Of all the psalms we can come across throughout our reading of the Scriptures, there are probably none more beloved than Psalm 23. It is revered and honored by both Jews and Christians, not including the ability we all have to identify at least 35 people that have it cross-stitched and put on their wall. It is one of hope, safety, guidance, and ultimately comfort. Many have it memorized and can recite it at will, prompting inclusion in several works of literature, plays, and various forms of modern media.
For the Jews, it is sung at the third Shabbat meal on Saturday afternoons, and also during the Yizkor service. Funerals that are held during Jewish holidays include the recitation of this psalm, instead of the traditional prayer. Christian funerals include it as well, and some orthodox Christian groups place it in preparation for receiving the Eucharist. Some of us living today may remember the night of September 11, where President George W. Bush included this in his address to the nation.
Long attributed to David, this psalm describes God as a shepherd, where Jesus also describes Himself as “The Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14). David would have also been very familiar with this occupation as well, having tended the herds of that his family owned (1 Sam. 16). Sheep have no fear of outside forces, knowing only the food they are eating and the voice of their shepherd. It is this voice that guides them back to their fold, or back to the barn for safekeeping. It is this voice that warns them of danger looming, and protects them against death. Along the same line of thinking, it is God’s voice that says to us, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6, 8; Josh. 1:5; Hebrews 13:5).
The feeling often arises that we know what is best for us; that no one can tell us what to do better than we can. While we may be able to make small, short-term decisions, none of us have the power to know everything that is going on and have the power to change it all. Yet, we do have an all-knowing and all-powerful Father that loves us and will guide us. It is in Him we put our trust; it is in Him that we are protected; and it is in Him we will be saved.Last modified: February 13, 2019