Pictures in Psalm 23

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I shared this psalm in a song with our church 2nd service on Sunday. Psalm 23 is the most famous of all psalms. I remember in a class on Preaching the Psalms conducted by DA Carson several years ago, where he mentioned that famous passages in the bible are among the most difficult to preach. I agree with him. When lessons or passages in the bible become so much quoted, we gloss over them without much thought. (Another of such is Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.)

Psalm 23 is a beautiful and rich metaphorical metrical hymn. It would certainly be a shame if we treat the pictures hurriedly, not dealing with them properly as we should. I usually read it almost literally, picturing myself in green pastures, beside still waters, having his rod and his staff with me in times of trouble, but the psalm can and should be more than that.

David was himself a shepherd in his early days. When he wrote this psalm, he would have remembered the care he extended to his flock and imagined God doing the same. I think it would be a good idea to do this together. What do you see in these picture words?

  • Shepherd
  • Green pastures
  • Still waters
  • Valley of shadow of death
  • His rod and staff
  • A prepared table
  • An overflowing cup

  • Maeghan
    Picture by Cerys Robinson

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    4 comment(s)

    1. Hi Meaghan,

      This link shows a great Faith lesson about Psalm 23 which gives insight in to what David must have experienced as a shepherd:
      Read this if you can, it's awesome!

    2. Meaghan,

      Okay I'm in:

      Shepherd -> I see a common picture (at least here in the USA) of Jesus holding a little lamb.

      Green pastures -> Ireland. That was all we saw when we went there. It was beautiful and peaceful.

      Still waters -> There is a lake near our house that if full of life, but still has few waves. It is also very peaceful and beautiful.

      Valley of shadow of death -> That point in life when you need someone to save you. In comic books, it is the point where it looks like the villian was going to win.

      His rod and staff -> Moses... more specifically: Charleton

      A prepared table -> Passover. Again Chaz comes to mind.

      An overflowing cup -> Paper towels. When I was a kid, I always got in trouble when my cup
      'overflowed'.... sorry but that is what comes to mind.

      God Bless

    3. Thanks Julia, it's good. Simple truth but truth nonetheless.