Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd
This wonderful psalm is not so much about the Lord's caring for us as it is about His leading us. His care comes with His leading.
I chose this tune because I wanted a tune from a song about the Lord's leading. At the time I did not know that "He leadeth me" was inspired by Psalm 23. Here is the story of how that hymn was written:
Joseph Gilmore was born in Boston, Mass in 1834. He served as pastor of several churches in the East and later taught Hebrew and English literature at Newton Seminary and Rochester University and wrote several college texts on these subjects. Although Gilmore was highly respected in his day in both religious and educational circles, today he is best remembered for this one hymn, hurriedly written when he was just 28 years of age.
"I had been speaking at the Wednesday evening service of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia about the truths of the 23rd Psalm, and had been especially impressed with the blessedness of being led by God Himself. At the close of the service we adjourned to Deacon Watson's pleasant home where we were being entertained. During our conversation the wonder and blessedness of God's leading so grew upon me that I took out my pencil, wrote the text just as it stands today, handed it to my wife, and thought no more of it."
"Without my husband's knowledge, I sent the quickly written text to the 'Watchman and Reflector Magazine', where it first appeared the following year. You can imagine my husband's surprise when he discovered his own hymn text already in print."
"3 years later I went to Rochester, New York, to preach as a candidate for the 2nd Baptist Church. Upon entering the chapel I took up a hymnal thinking, 'I wonder what they sing here.' To my amazement the book opened at 'He Leadeth Me', and that was the 1st time I knew that my words had found a place among the songs of the church."
William Bradbury discovered Joseph Gilmore's text in the 'Watchman and Reflector Magazine' and composed a fitting melody to match the words. Bradbury also added the last 2 lines of the refrain:
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
When the 1st Baptist Church building of Philadelphia was demolished in 1926, it was replaced at the busy Broad and Arch intersection by a large new office building with a prominent bronze tablet containing the words for the 1st stanza of "He Leadeth Me." The inscription stated:
"This is in recognition of the beauty and fame of the beloved hymn, and in remembrance of its distinguished author."
Perhaps more than any other of our time, this hymn has been translated into many different languages. It is often one of the 1st hymns that missionaries translate into a native tongue. Servicemen during World War II were greatly surprised to find "He Leadeth Me" widely sung by the primitive Polynesians in the South Pacific. Like the 23rd Psalm on which it is based, the hymn meets a very basic and universal need in the lives of God's children everywhere - assurance of the Lord's guidance for every decision and crisis in life. - '52 Hymn Stories Dramatized' by Kenneth W. Osbeck
The Lord leads me upon restful waters. Even if I have lots of troubles, the Lord's leading makes it into restful waters (Matt 8:23-27; etc
- This is my favorite verse in the psalm.
- "In the presence of my enemies" could modify either the preceding "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" or the following "In the presence of my enemies You anoint my head with oil." I do not like to eat in the presence of my enemies, and I don't know of any time that happened in the Bible, and Proverbs says that is bad (Prov 15:17
). But I do like for my head to be annointed with oil in the presence of my enemies (Matt 21:6; etc
The Hebrew word here for "anoints" does not actually mean anoints, but "makes fat" (Pr 11:25; etc
). This does not refer to Samuel anointing David as king, but to the Spirit making David's head wise and rich in thought, I think, especially to write the psalms.
- "Surely, goodness and mercy shall pursue me" is also a result of His leading me (Deut 28:2
"all days" (Ps 27:4; etc
) - Every day we experience the Lord's goodness and His mercy. Not a day goes by without them! If we had a day without the Lord's goodness and mercy, that would be a terrible wasted day.
His leading is personal, but leads me to daily stop what I am doing and rest in the Lord's house, which is corporate.
The last part of the verse says literally, "for the length of days." Some (NRSV, HCSB) translate it to mean "as long as I live". This would be the case if it said "the length of my
days", but there is no "my". It is just the length of days, which is as long as there are days, which is forever of days (Deu 30:20, etc
). Because of what the Messiah accomplished in Psalm 22
, I will rest forever daily in the Lord's house!
The Hebrew word vshabvti
could be translated "and I will rest" from the root shabat
, or "and my dwelling" from the root yashav
. If we take it to mean, "and my dwelling", it means that good and mercy following me every day also results in me dwelling in the Lord's house all days. David said he sought this one thing in Ps 27:4
, where the same Hebrew word is used.
The word also can mean "and I will rest". The objection to this translation is that the Hebrew verb shabat means to cease or to stop. It does not make sense to stop forever. That is true, but the sentence doesn't have to mean to stop forever. It means to stop and rest for some time each day in the Lord's house for as long as there are days.
-copyright Steve Miller 2010
Psalm 23 a psalm through David
1 LORD's my Shepherd; no lack have I.
In green pastures He makes me lie.
On restful waters He leads me.
He restores my soul bountif'ly
He leadeth me in paths righteous
for His name's sake. 4
E'en though in death's
shadow I walk through the valley,
I fear no ill for You're with me.
Your rod and staff, they comfort me.
You prepare table before me.
In presence of foes of my soul,
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup You fill to overflow.
Good and mercy shall me follow
surely in my life every day,
and I'll rest in Lord's house all days.
Ge 33:14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
2Ch 28:15 And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.
Isa 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
51:18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.
And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed
them with bread for all their cattle for that year.
Isa 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
Ge 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my masterís brethren.
48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my masterís brotherís daughter unto his son.
1Sa 22:4 And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.
1Ki 10:26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.
2Ki 18:11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:
Ex 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
Ne 9:12 Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.
19 Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go.
Ps 43:3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
77:20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
78:14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
Pr 6:22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
11:3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
Matt 21:16 And they said to Him, Do you hear what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, Yes. Have you never read, ``Out of the mouth of infants and sucklings You have perfected praise''?
Ps 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
Lk 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts not to take thought beforehand how to reply in defense, 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all those opposing you will not be able to resist or refute.
Jere 1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I [am] a child. 7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I [am] a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I [am] with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
Pr 11:25 (AV) The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
13:4 (AV) The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
15:30 (AV) The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
28:25 (AV) He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may rest in the house of the LORD all the days of my life
, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
128:4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. 5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
Eccl 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.
9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
Deu 4:9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sonsí sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
6:2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy sonís son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
12:1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
31:13 And their sons who have not known shall hear, and shall learn to fear the Lord thy God all the days that they live upon the land, into which ye go over Jordan to inherit it.
Gen 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Josh 1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
4:14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.
1 Sam 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
7:15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
1 Kg 4:21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
8:40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
2 Chr 6:31 that they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, all the days that they live upon the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
1 Kg 11:34 Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servantís sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes:
15:5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
6 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.
2 Kg 25:29 And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
30 And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
Jer 52:33 And changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life.
34 And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.
Pr 31:12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Isa 38:20 Jehovah was purposed to save me. óAnd we will play upon my stringed instruments all the days of our life, in the house of Jehovah.
Heb 4:3 For we who have believed enter into the rest, even as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest!'' although the works of creation were completed from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken somewhere concerning the seventh day thus, ``And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.'' 5 And in this place again, ``They shall not enter into My rest!'' 6 Since therefore it remains that some should enter into it and those who formerly had the good news announced to them did not enter because of disobedience, 7 He again designates a certain day, today, saying in David after so long a time, even as He has said before, ``Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'' 8 For if Joshua had brought them into rest, He would not have spoken concerning another day after these things. 9 So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered into His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His own. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter into that rest lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.
Ps 95:11 (AV) Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
Mt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Num 10:33 (AV) And they departed from the mount of the LORD three daysí journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three daysí journey, to search out a resting place for them.
1 Kg 8:56 (AV) Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
Mk 6:31 (AV) And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
2 Cor 2:13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.
2 Thes 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
Deu 30:20 (AV) That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Ps 21:4 (AV) He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.
93:5 Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thy house, O Jehovah, for length of days.
Pr 3:2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Lamentations 5:20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, dost thou forsake us for length of days?
Ps 22:26 The meek shall eat and find rest.
They will praise the Lord that seek Him.
Your heart shall live fore'er.
Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire of Him in His temple.
Matt 8:22 But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead. 23 And when He stepped into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the boat was covered by the waves; but He was sleeping. 25 And they came near and roused Him, saying, Lord, save us; we are perishing! 26 And He said to them, Why are you cowardly, you of little faith? Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm . 27 And the men marveled, saying, What kind of Man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?
Mark 4:35 And He said to them on that day when evening had fallen, Let us go over to the other side. 36 And leaving the crowd, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a great windstorm, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already beginning to fill up. 38 And He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, Teacher, does it not matter to You that we are perishing? 39 And having awoken, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Be silent! Be still! And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 And He said to them, Why are you cowardly in this way? How is it that you do not have faith? 41 And they became greatly frightened and said to one another, Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
Luke 8:22 And on one of the days He and His disciples got into a boat. And He said to them, Let us go over to the other side of the lake. And they launched out. 23 And while they were sailing, He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down upon the lake, and they began to fill with water and were in danger. 24 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, Master, Master, we are perishing! And being awakened, He rebuked the wind and the surging of the water, and they ceased, and there was a calm . 25 And He said to them, Where is your faith? And they became frightened and marveled, saying to one another, Who then is this, that He orders even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?
Deut 28:2 (AV) And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
Proverbs 15:17 Better is a meal of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred therewith.
-copyright Steve Miller 2010