The 23rd Psalm Explained

There was once a Shakespearean actor who was known everywhere for his one-man shows of readings and recitations from the classics. He would always end his performance with a dramatic reading of Psalm 23.

Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation -"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" - the crowd would listen attentively. And then, at the conclusion of the Psalm, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the actor's incredible ability to bring the verse to life.

But one night, just before the actor was to offer his customary recital of Psalm 23, a young man from the audience spoke up. "Sir, do you mind if tonight I recite Psalm 23?" The actor was quite taken back by this unusual request, but he allowed the young man to come forward and stand front and center on the stage to recite the Psalm, knowing that the ability of this unskilled youth would be no match for his own talent.

With a soft voice, the young man began to recite the words of the Psalm. When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The audience had been so moved by the young man's recitation that every eye was full of tears. Amazed by what he had heard, the actor said to the youth, "I don't understand. I have been performing Psalm 23 for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training - but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?"

The young man quietly replied, "Well sir, you know the Psalm . . . I know the Shepherd."

It's not enough to just know the content of the Bible - its stories, its sayings, and its teachings. Unless you know the Author, the Bible is nothing more than just another book. But when you put your faith in Jesus Christ and have entered into a personal relationship with God the Father, the Bible truly becomes "living and active - sharper than any double-edged sword."

The Lord is my Shepherd
(That's Relationship!)

I shall not want
(That's Supply!)

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
(That's Rest!)

He leadeth me beside the still waters
(That's Refreshment!)

He restoreth my soul
(That' s Healing!)

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
(That's Guidance!)

For His name sake
(That's Purpose!)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
(That's Testing!)

I will fear no evil
(That' s Protection!)

For Thou art with me
(That's Faithfulness!)

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me
(That's Discipline!)

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
(That's Hope!)

Thou annointest my head with oil
(That's Consecration!)

My cup runneth over
(That's Abundance!)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
(That's Blessings!)

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
(That's Security!)

Forever
(That's Eternity!)

These words tell us of the Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. They paint for us the picture of green pastures and still waters. They describe for us rough, rugged paths of righteousness that must be endured. They unroll before us the picture of the valley of the shadow, and before we have followed this psalmist to the end of the psalm, we are rejoicing that the valley of the shadow becomes an avenue to God and to His home. And ultimately, our home.

© Vince Dellaposta

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