Below is the 23rd Psalm. I believe much of this Psalm is a prophetic statement of the body of Christ, in the hands of a Loving God, a story of redemption in grace in Christ Jesus. I have broken down each verse to show God’s plan for our lives in His grace. I believe that David knew of the coming Messiah which would redeem the world, filling it with His goodness and love. These words are my viewpoint.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, 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.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want . . .
Christ was appointed to be our Shepherd by God the Father, and by His saving grace He was submissive to the cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ is omniscient, and as God He knows all his sheep and their infirmities, their needs, and their weaknesses. When we are lost, He knows where to find us. When we are in need, He knows what to supply, when we are hungry, He knows what to feed us. His love for us is pure, and as God, He is omnipotent and has all power in heaven and in earth. He saves us from all harm; He protects us from all evil, He defends us and rescues us. He is our all in all, all knowledge and wisdom is His. He will guide us and direct us for His name’s sake. He is the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd—and we, the sheep of His pasture.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters . . .
Here to me “green pastures” symbolizes the Covenant of Grace born at Calvary. In Christ, we are recipients of all the blessings and promises of that Grace. In these green pastures we may feed on the goodness of God—in the fullness of Christ. It is in Christ that our grace is received. We are the sheep in His pasture. Here God invites us to “lie down”, make ourselves comfortable, kick back, and relax. This is God demonstrating to us the safety and fullness we have wrapped in His Grace. In Christ we are fed in these pastures, satisfied in the Spirit, and replenished in our souls as we lie down covered by His Grace as we feed on His goodness.
Here “still waters” symbolizes the eternal, everlasting love of God which flows from His throne like a river. In these streams, the hearts of his people are made joyous and glad. These waters flow from His holy sanctuary by His Spirit, they rise to our ankles, knees, hips and chest and cover our heads with His glory. These waters are a holy river to immerse ourselves in. It is the pure river, the water of life, to which Christ leads us and invites us to drink freely and have our fill. Christ invites us to partake of this water in John 4—“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake . . .
He restores my soul—this means literally, I was dead. He caused my life to return to me. He quickens our soul and causes us to live. The word soul here means life, spirit, and our very existence. The scripture here is referring to when we are exhausted, weary, sad, broken, when the very life has gone out of us. Here God is showing us that even in the most dire of straits, He will bring us back from the dead and give us life, quickening and reviving our spirit when we are beaten down, disheartened and exhausted. He will bring us back when we are weary, troubled, anxious, broken, stomped on, shattered, and overburdened with toil and care. He will breathe into us the breath of life by His Spirit renewing and reanimating us. In His restoration, our life will have new vigor. We will be excited as we are given life anew—joyous, filled with His grace and glory.
He leads me in the “paths of righteousness” refers to the plain paths of His truth and holiness. These paths may sometimes seem rough and rugged to us, but they are not crooked. In Christ there is no turning to the right or to the left. The paths of His righteousness lead straight on to the city of God. These paths are righteous ones, pure ones, and paths of duty. In these paths we are to follow and adhere to His commandments and ordinances. In Christ we are to walk by faith, believing in His righteousness, following His guidance as we overcome all in Him, by His grace and by the word of our testimony that is filled with eternal life in Christ Jesus.
For his name’s sake . . .
May all things in our lives work to exalt Him and the glory and honor of his grace, and not to lift ourselves up or bring attention to ourselves. May His holy name be at the center of all we do and all that we are.
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 meaning of the first part of this verse is this: “God will lead and guide us as we walk in His paths of righteousness. As we walk therein, we will find that among the path there will be times when we are walking through deep, dark, gloomy valleys—where everything seems hopeless and dismal. Many times in our lives we will walk in darkness, in regions where there is no light to be seen. It will seem as if death itself has cast its dark shadow all around us. It is in those times we can be assured that we are still on the right path, for the path of righteousness is a path of safety, and His path will lead us to where there is light, hope, and promise. It is when we find ourselves in that dark and gloomy valley, when we cannot find our way that we need not be alarmed. We do not need to be afraid of falling, or of becoming lost, for He is there with us. We need not fear that there are enemies hiding in the darkness waiting to assail us. Be assured that our Shepherd is there with us in every path of gloom or sadness, in all trouble or sorrow, in every dark, evil and dangerous place. As we let this verse soak into our spirit we can rest assured that this applies not only to death itself, but it applies to every moment in our lives when we are down, and every fiber of our being is invaded with sadness, loneliness, and sorrow. We can take comfort that our Shepherd will be our guide as we walk in His path.
We need to fear no evil, even though it may seem dark, and simply dreadful. We need not to dread, become anxious, or live in mortal fear. As children of the living God we need not fear even in the deepest, darkest valley we find ourselves in. He is always there with us, guiding us, protecting us, and caring for us. He will always lead us safely through the hardest of times, wrapped in His loving arms. We have nothing to fear in even the darkest hours of our lives, we have nothing to fear in the valley of death, we have nothing to fear in the grave, we have nothing to fear in the world to come as we will forever be with our Lord.
When He says He is with us, that is exactly what He means. “For you are with me” says it all. We may not see Him, but He is there. We may not feel Him, but He is there. As we walk, we do not walk alone, He is there as our companion, our comforter, our protector, our guide, and our help in time of need—HE IS THERE!
We read in God’s Word that there is an appointed time for every person to die. We will all face the reality of dying, but we will not face it alone. As we die, we are surrounded by our loved ones and as they are there holding our hands and as our eyes grow dim, we are not alone—HE IS THERE! As we travel in the valley from one world to the next, Jesus Christ our Savior is there with us, reaching out and taking our hands in His as our loved ones simultaneously release our hands here on earth. As we pass, from this life to the next, we will be in His presence and we will be comforted as we emerge from this world into the heavenly world beyond. All that is needed to wipe away all our fears of death is to be able to say “You are with me”.
Thy rod and thy staff . . .
The rod and staff are what the shepherd used for balance, as a means of support, to guard his steps as he walked. It was used for guiding his sheep, for guarding the flock, and driving off enemies. We are to be reminded that we can take comfort as we see our Shepherd with his rod and staff—the very sight of them comforts us, as they show us He is there, ready and able to defend us in our every need. They impart confidence, showing that He will not leave us alone, and that He is always there equipped to defend us in all situations.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over . . .
You prepare a table before me, and it is spread in my presence, and set for me. God is our host and He prepares a banquet for us even when it seems as if things are insecure around us. We are able to sit at the table of our King and feast, protected by His majesty as we partake of His goodness in perfect peace. We are able to sit at His table confidently, and though surrounded by enemies, we feast in perfect security provided by our Lord. He invites us to come and feast on His goodness and grace. His sufficiency supplies our every need, as He lays and spreads a table for us, His children. We are partakers by His grace and invitation as He sets us down, and bids us to come sup and dine with Him.
In the presence of mine enemies . . .
What this is saying here is that it does not matter what our enemies think and/or do, they cannot interfere with our invitation from God Himself. We sit at a table made by the hands of Almighty God. It is by His divine favor that we are invited to partake of the feast that is savored with His grace.
“I’ll take a side of Jesus with these biscuits please.” :o)
You anoint my head with oil . . .
What this symbolizes is God pouring His Spirit upon us so abundantly that we are overwhelmed by it. The expression here notate God in great abundance. In ancient Israel, it was the custom to anoint the head during festive occasions as an indication of prosperity, happiness, and rejoicing. This entire process indicates that we are in God’s divine favor as He prospers us, and fills us with His joy resulting from His redemptive grace.
My cup runs over . . .
We see here that His word is indicating that we can be the recipients in abundance of good and wonderful things from our Lord. Not lost in this passage is His gift to us of spiritual blessings. When we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ, our cup always runs over. It is by the grace of our Lord that we receive these abundant gifts. He is the portion of our cup—it flows over as He supplies our every need, pressed down, shaken up and running over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever . . .
Grace, love, favor, and the salvation of God in Christ Jesus is with us always, and is always the same yesterday, today and forever. It is from everlasting to everlasting. These blessings flow from the goodness and mercy of God, and not from our own merit, or by anything of which we can boast. We are the recipients of His great mercy and loving kindness given freely to us. We must always be cognizant to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We receive the love of God freely that He provides to us, His children. When we are down, broken, rebellious, undeserving, and even spiteful His grace is sufficient to supply all our needs.
All the days of my life . . .
Wow, this encompasses it all. We need to be reminded that the mercies of God are new every morning, in the afternoon and all throughout the midnight hours. His goodness abides in us, and with us as long as our life lasts here on earth and continues in the world to come. Our being and existence begins and ends with His grace, blessings, and goodness. His blessings are forever, His gifts are forever, His mercy is forever, and His grace is forever. They are the gifts of God, which are without repentance.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever . . .
This here is indicative of our constant attendance, daily in the presence of God, both publically and privately. We are a pillar in the house and temple of the Lord. We are there by His grace. We are built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ by His grace and we cannot be removed. We are intertwined brick-by-brick.
Revelation 3:12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God–the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
Our future rests with our Lord in a dwelling in the house not made with human hands, but eternal, in the most holy heavenly place. It is a home that we will share forever with Christ in which there are many mansions, pure holy dwellings, quiet resting places for us—His people—where we will spend all of eternity with Christ—basking in His glory, partaking of His grace.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
If I don’t see you in this lifetime, I will see you there. Blessings