The Lord is my Shepherd.
Dictionary definition of Shepherd: protector, guardian, defender, keeper. The untameable, unstoppable force of the Almighty is my Protector. The creator of the universe is my Guardian. The Master of all lightning and thunder is my Defender. The One who breathed life into creation is my Keeper.
I shall not want.
My every need will be provided by my Shepherd. He knows what I need. He knows what I want. He has not forgotten.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He doesn’t take me to desolate places. He chooses good places for me to rest where I can be nourished and cared for. In my human ignorance, I sometimes choose not to be nourished by the green pastures, but it is His intention that I find rest there. Sometimes I get in the way or am too busy to see that everything I need is right in front of me.
He leads me beside still waters.
He finds the place in the river that is tranquil and safe to drink. Not a raging torrent or a slippery bank, but a place beside the calming flow of quiet water. When I feel the unmistakable pull and confusion of a whirlpool, it is not He who has led me to it. I have wandered from the flock and found danger. If I listen for His voice, it will lead me back to the safety of His care.
He restores my soul.
When my soul is torn and tattered by the wind and rain. When my heart is broken and shattered by mean people or broken dreams. He is able and willing to restore me. He is able to mend my heart and soul to it’s original wholeness by the simple touch of His presence. I am not too damaged. I am not too lost. I am restorable.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
He is proud of me as His child and wants to lead me on paths that bring glory to His name. He guides me on paths that are safe and healthy for me. If I listen closely to Him I can avoid many of the whirlpools and valleys.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me.
At least I’m walking, not crawling, through the valley. Although it’s not under my own power. He is there, right beside me, with His arm around my waist and our hips touching. All my weight is on His shoulder as I limp unevenly from the fatigue of the valley. My body is spent, my strength is failing, my brokenness is obvious. But He supports me from His steady position and carries me on. Whispering encouragement and helping me stay upright to make slow but steady progress. We pass through shadows and I don’t see well in the dark. But I trust His vision, because it’s perfect. Darkness has no power over Him and his vision is the same as on the brightest day. Nothing can hide in the dark from Him, so with my Shepherd on guard, I am safe. Even in the presence of death, I am safe.
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
The rod is a weapon of defense to fight off attacking animals or enemies. One blow can stun or kill a lion. The rod would never be used against me, only to protect me and keep me safe. My Shepherd is able to wield this weapon and dispatch those who come against me. The staff is the Shepherd’s hook, used to correct and guide His sheep. This staff is a gentle and caring way for Him to get my attention if I stray or to gather me into His arms when I am injured. Knowing that my Shepherd has these tools at His disposal helps me relax into His care. He is not unprepared for our journey through the valley. He has brought what He needs to care for me, keep me safe and bring me through it to the other side.
Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Even with those around me who would harm me, I can rest in the knowledge that my God is there. I can relax and eat knowing that He is in control.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
He has chosen me as His. He has marked me as His own. He has applied the salve to my forehead that seals me in His Spirit and heals my every wound.
My cup overflows.
The blessings bestowed on me by my Shepherd are too much to be contained in a vessel. They keep flowing day after day spilling out over the edges of the 24-hour mold and flooding into each other. Each day has new blessings of it’s own, I can rinse my wounds in this healing flood and be refreshed.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
Because I am His, I will always have His goodness and mercy abounding in my life. Because I follow Him, I will always see these identifying characters in my spirit. Because He walks beside me, these companions walk with me also.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
His salvation is mine forever. His sacrifice was for me, no matter what. He has written my name in His Book of Life and no one can erase it. There is no pen that can write over it. There is no eraser that can lift it out. There is no mark that can block it from the page. I am His and He is mine, forever and for always. He will never leave me. He will never change His mind. He will never change who He is. He has always been and will always be my Shepherd.