Psalm 23 is a most beautiful rendering of gratitude for God’s goodness and consistent care in the poet’s life, as well as humanity as a whole. The most beautiful elements of the 23rd Psalm become the most vividly perceptive when considered from the perspective of praise.
The composer of this poem, David, was a poet and a musician. He was also a loving and responsible, yet humble, shepherd. Anointed to be King of Israel at a time when he was still young and assumed powerless, there were many attempts to take his life for years before he would finally be placed in his designated position.
In the eyes of those who lacked belief in God’s protection and purpose for his life, he was outnumbered. However, David apparently experienced great peace in these times of turmoil. The reason for David’s calmly artistic renderings of contentment and peace while a mad king and his armies hunted him down had everything to do with faith. David had a strong relationship with God and knew that God had a purpose for his life and that God would preserve him until that purpose was fulfilled.
Psalm 23 exemplifies in detail why David trusted in the Lord the way that he did. As we look more deeply into Psalm 23 we see a humble servant, fully trusting in Almighty God to care for him as he also cared for his own family’s flocks of sheep.
When God becomes flesh many years later as Jesus, the same metaphor is used to describe God’s care for us as well. Jesus testified that He is the Good Shepherd that lays down His life for His sheep and takes it up again. (John 10:10-18) The metaphor of God caring for us as a loving Shepherd is reiterated throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. The vivid imagery used to describe how the Good Shepherd cares for His sheep also expresses how the same Shepherd loves us so deeply that He would be willing to die for His flock. To fully believe on these truths can result in the kind of faith that David had in God’s ability and willingness to protect him from any kind of storm.
In the beginning verses of Psalm 23, David from the outset makes it clear whom he belongs to and because he is God’s and God is good; he knows that he will not be left to want. This is indicative of God’s faithfulness. God is so pure, holy and righteous that the iniquitous potentiality of not providing for His own cannot exist.
In addition to God providing just what you need when you need it most, He will also lead you into an environment that is healthy and serene in order to communicate clearly with you. As with Elijah, God frequently speaks to us in the stillness as opposed to the storm. (1 Kings 19:11-13)
This is a restorative process for our very souls. As the world was created by the power of the Word (John 1:1-4), and Jesus healed people by speaking it so, God still reminds us that he is greater that any chaos on earth by speaking restorative words of comfort and peace to our souls.
Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and lead us on the right path. David relied on this blessing as well. Sometimes, we make difficult choices but God will lead us on the right path “for His name’s sake”. (Psalm 23)
So even if we are walking through a valley of death, for sin is death and this world is still in a sinful state, that will not change the fact that God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Just knowing that Jesus is in our hearts, leading us and caring for us so consistently, is the reason that believers have to fear nothing.
Throughout all of this, David was still aware of his anointing by God on his future. He was never concerned about going without because He knew that his enemies could not prevent or deter God’s ultimate purpose for his life. In the presence of his enemies, God provided for a table for David and he expressed this peace joyfully all while praising God for His unwavering love and perfect providence.
This poetic rendering of praise to God ends on a note of confidence that God’s holiness, perfection, love and righteousness will never end. Because God is love and loves us eternally, David is confident that the goodness and mercy of God will always be in his life.
The colorful imagery that is descriptively expressed in green pastures brings the reader to a place where one can envision the peaceful serenity of a natural landscape near water that is reflective and still. Figuratively speaking, we are not really sheep. However, the metaphor is easily understood and frequently embraced as we acknowledge humility before God and dependence on His care.
This particular poetic expression is true to the beauty of the creative art of poetry and psalm writing while foremost expressing praise to God in its most authentic form. The original Psalm 23 was written in Hebrew so there may have been rhymes and other rhythmic particulars that are not being expressed in English. However, the meaning in this case is so substantial and prevalent that this psalm appears to be completely effective in the many languages that it has been translated into. For when the Holy Spirit inspires an expression, it spiritually supersedes any perceived human barriers. In the context of this blessing, we have the 23rd Psalm.