Psalm 23 is one of the most quoted Psalms in the Bible, one that every homeschooler memorizes in second grade and every pastor pushes us to recite. Its popular verses and calm tone seem to reappear in church time and time again.
What is a Christian meditation on Psalm 23?
Let’s not pressure ourselves to memorize the whole passage, since meditation is not just filling our minds with God’s word, but filling our heart and spirit as well. Slow down and soak up these six verses.
Psalm 23 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow
me allthe days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the
Ask and Listen
As you read through Psalm 23, ask Jesus to speak to you and ask Holy Spirit what He wants to reveal to you.
Listen to His voice, because the ultimate goal is to have a conversation with Jesus through the power of His Holy Spirit. Conversations are not one-sided, so why would our relationship with Jesus be?
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want
The beautiful part about this verse is that David, the author of this psalm, begins by reminding us of who God is. Jesus refers to Himself in John 10:1-18 as the gate. We, like sheep, are to walk through the gate to see our Good Shepherd.
He is good because He lays down His life for the sheep, and not only that, but He picks it back up so that we may know the Father and love Him. Now that we have the Father, we have everything we need, and shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
When sheep lie down, they are not wandering, searching, or staying alert for possible threats. They are full and restful, knowing there are no bugs to bother them and no wolves hunting them. When they lie beside still waters, they know the current is safe and not too strong to sweep them down the river.
As God’s sheep, we can rest knowing He is protecting us and leading us into green pastures. Pastures filled with growth instead of death and peaceful waters instead of dangerous ones.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
In the CSB version, it says that “He renews my life”. As Christians, we know that we are new creations, born again into a beautiful relationship with Jesus. His Spirit renews us, giving us strength by His power, not ours.
The Good Shepherd is leading us on the right path for our life. The path is pure and holy because of Jesus’ blood.
That path, right here, right now, is where you are meant to be. There has been no mistake. God knew it wouldn’t be a straight line to get to where you are. Maybe there are a few loop-d-loops or some zigzags, but it’s all for His glory, your good, and other’s freedom.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The valley of the shadow of death is a real place for some of us, full of depression and hardships. Even Jesus felt depression in the garden of Gethsemane when He said “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”, Matthew 26:38 NIV. Despite these words, Jesus followed through to the purpose God gave Him, even though it was painful.
Even though. These are some powerful words.
We know as Christians that it is well with our souls eternally, but that doesn’t mean that our lives are perfect. Even when life sucks and when we don’t understand, we still have our Good Shepherd guiding us.
Jesus understood the purpose of His suffering, He knew the reward would be greater than the pain. Now, because Jesus defeated evil for us, we don’t have to fear. He is with us, comforting us to the end of the age.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
In the midst of chaos, in the very presence of our enemies, we can sit and commune with God. Imagine a war going on. There is in fact, a real spiritual war going on all around us, but what would it say to the enemy if we were to sit down at a table with God, our general and leader?
The war is already won.
Yes, there are times to prepare for spiritual battle and put on the armor of God, yes there are times to fight. But God is inviting us to sit in His presence, not focus on the enemy that is all around us, because as close as the enemy is, our Jesus is even closer.
The anointing is on us also, as it was for David. David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as king long before his reign actually began.
And like David, just because you don’t feel like you’re in the place God has called you to, doesn’t mean that you aren’t His chosen, His holy nation, His royal priesthood. Since we are His sons and daughters, we overflow with His love and our cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
God’s goodness and mercy are sweet gifts that follow us, not because we have earned them but because He is the Good Giver. They follow us all the days of our lives, not just the good days, but the meh days, the sad days, the funky days, and the amazing ones too.
Our Good Shepherd is not only with us in this life, but also in the one to come. He has invited us into His house, where we can dwell forever, made possible by the sacrifice of His only son Jesus.
I can guarantee you that this invitation is better than any party invite you’ve ever received.
Application and Prayer
If you’ve never accepted Jesus’ invitation and would like to now, believe that He loves you and died for you so that He could be your Good Shepherd. Tell a trusted friend or family member so that you can walk you through the next steps.
If you have accepted that invitation and know that Jesus is your Good Shepherd, imagine what it would be like to fully believe everything in Psalm 23 and everything Jesus is teaching you. Imagine what it would be like to live that out.
God’s word not only informs us but also transforms us, giving us hope and the comfort that we are not alone.
Since there’s power to change our lives and restore our souls, let’s enter into the Father’s house and pray for that transformation, meditating in the comforting presence of our Good Shepherd.