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The Lord Is My Shepherd

Psalm 23 is the most popular psalm in the scriptures and is frequently read at state occasions and at funerals, the most notable recent example being the funeral of Whitney Houston (1963-2012). This page features the traditional words to "The Lord is My Shepherd" (from the King James Bible), together with a short commentary on this famous psalm, and a brief look at the meaning of this beautiful prayer of David.

The Lord Is My Shepherd
(psalm 23 - KJV)

(1) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
(3) He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
(6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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Psalm 23 Prayer

A beautiful reading of "The Lord is my Shepherd" with inspiring images from creation and uplifting music:-

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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

Albert Pike

Psalm 23 Commentary

It's possible to compare the work of a Shepherd with that of the character of God as revealed in the scriptures:-

In verse one, the animals lack nothing ("I shall not want"). God promises elsewhere in the bible always to provide for His people. For example, Genesis 22:14 (NIV):-

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”"

Indeed, David's testimony is that of experiencing a God who provides an overflowing cup (verse 5). This has parallels with the New Testament, where Jesus speaks of what will happen to those who give to others:-

"good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you." (Luke 6:38 WEB)

Just as a shepherd leads his sheep to rest and refreshment (psalm 23:2), so Christ invites His people to come to Him, and rest on Him (see Matthew 11:28).

God also promises always to be with us - this is a recurring theme of the psalm (see verse 4 "I will fear no evil: for thou art with me" and verse 6 "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever"). It is also a recurring theme of the scriptures. For example, Jesus in Matthew 28 verse 20 (NLT) states:-

"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And Christ also promises His followers with an eternal home (John 14:2). The Old Testament has many examples of the Lord reassuring His people that He is with them. When Isaac goes to Beersheba, the Lord appears to him in the night and says:-

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you" (Genesis 26:24, NIV)

In John Chapter 10, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd, one who lays down His life for his sheep. He is their protector (John 10:12), just as David's testimony is one of God's rod and staff that comfort him through dark times (Psalm 23:4).

The Lord is my Shepherd Print

click to enlarge to meditate on this modern version of Psalm 23
The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23) Printable Poster

The meaning of "The Lord Is My Shepherd"

"The Lord Is My Shepherd" is the 23rd psalm from the book of psalms in the Old Testament. It is a prayer commonly attributed to King David. Here, David draws on his experiences of youth as a shepherd boy (1 Samuel 17) to liken the care of an eternal God with that of a shepherd that tends to his sheep.

Psalm 23

A creative reading of this famous psalm followed by an uplifting song based on themes within the psalm:-