How to Understand Psalm 23

Is the 23rd Psalm[1] one of your favorite Psalms? Well, here is one commentary, one phrase at a time. You may encourage yourself or others with the Word and verify these comments, respecting God and His plan for each of us...


  1. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 1
    Read and study the 23rd Psalm[2]-- and Be mindful of God's still small voice:
    1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
    3. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
    4. Truly, 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.
    5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
    6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
  2. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 2
    Take it phrase by phrase. Consider each line.
  3. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 3
    Think of the implications to you and your sphere of influence for life, both mountain top and the darkest valley. One example of meaning is given:
    • "The Lord is my Shepherd" -- That involves a one-on-one relationship, as an individual -- not just a number in a flock!
    • "I shall not want" -- That's the source for your needs: your Shepherd supplies the way, truth and the life!
    • "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures" -- That's splendid contentment -- plenty of rest!
    • "He leadeth me beside the still waters" -- That's cool, peaceful refreshment!
    • "He restoreth my soul" -- That's provision for revitalization and healing!
    • "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness" -- That's leadership and guidance in following God's will!
    • "For His namesake" -- That gives a higher purpose for life!
    • "Truly, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" -- That's about testing in the darkest valley, even through death!
    • "I will fear no evil" -- That's knowing you are protected even at your lowest hour!
    • "For Thou art with me" -- That's the constant faithfulness of The Shepherd!
    • "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me" -- That's God's protection against the enemies!
    • "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" -- That's assurance of support and hope in danger!
    • "Thou annointest my head with oil" -- That's care, dedication and consecration!
    • "My cup runneth over" -- That's His abundance flowing to you and out to others!
    • "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" -- That's the blessing and power of grace, through faith remembering "God is Love," not just words!
    • "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord" -- That's home and security in the Lord's provision/Heaven!
    • "Forever." -- That's now and always -- for eternity!
  4. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 4
    Decide what is most valuable to you:
    • Is it just: "What you have" in your life?
    • Is it more: "Who you have" in your life?
  5. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 5
    Be available to God's will to walk in Biblical concepts.
  6. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 6
    Seek God while He may be found. Which means after you get yourself in trouble -- but better yet -- seek Him beforehand.
  7. Image titled Understand Psalm 23 Step 7
    Seek scriptural wisdom and knowledge which does not ridicule faith -- plus always listen to your better judgment (not your careless, angry or silly side) for serious matters; believe Jesus that He will never leave you, but that He sends comfort and guidance by the Holy Spirit.


  • If the Lord is your Shepherd, then His way surely will "interfere" in your life... So how does change sound. If you pray for help, that could be like an "intervention": be ready for possible interference in your plans that either are or are not in His will. Are you that open to that kind of new life (following... the Shepherd)?
  • "Fear (Respect and honor) Him, in all your ways, and in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 96: 8, 9) That scripture can make the 23rd Psalm become more real to you.
    • What is sufficient?: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." [That boast is like: "I am weak but He strengthens me!"] (2 Corinthians 12:9)[3] to stand with Him in and by His strength.
    • All compliments and praise can be reflected back to him: "Yes, by the power of God, including His grace, I can do all that I must."


  • Remember: the Lord's grace is sufficient -- as you follow Him and Glorify God (Christianity) in your life.
    • One may seek Christ and "be born again" and become a follower of Jesus the Christ -- then trusting, obeying Him, also doing His works, offering eternal hope to the hopeless.
  • Do not ask the Lord Jesus to guide your footsteps unless you are willing to move your feet, mind and activities -- and follow His lead.
    • Jesus told his disciples to come on and "follow me" now. "Do not say it is yet four months and then comes the Harvest, for it [the harvest of souls] is now ripe..." (John 4:35)[4] Now, but realize that there are different members of the body -- some are strong and some are dealing with weakness that they want to overcome; you may help someone, but realize there are freeloaders, tyrants, liars and mentally unbalanced people who are not trustworthy, who may cross your path and present a devastating challenge. Yet, the Shepherd shall not leave those following His path, especially in the inevitable time of loss, even to the end, "resting" in Him -- knowing you shall rise in new life, in the place prepared by Him.

Sources and Citations

  • Partially based on an email with two words for each line like: " 'The Lord is my Shepherd' -- That's relationship!" asking everyone to send it on to friends and family.
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Categories: Christianity | Bibles