One of the most well-known and best-loved Psalms in the Bible is Psalm 23. For me, this is because the words are such a joyful declaration of trust in God. If we use the words of Psalm 23 as prayer points, we are identifying ourselves with God’s people in the past and the present. There is something powerful in knowing that our voices are joining with others, throughout the world, who are using this Psalm to declare their faith and draw near to God.
What Does Psalm 23 Say?
The words of this Psalm are familiar to most of us. But sometimes it is good to pause and reflect on what we think we know and look for fresh understanding. We may discover a deeper meaning as we use the words of Psalm 23 as prayer points and start to apply them to our own life. The word of God is powerful, not only when it is read, but, when it becomes part of our own experience.
Psalm 23 Prayer Points
As we read through the words of Psalm 23 we can reflect on each verse, and allow the words to form our prayer. Each verse highlights a point to pray for, drawing us closer to God as we focus our thoughts on Him.
- To affirm our faith
- Celebrate the abundance of God.
- A reminder of God’s guidance.
- Hope and comfort of His presence with us.
- Acknowledgement of God’s provision and protection
- Thankful praise and worship for His faithfulness to us!
The Psalm opens with a declaration of confident faith. The Hebrew word for LORD here is Yahweh, the name for a relational God who wants to be known by His people. This name for God is linked to His acts as rescuer and redeemer – our loving LORD who promises to never leave us.
This declaration is personal and present. It isn’t that the Lord has been, or is sometimes, our Shepherd. It is spoken with confidence that He is our Shepherd King – for me, and for you, today and every day.
The metaphor of God as the Shepherd King is used widely in the Old Testament and it is a title that Jesus used to describe His ministry in the New Testament. The Good Shepherd, as opposed to any corrupt leader, is the one who cares, who guides, provides, and protects His flock.
The LORD Is My Shepherd I Lack Nothing
These words are a declaration of faith – reminding us of our relationship with the LORD and all that He is to us! As we consider the nature of our relationship with the LORD, and His love for us, we have the assurance to say that we lack nothing. We trust in God to prove all that we need.
The Hebrew word here for ‘shepherd’ is ra’ah which is also used for a close companion, or a best friend.
Prayer of Faith – Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You are my Shepherd, and as I follow You, I can face the future with confidence knowing Your loving care. Amen.
When we follow the Lord Jesus, He promises that He will take the weight of our worries and cares. The promise is not that we will have a life of ease and plenty but that we will have a sense of inner peace and security. Our spiritual and emotional well-being is promised and provided for by the Lord Jesus. In Him, we will have all the strength that we need to live free from fear.
The imagery of animals lying down in ‘green pastures’ represents contentment. They will not lie down to rest unless they feel replete, full of good food, and secure from harm. It is a place of safety and blessing.
What else do the flock need? Simply, life-giving and refreshing water. The green pasture with access to still or quiet waters brings a complete picture of everything that the shepherd could possibly provide for his flock to live in abundance.
He Makes Me Lie Down in Green Pastures
The Lord Jesus has made the way for us to know true contentment, regardless of our circumstances. Our inner peace and sense of well-being come from being reconciled with God. Everything changes when Jesus is the Shepherd of our life, He promises rest for our souls.
He Leads Me Beside Quiet Waters, He Refreshes My Soul.
Sometimes we need to take time out to rest and be refreshed in the presence of the Lord Jesus. We need to let go of all that we are holding onto and give the weight to the Lord. We can follow Him with freedom, empty-handed!
Do you remember those days as children when you would give your bag, or coat, to your Mum or Dad to carry? So you could skip or run around, free, and unencumbered? You could scramble and climb over obstacles because there was nothing to hold you back! The Lord Jesus offers that freedom, and fullness of life to us.
Prayer of Abundance – Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You came that I might know life in all its fullness. Help me to let go of those things that I am carrying, and give them to You, so that I might live in freedom, knowing true contentment and rest. Amen.
In this verse the psalmist recognizes that the leading or the guidance of the shepherd is essential to staying on the right path. Just reflect on these words for a moment, God guides, He leads, and we are to follow….
Do you find it difficult to make decisions? Do you worry about missing God’s best plan for your life? Then that is something of a snare and an anxiety trap. If we are sincere in following the Lord Jesus then we will be on the right path – led and guided by Him. Even if we do take a wrong turn, then the Lord Jesus who is with us, can gently guide us back onto the right track.
Jesus leads the way and we follow the path that He has marked out. The right path is the righteous path, where we seek to conform to God’s moral standard. The call is to keep following Jesus, in obedience to Him, because of the love that He has shown for us.
Related Post: What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?
He Leads Me in The Paths of Righteousness
The psalmist recognizes that God leads us clearly on the path where we are safe, secure, and blessed. The blessing that we receive from God reflects honor to His name. It is for the sake of His name as the reflection of His character, that God leads us on the right path. God’s righteousness, justice, faithfulness, and love define His goodness and His guiding.
Prayer for Guidance – Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You are the Good Shepherd guide. Help me to know Your voice, the whisper of the Holy Spirit, and to be willing to follow after You, wholeheartedly. Amen.
On our journey through the words of Psalm 23, we now come to a change of scenery. We move from the abundant pasture into the shadows of the valley. But don’t forget our Shepherd guide is close and He is leading us through.
We may feel hemmed in, and that in the darkness the way forward is not clear. This can be any fearful experience, even the ‘shadow of death.’ Sometimes illness, financial difficulties, relationship problems, or grief, can feel overwhelming. But the psalmist proclaims that even through the darkest of times we need not be fearful, because God is right there with us.
And often we need that reminder, feeling fearful in response to any threat is a normal emotional response. Overcoming Fear with Faith, is possible. It is not to deny our feelings but to acknowledge them and bring them to God, placing our trust in Him.
What Does Though I Walk Through the Valley of The Shadow of Death Mean?
The valley of the shadow of death may literally be a place where our life is under threat. But it can also be any other problem that threatens our spiritual, emotional, or physical health.
This is the place, more than any other, to keep on walking. The time to press on, to take the next step, and keep moving through! If we lie down, nothing will change. This is not the time to give up – no matter how weary we feel.
For shepherds, the rod and staff were the tools of their trade and identified who they were. The rod was a symbol of authority, used to count, guide, rescue, and even protect the sheep. The staff was the shepherd’s own support through arduous and difficult terrain.
Our Shepherd guide is leading us through. Jesus has done all that is needed, He is victorious, and this is our reassurance and comfort. Our Shepherd has the authority and the strength for this part of the journey even when we do not. Our hope and comfort are found in Him.
Prayer of Hope and Comfort – Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the powerful truth of Your word that I never walk alone, that You are always with me, and You are all that I need. Amen.
The symbolism here is of our Shepherd-King laying out a banquet, and inviting us to a feast, regardless of the difficulties that may be surrounding us. We are the honored guest, anointed and blessed by the King.
What a picture this portrays, that when life seems tough God is preparing a blessing for us in the ‘presence of our enemies.’ He is preparing a table before us – all that we need is there. God is bringing out and placing in front of us an abundance of good things.
You Prepare a Table Before Me in The Presence of My Enemies Meaning
There is such encouragement here that God wants us to be refreshed and strengthened in the middle of hard and hostile times. When we feel that the problems are mounting, that we are being oppressed from every direction, we can still look for, and find, the goodness of God!
God is willing to bless us all the time. When we are comfortable, it may be easier to see God’s goodness. The shadows in the valley experience may make it harder to see God’s provision and blessing. But we can hold on to this promise, that He is working for our good to revive and strengthen us.
Prayer of Provision and Protection – Thank You, Lord Jesus, that we have the promise of Your protection and provision through all of life’s experiences. Help me to trust that You are preparing a blessing, all that I need, and more. Amen.
This psalm finishes, as it had begun, with a confident declaration of faith. There is no doubt here, but a sure certainty of the goodness of God. The word here for ‘follow’ means literally to pursue and creates this image of God’s love chasing after us. He is intentional – God seeks us out to reveal and demonstrate His love for us.
The psalmist’s response, and surely the response of our hearts, in knowing the goodness of God is the desire to be close to Him. This is referring to the present, and our longing to be more aware of God’s presence with us in daily life.
For king David, this would have been, specifically in the Temple the place of God’s manifest presence. David longed to ‘dwell’ to spend time, and linger, in the presence of God now. One day we will be with God forever.
Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me Meaning.
When we develop a heart of gratitude, we begin to see more and more of God’s faithful love and kindness. His mercy accompanies us all of the time, in the ‘green pasture’ and in the ‘darkest valley’.
Have you ever ‘lost’ something in your home? Your phone or your car keys? They are not where you think they will be, where you expect to find them. Of course they are not really lost, you just can’t see where they are! Then you must search and look around purposefully seeking that particular item!
Sometimes in the shadow of trials and difficulties it is easy to lose sight of the goodness of God. But if we practice gratitude and consciously start looking, we find more than we expected! Coming to God in prayer with thanksgiving, opens the door into His presence, and His presence changes everything. The more thankfulness we develop, the more we have to be thankful for!
The more thankfulness we develop, the more we have to be thankful for!Tweet
Prayer of Faithfulness – Thank you, Father God, that Your goodness and love are pursuing me, all of the time. I pray that they will wash over me now and fill me with a fresh knowledge and awareness of Your love and faithfulness. Amen.