As a child, prior to entering kindergarten, my mother taught me Psalms 23. For years I was able to recite the passage but did not have revelation of it until my adult life. During a stressful day at work, I took a break and began to write Psalms 23. After writing the entire scripture I began to examine what I wrote.
Obviously, David was a writer just as well as a king. However, in review, I realized that prior to becoming king, David was a shepherd and it was his personal experience as a shepherd that enabled him to metaphorically exalt God in his goodness by comparing Him to such. Because of his experience David could decipher a “good shepherd” from one who may have been “average,” or “insufficient.”
Let’s examine the passage. I will highlight insight throughout the reading and the examination will be from both the King James Version and the New Living Translation.
23 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 forever. (KJV)
23 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.3He 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. (NLT)
As the shepherd, God provides our needs. He gives us the best which is indicative by the adjectives David uses (“green” pastures and “still” waters opposed to the pastures or waters most convenient for Him). He does not leave us unattended to guess or make mistakes (leads us in the path of righteousness for His namesake); he guides us and shows us. He is our protector. Even in instances that we should feel anxious, angry, uneasy, etc. we can be at peace and carry on-feasting at the table he has prepared for us in the presence of our enemies. We are beyond blessed (our cups runneth over). David was able to trust that he will remain well taken care of under the provision of the shepherd. Hence, goodness and mercy shall follow and he will remain under the watch and care of the shepherd forever.
Just like David, our experience with God is what allows us to speak- to testify, if you will, of how good He is. God is surely THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Just my two cents, I find it beautiful that David was inspired by the Most High to write about the Most High in a way that is so plain and timeless. I love it.
Grace and Peace,