Add parallel Print Page Options

The Good Shepherd

23 David’s poetic praise to God[a]
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.[b]
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.[c]
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.[d]
That’s where he restores and revives my life.[e]
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness[f]
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.[g]
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[h]
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!


  1. Psalm 23:1 Most scholars conclude that Ps. 23 was written by David when he was a young shepherd serving his father, Jesse, while he was keeping watch over sheep near Bethlehem. He was most likely sixteen or seventeen years old. The other psalm that he wrote when but a young lad was Ps. 19. Those are two good psalms to memorize and meditate upon if you want to have the heart of the giant killer.
  2. Psalm 23:1 The word most commonly used for “shepherd” is taken from the root word ra‘ah, which is also the Hebrew word for “best friend.” This translation includes both meanings.
  3. Psalm 23:2 The Greek word for “love” is agape, which is a merging of two words and two concepts. Ago means “to lead like a shepherd,” and pao is a verb that means “to rest.” Love is our Shepherd leading us to the place of true rest in his heart.
  4. Psalm 23:2 The Hebrew word menuhâ means “the waters of a resting place.” See Isa. 11:10.
  5. Psalm 23:3 Or “He causes my life [or soul, Heb. nephesh] to return.” So often life drains out of us through our many activities, but David found that God restores our well-being by pursuing what pleases God and resting in him.
  6. Psalm 23:3 Or “circular paths of righteousness.” It is a common trait for sheep on the hillsides of Israel to circle their way up higher. They eventually form a path that keeps leading them higher. This is what David is referring to here. Each step we take following our Shepherd will lead us higher, even though it may seem we are going in circles.
  7. Psalm 23:4 Or “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
  8. Psalm 23:5 The word oil becomes a symbol of the Holy Spirit.