The Lord Is the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23)

What do you think is the most popular psalm in the whole world? According to leadershipresources.com and biblesummary.com, the most popular psalm is Psalm 23. Even my late grandparents’ favorite psalm was Psalm 23, and I was able to deliver this psalm on their memorial services.

PSALM 23 (HCSB):

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
4 Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
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 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

What’s Psalm 23 all about?

In Israel, as in other ancient cultures, a shepherd’s work was deemed the lowest of all occupations.[1] Yet Yahweh desired to be our shepherd, as David declares. “The great God of the universe has stooped to take just such care of you and me,” as J.M. Boise, a New Testament scholar, has written. [2]


Boise furthered,

“This statement goes with the first half. Left to themselves, sheep lack everything. They are the most helpless animals. But if we belong to the one who is self-sufficient, inexhaustible, and utterly unchanged by time, we will lack nothing. He is sufficient for all things and will provide for us.”

J. M. Boice, Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 208-09.

As the Good Shepherd, what does the Lord do for us?

  1. He provides rest, life, and guidance (2-3).
  2. He protects (4).
  3. He prepares and provides abundantly (5).
  4. His presence is filled with goodness and faithful love (6).

For verse 5, according to Boise, “If we will allow God to lead us where he will, we will find that a table has been prepared for us, our heads have been anointed with purest oil, and our cups have been filled to overflowing with the wine of true joy.”[3}

The house of the LORD in verse 6 could mean the tabernacle because David, the king and psalmist, enjoyed worshiping the Lord in the tabernacle. The house of the LORD can also involve heavenly dwellings.

In the New Testament, Jesus said in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He was actually recalling Psalm 23, and telling his listeners that He is that Good Shepherd. Come to think of it, Jesus, God the Son, did come to earth and was born on a manger, which is the lowest way be born; yet He did it. He even went the extra mile of telling them that He, as the Good Shepherd, would lay down His life for His sheep. He actually did this at the cross when He died to save us from our sins.

Plus, He is not only the Good Shepherd, but He is also the door of the sheep. He said in verses 8-10: “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

Jesus was saying that He is the only way to salvation. Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life.

So if you want to have this kind of life and don’t have it yet, if you want to live in the presence of the Lord forever either here on earth or in heaven, then make Him your Good Shepherd. Go to Him. Confess your sins to Him, and admit that you’re a sinner. Have faith in Him to be the Savior, Lord, and God of your life. Once you put your trust in Him, and make Him your Lord, follow Him wherever He leads you, and obey whatever He tells you to do.




[1] J. M. Boice, Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 207.

[2] Ibid, 208.

[3] Ibid, 212.

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