R/LADIES Week 11: Psalm 23

May 17, 2022  |  Diana Taggart

Suggested Listen: Poor Bishop Hooper, Psalm 23

Read Psalm 23 in its entirety.

Take a few deep breaths, then read it again slowly. Write down any words, phrases, or verses that stand out. Note any that stir up emotions or memories.

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.


2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
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 your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Take a moment to ponder and reflect on what stands out as you read. 

  • Do you have any emotional responses? 
  • What is the knee-jerk reaction to these words?
  • What portion of the text grips your eyes? Where do they pause?

Now, let’s walk through this together.


Psalm 23 might be one of the most recognized psalms in the Bible. In just six verses, David expresses a song of confidence in the Lord’s care for him — and ultimately for you and I. 

This psalm reminds us that the God of the universe, in all His glory and wonders, and the bigness, is still a God that’s personal and intimate. He tends to us individually. This shepherd metaphor, and later painting the picture of God as a host, helps us see God in this way so beautifully. 

I pray as we read through it, it’s a comforting and refreshing anthem we can recite when our lives throw us into valleys of chaos and grief.

Vs 1-2

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

This is such a direct statement of not just an opinion, but a fact. “The Lord is…” As David writes, God is indeed His caring, trustworthy, and constant guide and provider. This kind of character of God helps us to abound in grace and sufficient care. We shall no longer want or need the worldly things that before gave us comfort or security. The Lord is our shepherd.

In verse 2, he leans into this analogy even more with imagery of green pastures and still waters. Both the grass and water are nourishing to us as sheep. They are places of rest and restoration. 

Can you recall a time where the Lord led you to peace and rest? Maybe after a season of strife, or just simply because He is good to lead us and offer us rest? How do you sense God leading you in this current season? Can you feel His care and covering over you?

Vs 3-4

3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

This middle section of verses are no doubt the most powerful. In verse 3, David states that God “restores” his soul, and leads him to paths of righteousness. There have been many days and weeks recently where my soul has been feeling dry, distant, and in need of grace. Verses like this remind me of how faithful God is to continue working in us through sanctification and the restoration of our souls.

Verse 4 reminds me so much of Isaiah 41:10, a verse that over the years has become a life-source and strong command from God to not fear, because He will help us. Though we walk through seasons stained and eclipsed by the shadow of death, grief, and all of the other things that our fallen world contains — God is with us, and we do not have to fear.

Life in the past few weeks has felt like a valley. A valley of doubt, questioning is God actually protects us, and why we’re sometimes allowed to be targets of the Devil’s schemes. Even now as I re-read these words, and feel the sting of those doubtful thoughts I’m prone to, I am so thankful. There is grace upon grace in the fact that God is with you, His rod and staff that comforts us. As our shepherd, His guidance through these valleys in our lives are always forward-moving. We’re moving through them, not just staying and wandering in them. And as the earlier verses state, He will again lead us back to green pastures and still waters for rest.

Vs 5-6

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

This is where David switches his characterization of God to the likeness of a host. God provides a covering for us, a table with an overflowing cup, an anointing with oil, and a prepared table. At first read, it can seem confusing that this table is in the presence of enemies. But as a blog post from the Spurgeon center writes, this can mean that even when we are surrounded by opposition, God is still faithful to provide for us.

The final verse in Psalm 23 punctuates this analogy with a confident statement that God’s goodness and mercy will follow us, and that we shall dwell in God’s house forever. Forever. Not just one time, or sometimes, but forever if we have been saved by Jesus. How assuring is that? That even through the fears, the valleys, the doubts, God desires to prepare us a table, and will have us dwell with Him forever. It’s hard to comprehend. But I pray that as we sit and read and contemplate these powerful verses, that God’s mercy and goodness will follow us.

Lord, you are our Shepherd. Thank you for your constant care, awareness of us, our needs, and your mercy for us. Thank you for guiding us through the valleys of our lives with safety and comfort. Lord, we are undeserving of your kindness, help us to cling to your Word, your cross, and seek you first when life’s valleys cause us to doubt and question. May your Spirit be at work in us, restoring our souls for your name’s sake, and offering us the peace to rest in You. Amen.