and will help you get it. All you need to do is trust Him. Your green pastures and still waters are closer than you think.
Lessons from Psalm 23
These are some of the teachings that you can obtain through the reading and analysis of Psalm 23:
1. Rest your mind from worrying
Worrying has been a regular part of our day and that’s perfectly normal. More importantly, you can rest your mind so you can focus more on what needs to be done. Today, in this first section we will focus on the first 2 verses of Psalm 23. We will learn how God is like a shepherd who takes good care of us, his sheep, and how he can help you keep your mind from worrying.
A shepherd gives provision (food and shelter) and protection (from danger and from other sheep). I learned that sheep are not the most intelligent of creatures and that they are easily startled! Aren’t they like most of us? We may not be afraid of ghosts, but sometimes we fear and worry about the dangers around us.
I, for one, have the “gift” of foresight, and can easily see what could go wrong in a given situation. Imagine how that can make me worry more! I think it’s more like a scary vision if you ask me.
My mind can go on and on and it’s really hard to rest it, even when I’m about to sleep.
Fortunately, God, our shepherd, makes sure that we do not lack anything. We can rest our minds on what He can do for us. This is what God does for us:
1. It makes us lie down
Since the sheep are easily frightened, you can’t bring them into the fold, otherwise they will think it’s a dangerous place and never enter. What the shepherd does is get the sheep to “come to him.” Is not it wonderful? I don’t know what shepherds do exactly, but if I were the sheep, I would go to a kind and loving shepherd who would offer me coffee and donuts!
All jokes aside, try to remember the times when God draws us to himself. For me, these would be the moments where he has shown his love and kindness, even when I don’t deserve it. He is a very loving God.
2. It makes us lie down in green pastures
Have you ever seen a puppy stretch out on your belly and crawl to feel the grass? Our pups do that, and they are so cute! Now picture yourself lying on clean grass under a cloudy sky, resting your mind and body.
This is how God wants us to be: refreshed, carefree, and calm. Green is a sign of life, and God wants us to be alive, well fed and surrounded by a provision that is more than enough to meet our needs.
3. He guides us
God shows us the way or gives us instructions so that we can have more than we need. Like a shepherd, he draws us to him so that we can lie down and rest. Then, in that state of rest, we begin to trust him more and our hearts are more in tune with what he wants us to do next. He will use his Word, but he can also use anything or anyone. And because he is our pastor, we know his heart and his voice, so you don’t have to worry about being confused.
4. He leads us to the waters
Some authors say that sheep can drink anywhere but prefer calm waters. Rightly so, as moving water is harder to drink and more dangerous. God our shepherd also leads us in the same way: away from danger, requiring less effort so that we can be truly renewed.
God does all these things and much more. He wants you to set your mind on Him, on His love, on His ability to meet your needs. If he follows him, he will be your shepherd leading you to places of rest, even in the midst of all of life’s troubles. How to rest your mind? Trusting in the One who is always thinking of you.
2. God wants to restore you
Sometimes we can be very worried and end up making very bad decisions that affect not only us, but also our loved ones. We end up losing a lot but God wants to restore us. God not only wants to restore what you had, but more importantly, he wants to restore your spirit, your heart .
We worry too much about the things that happen every day. When we worry, we forget other things that we would like to do and we tend to neglect ourselves. We spend so much time trying to make more money or doing things to please others that we even forget what we love most. We forget who we really are as we struggle to stay afloat.
Dear friend, that is not what God wants for you. God not only wants to provide for you, but he also wants to heal you again. He wants to restore you. Our soul is what gives us life and meaning. It is the sum of who we are, what we like, what we love, and how we feel about the things that happen around us.
When we were kids, we always talked about what we wanted to be when we grow up. We have dreams and ambitions and there were no limits to what we think we can become. But when we become adults, we start to face more responsibilities like paying our bills, tuition, supporting our families and the list goes on.
We begin to worry as life becomes more difficult every day. When that happens, we start to lose our vision of the future as we continue to deal with more pressing issues and deadlines. We also meet people who break our hearts and even our spirits.
Fortunately, God can take care of the things that worry us. What’s more, he wants to give us back what we have lost along the way. Here are some more things God can do if we trust Him:
1. God wants to restore your soul
As we continue to trust God for our daily needs and concerns, we can also trust Him to restore and refresh us, and even restart our lives. We can start thinking about our passions again, like writing or traveling, or spending quality time with family and friends. When we are free from worry, we are also free to spend more time meditating on God’s Word. I love how the psalmist said:
“My life is stuck on earth. Now make me live again according to your promise!” ( Psalms 119:25 )
2. God wants to restore your honor.
Our judgment is clouded when we worry too much and end up making really bad decisions. We also become more prone to those who want to take advantage of us, those who seem to offer help just so they can take us away. We end up losing more in the end and unfortunately, some people would even look down on us when this happens.
Psalm 23 says that God leads us into ” paths of righteousness (justice, vindication) “. It is not about God teaching us to behave correctly, but about God giving us what is rightfully His. One of the many names of God is “Jehovah Tsidkenu”, God our righteousness, as mentioned in this verse:
“In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is his name by which he will be called; “The LORD our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6)
When you trust God, He shows you the way that will surely bring justice to restore what you have lost. He also frees you from any shame or guilt and returns you to your rightful position of honor. Isn’t that amazing? God not only provides so that you don’t have to worry, but he also gives you a way to become whole again. He truly is a wonderful and loving God!
Think of people or circumstances that have left you tired and broken, which have made you think about giving up on life. Keep trusting God to guide you and expect life to change and improve. Who knows what God will do for you! Expect the best from your Creator.
3 Do you feel lost and confused?
Psalm 23 talks about how God is our shepherd who provides for us and restores us. The more we trust in Him, the less we tend to worry. However, there are times in our lives when we feel lost and confused, and it is very difficult to think that God is still with us. Either we make poor decisions or we get stuck when we feel lost. We can’t go on. During these moments, God is still with you and he is there to guide you when you feel lost and confused.
Psalm 23:4 tells us how God is with us even during those dark days. Life is not a bed of roses or a grassy hill. In our journey through life, there will be valleys, deep and dark, that we will have to go through to continue moving forward. You may be walking in broad daylight, but in your heart you are confused and you have no idea what will happen next.
It’s like you’re covered by a death-like shadow and you’re almost afraid to take a step or make a decision because you feel like you’re making a mistake, but you’re not sure either. You feel lost even though you know why you are there. I remember the early days when we were getting into the business.
One day, in particular, I felt lost and confused, and almost wanted to give up. She was lying on the couch, facing the wall, and she was praying, “God, I don’t want to do this anymore!” Fortunately, we did not give up. We realized that God had been with us all along as our problems were resolved one by one. He had prepared all the solutions and they all came at the right time.
We just had to be patient and keep trusting Him. Like the shepherd in Psalm 23, God is with us no matter where we go, be it green pastures or dark valleys. When we realize that, we start to worry less about things that might happen down the road. God makes sure that we are always on the right path.
1. God protects us, even when we do not see the dangers around us
The shepherd uses his stick to protect the sheep from wolves and other predators. It is like a staff that he can use to hit the enemy so that his herd can pass through safely. Predators are very good at hiding in the dark to wait for their prey, and the shepherd knows it. Look around you, ready to kill the enemy, while the sheep don’t even care where they go.
God is like that. He is always here to protect us from those who want to destroy or steal from us. Most of the time, we are not aware of the plans that people have set against us, but God knows. And because he knows, you can prevent bad things from happening to us by stopping the enemy in his tracks, so he doesn’t even have a chance to hurt us.
2. God guides us especially when we do not see where we are going
There are times when we have to make a decision that will change our lives. Most of the time, the options seem good and there seems to be no way of knowing which one is best for us. And then there’s the rare occasion when we don’t see an option and we’re stuck where we are. We feel lost and confused, and we forget that God is always with us.
God is always here to help. Like a shepherd, he uses the hook of his staff to gently point us in the right direction. He speaks to our hearts or gives us dreams, or uses people to warn us so that we don’t walk through dangerous places or get lost. Above all, he has given us the Bible to read and know him more, so that we can trust him more and stop worrying.
Do you feel lost and confused right now? Believe that God cares and that he is taking care of you. He is here to protect you and guide you on the right path. You will come out of that valley knowing that God is always leading you.
4 When enemies surround you
What do you do when you feel that people are against you? Who do you consider as your enemies? What are the things around you that make your life more difficult? Previously, we learned that God is our good shepherd and leads us to places of provision. He also makes us rest so that we can be refreshed and restored in the midst of all worries.
God restores our honor, returning us to the place that belongs to us, the one that we could have lost when people tried to hurt us. He is also with us wherever we go, even in the darkest moments of our lives. And He is there to protect and guide us when we feel lost.
I am so excited to tell you what I learned about a God in this verse! Several studies have been done on Psalm 23, and it is very rich in meaning. Although you may not be able to show them everything, I am sure you will be blessed with this short article. I read the previous verse, Psalm 23:4, and pictured in my mind a flock of sheep going through a deep, dark valley.
In that valley there were wolves hiding behind the trees and bushes, ready to attack. But there was also the shepherd who knew what was going on, and he stepped forward to hit the enemies with his staff to protect the sheep before the wolves had a chance to attack. This image reminds me that in our life, we are surrounded by enemies who are looking to attack us or see us fail.
I’m almost scared to do anything when I think about this, always thinking about what others will say if I make a mistake. Psalm 23:5 assures us that in the midst of all these dangers, God is still with us and lavishes us with his blessings. I can imagine a banquet table in front of me, filled with the most delicious food.
At the same time, I imagine bad people, people who hate me, looking at me through the glass windows as I enjoy the food they prepare for me. It’s almost like God is showing me something, and I feel like I’m his favorite person. Psalm 23:5 gives us some clues as to how God shows us to victory. We must take into account the following:
1. God prepares your blessings carefully
Our pastor loves us so much that he carefully prepares his blessings to please us. God knows what you like or doesn’t like, he knows what your favorites are. He knows how to make you smile and how to surprise you. More importantly, God knows what you expect and thinks of ways to overcome that and make you even happier. God loves you like this!
2. God bless you so much to prosper
Psalm 23:5 speaks of anointing the head with oil to receive or show hospitality. It shows you how special you are to Him. Oil is also a symbol of wealth or prosperity. God not only wants to shower his blessings on you, he wants to make you prosper.
His blessings can be in the form of wealth, health, wisdom for your work or business, or beauty inside and out. The Lord wants to give you all of these things, so why not ask for all of them?
3. God blesses you so that you can be a blessing to others.
In Psalm 23:5, the psalmist said that the “ cup overflows ”, not with water but with good wine, a symbol of happiness. God’s blessings will make you so happy that you won’t be able to hide it from the people around you! You will also have more than enough to bless others. In the end, you will have more joy in your heart and will want to share your blessings again.
Dear friend, God loves you so much and wants to bless you, even in the midst of all the dangers and hostility of this world. Keep trusting in Him and let Him guide you. You will find that all your concerns will be answered one by one. Begin to trust him and you will begin to stop worrying as you see more of his blessings.
Are you now more excited to trust God? It will be difficult at first, but remember that He is here to help. Let me encourage you more as we go through this study.
5. Trust in God and attract blessings in your life
We have shared before that the sheep are easily frightened, so the job of the shepherd is to make them come to him. We have been learning about how God is our good shepherd who cares for us and guides us, and I hope I have been able to encourage you to come to God and trust Him.
Writing about Psalm 23 has made me very happy and if you read every article about every verse of Psalm 23, you will easily find out why. Now to our lesson! Let’s read Psalm 23:6. How do we attract God’s blessings? When we let God be our shepherd, we trust him every day to meet our needs and give us the desires of our hearts, to lift us up and restore what we have lost.
We seek to follow His direction, knowing that He always protects us and we hope that He will give us many blessings. Then we start to worry less because we know that God has all the answers. We also learn to wait patiently for his supply to arrive at the right time. But that is not all! When we choose to trust God, He will do these things every minute, every hour, every day! He is always here for us.
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1. God’s goodness brings you health, prosperity, and happiness
God’s goodness or favor will follow you everywhere and is there to bless you. Its purpose is to keep you in good health so that you can enjoy all that God will give you. It is there to bless relationships with your family, friends, and colleagues. It favors you so that your business prospers and generates more income. Wherever you are, God’s goodness is there for you, so you can live a happier life.
2. God’s mercy and mercy are always available to you
We are not perfect most of the time and there will be days when it will be too hard to trust God. Sometimes we end up hurting people, mainly because we are too preoccupied or distracted with life. When this happens, God’s mercy is with you to forgive you and help you restore what was broken.
He loves you so much that even when you forget about Him, He is still there watching over you, like a good shepherd. I can imagine God taking every opportunity to show you his love, sending help in every way possible, until you have no more reason not to trust him. He loves you too much to let you go.
3. The goodness and mercy of God pursue you all day long!
A literal translation of Psalm 23:5 says that surely, without a doubt, God’s goodness and mercy will not only follow you but will haunt you every day. If you run from his blessings, he will run after you. When you stay home, God’s goodness remains with you.
If you go to work, His goodness will follow you there. God’s goodness and mercy will follow you wherever you go, not just once in a while, but throughout the day and night! Finally, after listing and thinking about the many things that God has been doing for him, the psalmist decides to dwell in God’s house forever.
I would love to say the same! Dwelling in the house of God is being with Him every day, aware that He is here with us, and being the good shepherd of those who trust in Him. But how do we follow Him? Jesus assures us:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” ( John 10:27 ).
When we choose to trust God, He helps us to follow Him. In my experience, reading the Bible and talking to my fellow believers has helped me a lot. There is peace in my heart in the midst of all the problems, and I know that I am where God wants me to be. It is very difficult to explain, but you will know when you begin to trust God. Remember, He is always there for you. He is your good and loving Shepherd.
That is the end of our study on Psalm 23. Thinking of God’s goodness and mercy makes me very happy, and I will definitely go back and read each verse from time to time. I pray that we will see more clearly all the big and small things that God works around us so that we can trust Him more. Let me know what God is doing for you by leaving a comment below. I will be excited to hear about God’s goodness in your life! Thank you for your time and have more blessed days ahead!