New Living Translation
A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
he restores my soul. He guides 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.
Sheep guarded by a skilled shepherd are led to food and water, and protected from harm. In the same way, David praises God for giving him peace. The knowledge of God’s protection and provision are a great comfort. This psalm incorporates themes of supply, defense, assurance, and care from God.
What does Psalm 23:1 mean?
These words are some of the most-frequently quoted in the entire Old Testament. Even those unfamiliar with the Bible may recognize this verse, which has been used in countless ways over the ages.
In this verse David expresses his confidence in the Lord as his shepherd. The word for “LORD” in this verse is from a Hebrew term known as the tetragrammaton. This is four letters: yodh, he, waw, he; in English these are essentially YHWH. This is often transliterated as Yahweh or even Jehovah. This is the biblical name of the covenant-keeping God of Israel.
David knew by personal experience that Yahweh shepherds His people. He cares for all their needs. When he was a shepherd boy, David cared for his sheep, making sure all their needs were met. In similar fashion the Lord cared for David. David lacked nothing. Believers, too, can be sure the Lord, the Good Shepherd, meets all our needs. He listens to our prayers, and if we call on Him, we will receive His grace and help in a time of need (Hebrews 4:14–16).
An interesting name for the Lord is found in Genesis 22:14. Abraham had been commanded by God to take Isaac and sacrifice him. When Isaac inquired of his father Abraham where the lamb was for the burnt offering, Abraham told him the Lord would provide the sacrifice. As Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, the angel of the LORD stopped him. Abraham had demonstrated his faith in God. The Lord provided a ram that was caught in a thicket by its horns as a sacrifice instead. Abraham promptly sacrificed the ram and called the site of the sacrifice, Jehovah-Jireh, meaning “The Lord will provide.”
Psalm 23:1–3 extolls the blessings bestowed on David by the Lord, his personal shepherd. The scene is peaceful and personal. In John 10:11 Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd. He does for His sheep what David describes in Psalm 23:1–3. He leads his sheep (John 10:3–4); guides them to pasture (John 10:9); restores their souls (Joh 10:10); and protects them (John 10:11–15).
David celebrates the protection and guidance of God. Sheep guarded by a skilled shepherd are led to food and water, and protected from harm. In the same way, David praises God for giving him peace. The knowledge of God’s protection and provision are a great comfort. This psalm incorporates themes of supply, defense, assurance, and care from God.
It was by divine design that this Psalm so beautifully describes the Lord God as our great and caring Shepherd, for although it is often used as great comfort at a time of death or bereavement – it is equally a Psalm that points to the Lord Jesus Christ as our sustenance and support in every season of our lives. For the Lord is our Provider and Peace; the Lord is our Strength and Stay: the Lord is our Righteousness and our Reward – the Lord is our Sanctuary and our Shepherd.
It was by divine design that David personalised this Psalm to read: the Lord is MY Shepherd. He is indeed your Shepherd and He is our Shepherd and He is the Shepherd of all that love and trust Jesus as Saviour, for we are the sheep of His pasture and none can pluck us out of His hands. But we can rightly say the Lord is MY Shepherd – for He is with each of us every step of the way, to lead and to comfort – to guard and to guide. He is with us in the good times and throughout those difficult days and He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us but to be our constant Companion and our ever-present Comforter.
It was by divine design that the Lord Jesus is so beautifully represented as a tender shepherd – the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for His sheep – the Great Shepherd Who loves His own with a deep compassion – the Chief Shepherd that rescues His scattered straying – stupid sheep and gives them life – eternal life… abundant life. Truly we can say in confidence: the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength and guides me along right paths, which brings honour to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I need never be afraid, for Jesus is close beside me. His rod and staff protect and comfort me. He prepares a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. He honours me by anointing my head with oil and my cup overflows with multiplied blessings. Surely His grace and goodness and unfailing love and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of my LORD forever.