When crises or troublesome times come about, many of us recite David’s 23rd Psalm to remind ourselves of God’s love and protection. It is one of the shortest psalms, yet it is the most well-known and probably remembered and cited more than any other.
No matter what the situation, it reminds us that God is all-powerful. The first verse, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1, KJV), reminds our hearts that we belong to the Great God Almighty through Jesus Christ, and He is our Shepherd. He has already laid down His life for us, as the Good Shepherd, and we can rely on Him to care for us all of our days.
Verse two teaches us that God not only created all of the green pastures of our lives, but that He “makes” us lie down for periods of rest — as the loving Father, He makes sure we are well-rested and refreshed. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:2).
Just as in the Garden of Eden where God would walk through the garden in the cool of the day to talk with Adam, He makes His presence known in our lives. He gives us all the time we need to come to Him in prayer, pour out our cares and concerns to Him, and He leads us and guides us “beside the still waters,” meaning He provides those quiet comforting times of peace to just be in His presence of love.
David makes the statement — not a request — that God restores the soul. When we look back on our lives, we see that God was there for us every time we called upon Him. “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3).
He refreshes our hearts and our lives; He shows us daily graces that comfort and heal our hearts; and He literally restores our souls. God is the great healer — the original surgeon.
In the Garden of Eden, He saw that Adam, all of mankind, needed a helpmate, Eve, so He put Adam to sleep, took one of his ribs and created Eve. God does not only come in to help us when we are broken, downhearted or suffering, He also looks at our lives and sees what would make us more complete, happier, more joyful; and He provides that for us too. He places people and circumstances in our lives that will encourage us to live more obediently — thereby more righteously — for Him.
When we are facing danger or death, whether a quick one or a long and suffering one, He knows. When our lives or our livelihoods are threatened, He knows. He is with us all the way.
“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.” (Psalm 23:4).
Even during those times when we suffer illness or get ourselves into danger, He loves us and helps us. Sometimes He has to “take the rod to us” to discipline us in His great love and mercy, and sometimes He has to “use the staff” to drag us out of harms way — away from evil.
Even when the enemy has surrounded us and it looks hopeless, our Father is able and willing to set a table for us to eat in peace. We forget this too often. The next time it seems that the devil and his followers have your surrounded (symbolically), just sit down and feed on God’s Word by reciting this verse. No matter how many thousands of enemy soldiers have your surrounded, our God is able to set a table before us and feed us — give us peace and comfort in knowing that He can and will protect us.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalm 23:5).
Not only that, He sanctifies us through Christ Jesus and our empty and desolate feelings become overflowing joy and abundance.
Because we believe in Christ, we know that His goodness and His mercy are ours.
“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 23:6). And when this life is over, we will live eternally with our Savior. The 23rd Psalm is not just a prayer, it is a fact — for believers.