In preschool I memorized it and the words of the twenty third Psalm have always been
a cloak of comfort when I need familiarity. The words meet one where they are at, guiding,
motivating, calming, and bringing a surrounding peace. Even after reading the six verses only
once, the trials and tribulations one faces in life seem to disappear and float away as the peace of
the Lord enters into one’s heart. Though Psalm 23 is popular and may be interpreted differently
by many people, David authored the Psalm and to readers, it seems almost like a journal entry.
He was praising our Father, while also reflecting on his life.
The opening verses, one through four, create an image of the Lord being a shepherd to
those who are lost. They speak of those lost, wandering and trying to find their way, being
guided by Him and by His hand, rod, and staff. Verse two states “he leads me beside quiet
waters.” This phrase and the ones following give beautiful imagery and bring his promises to
life, as one can picture themselves submitting their ways and plans to the Lord, in that they may
honor Him and follow His plan for their lives.
The last two verses again create an image, but a less peaceful and serene one. This image
is of a table, a table in front of enemies. In front of persecutors and those who strive to ruin the
name of the Lord. They strive to obtain His power. The enemies seek and plot to destroy and kill,
and rather than ignoring this threat, David acknowledges it and claims that in the presence of
these enemies, the Lord will anoint the heads of His people until “their cup overflows.” The
Psalm ends saying, “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.” Here, David is speaking to the Lord in confidence.
He knows based on God's previous promises and because of how He cares for His followers, that in eternity, there will be a place prepared for his weary human body when it dies. He knows that though enemies will arise, goodness and love will ensue and accompany him throughout the rest of his life.
In conclusion, Psalm 23 is one of peace. The imagery included adds a personal affect as it
means something different to every person who reads the words. From the picture of having a
shepherd who would die on one’s behalf, to lying in a green pasture without interruption, to
walking alongside our Savior along the shore of placid water, to fearing no evil even in the
darkest time or place. To being upheld by a rod and staff made of strong, reliable wood, to taking
a seat in the presence of enemies, to having our heads anointed with the oil of the Lord, Psalm 23
gives all Christians images of peace and protection. No matter how dark the world is or becomes,
we have the Lord and his promises of eternity to fall back on. Though Psalm 23, is only six
verses long and is known as one of the most iconic passages in the Bible, looking deeper into its
words and allowing them to sink in, is a powerful exercise. Read the words but then fathom
them. Imagine them. Let the heal and feel the power of his presence.
Amaya Leiby (15) is on staff with CLM/TPS Chapel and a student at The Potter's School.