“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
In 2013, a couple of years after my rebirth in Christ, I finally understood this Psalm.
Psalm 23 is one of the more famous Psalms, quoted in movies, quoted even by the secular world. The main line remembered and grasped onto is “though I walk though the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”. Why? Because it is the only part of the Psalm which references something which is possibly human empowering, but is it? Only if you cherry pick the the line out of the context of which many love to do. “For You are with me” is the line most often forgotten and left out.
The Psalm speaks of the POWER of God, not the power of human beings. David starts the Psalm is with “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”. He knows he doesn’t need anything with other than God’s grace, so he doesn’t need to want. Then he goes on to state the power of God. “He makes me”, “He leads me”, “For His name sake”, “For You are with me”, “Your rod and Your staff”, “You anoint”…these are all things speaking of God’s action, not the sinner’s actions.
The Psalm ends with “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. A glorious summation based on all the things God is doing in his life as mentioned.
I will admit, before my eyes were opened by God when I read this Psalm I read myself into it. That I was self empowering, that I was good. As David mentioned the “goodness” and “mercy” are not his, but God’s!
This is a surrender Psalm. When you have surrendered your rotten will to God, you see Him for who He is and how He is sovereign over everything in your life. Without this action, with His mercy and goodness, you will not dwell in His house forever, but in your sins forever away from Him. There is NO self-empowerment in this Psalm. Walking in the valley of death and fearing no evil can only be accomplished IF God is with you, remember this! And He is only with you IF indeed He has restored your soul, He has made you surrender, He is leading you, and you realize who He is, the Almighty God. You understand His power, you understand that with you nothing is possible, with Him everything IS possible!