Psalm 23 - The Good Shepherd: God's Care and Protection
The PS 23 belong to Book I of the Book of PS composed of a collection of texts 150 arranged by 5 poetry books. The Book of Psalms, for its wisdom and basic principles of human action , is considered the heart of the Old Testament. Book I encompasses Psalms 1 to 41 . The PS 23 is divided into six verses.
The Psalms are poems-prayers addressed to God, being the privileged way to address and speak to Him. These prayers represent human experiences and religious conscience . They portray the common man , with his faults, insecurities, fears and hopes and, even today, we can identify with the Psalmist and draw inspiration from these texts to pray and plead with God when we feel lost and anguished or to express our gratitude for some blessing received.
“There are enemies or friends, there is life or death, health or illness, pain or joy and, most of the time, there are no changes or gradations. Words are like stones and poetry like boulders carved by chisel”; “The Psalms are a bit like mountain paths, simple, especially when walking on snow, but they lead to the peaks; they are paths toward the peaks of meeting the Lord.” - Carlo Maria Martini, Cardinal of Milan
Psalm 23 - The Good Shepherd
1 Psalm. From David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing,
2 in green meadows takes me to rest.
lead me to refreshing waters
3 and comfort my soul.
He guides me along the straight paths,
for his name’s sake.
4 Even if I walk in dark valleys,
I fear no harm.
Because You are with me,
your rod and your staff give me courage.
5 You prepare the table for me
in the sight of my enemies.
You perfumed my head with oil,
and my cup was overflowing.
6 Yes, kindness and mercy will accompany me
all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
through the days.
Meaning and interpretation
The Psalm 23 is considered a fine example of an individual psalm of trust in God . To express the care and protection that God bestows on his people, he uses a metaphor that is particularly well suited to the traditional way of life of the Hebrews: pastoralism.
This Psalm conveys an atmosphere of peace , tranquility and confidence . At the same time, it shows that the role of those who lead is to take care of their people and ensure that nothing is lacking. The role of the shepherd is the metaphor that describes the role of kings, whose government is also expressed in the title of shepherd. This was the understanding that was made of the functions of the king among the peoples of the ancient East.
Just as rulers guide, care for and protect their peoples, so God does. By attributing this care equally to God means that if the king does not care enough, God will.
Based on the meanings suggested by the metaphor of the shepherd, the Psalmist describes the most significant personal and social care that the shepherd God provides, namely satisfaction in the face of enemies, happiness and presence in temple celebrations .
The Psalms of Praise are hymns addressed, above all, to God. In this sense, the Bible continues the liturgical literature of neighboring and previous religions, where hymns are the most common way for people to address the divinity , especially in contexts of greater solemnity.
These Psalms were of great importance in the lives of biblical heroes. The preaching of the word of the prophets or the teaching of wisdom reflection appears closely linked to the cultural action of the people of Israel. They express, in a solemn and simple way , the believer’s recognition of the efficacious presence of God who saves his people, for he is mercy that lasts forever; it is a refuge from the dangers of life; it is joy and joy; it is prosperity that feeds its people; it is light in times of darkness and salvation on Earth and in eternal life.
The texts of the Book of Psalms oscillate between shout and praise, supplication and joy. Perhaps its authors understood that Man can only express his supplications, laments or thirst for revenge before God, if he is immersed in the spirit of praise that sings life stronger than death . Perhaps, beyond the scream, the lament or the anger, they realized that what moves these words is nothing but that life force that explodes in praise when it comes out of violence or when it goes through death.
These hymns narrate, thus, the greatness or improvements and the thanks that flow from it. Examples of this are Ps 8; 19; 28; 33; 47; 65-66; 93; 96-100; 104-105; 111; 113; 117; 135; 146; 148-150. Hymns can also be addressed to the king , focusing especially on the ceremony of royal enthronement, with every expectation of divine intervention for the well-being of the people and the just ordering of the world . In this case, the Psalms were performed at court parties, in the presence of the king, in celebrations for victory over enemies, among others. Some examples are Psalm 2; 18; 20; 21; 27; 51; 60; 61.
With the end of the monarchy, these Psalms were accentuating the messianic connotations , which already had implicit. This is the case of Psalm 2; 18; 20-21; 45; 72; 89; 101; 110; 132; 144. The Psalms celebrating Jerusalem, which with the temple have a special connection to God, are also considered hymns. These are Ps 46; 48; 76; 84; 87; 122.
The Book of Psalms
- Book I - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41
- Book II - 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72
- Book III - 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
- Book IV - 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106
- Book V - 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150
The Joy and Happiness of the Righteous in Communion with God
The Psalms are prayer-poems addressed to God, being the privileged way to address and speak with Him. Depicting the common man , with his failures, insecurities, fears and hopes, we can still identify with the Psalmist and be inspired today in Psalms to make prayers and supplications to God in times of trouble or express our gratitude for some blessing received.
The Psalms, despite being written in Antiquity, still move , sensitize , awaken feelings , inspire and enchant . In them, we can identify anguish and joy , deeply human feelings, praises, supplications, teachings of reflection on spiritual wisdom and prophetic words.
Written for different situations , some Psalms are intimate, revealing the author’s personal relationship with God; others provide guidelines and advice for life, others are compositions for specific liturgical events such as rituals and pilgrimages.
The Book of Psalms is composed of a collection of 150 poetic texts and is divided into five parts, called Psalm Books or Booklets. Each Book closes with short hymns of praise to God . The division into five parts was considered to correspond to the five books of Moses and it is assumed that each passage in the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible, called Torah by the Jews) was read in parallel with the corresponding Psalm. Its main forms are lamentation , supplication , praise and gratitude .
- Book I - Psalms 1 to 41
- Book II - Psalms 42 to 72
- Book III - Psalms 73 to 89
- Book IV - Psalms 90 to 106
- Book V - Psalms 107 to 150
The Power of Prayer in Dialogue with the Divine
The Psalms elevate our thoughts to the Divine and prayer is the power of the word . Prayer is the language of faith. Any thought, word or image addressed to God is called prayer . It is through it that we come into contact with our God within and, therefore, it is so powerful in transforming life . Prayer can produce miracles , turn dreams into reality, give us hope for change , harmony and peace with ourselves and the world.
Each Psalm has an intention that helps us meditate and walk with our God . For many theologians, the Book of Psalms has a prophetic or messianic tone as its verses refer to the coming of Christ into the world of men to guide them through the uncertainty and doubts of Human existence.
The prayer has the power to call the Spiritual Universe full mode, honest, sincere, conscious, for the purpose of spiritual self-protection, family protection and those who are dear to us, to have peace of mind, spiritual and physical, for prosperity and success, to protect health and relationships, to ward off negative energies and, above all, to connect us to something bigger than ourselves. From this peace , well-being, hope and goodness in front of everyone and everything result.
The faith can change our lives. It gives us tranquility and spiritual strength to face challenges. It helps us to meditate on our mission in life and to create a balanced and healthy environment for ourselves and those we love. When you pray, fill your heart with love and determination . The Psalms will guide you on a path of peace and communion with the higher energy .
- Psalm 2 - God And His Anointed
- Psalm 3 - Certainty Of Divine Help Against Enemies
- Psalm 4 - Trust In God In Tightening Times
- Psalm 5 - Morning Prayer Against Enemies
- Psalm 6 - Supplication Of A Righteous One In Distress
- Psalm 7 - Prayer Of The Persecuted Righteous
- Psalm 8 - Hymn To The Creator Of Man
- Psalm 9 - God, Protector Of The Lowly
- Psalm 10 - Prayer For The Oppressed, Orphans And The Disadvantaged
- Psalm 11 - Trust Of The Righteous In The Equity Of The Lord
- Psalm 12 - Prayer Against The Wicked Who Despise The Faith
- Psalm 13 - Confident Pleading For God's Protection
- Psalm 14 - The Wicked And The People Of God
- Psalm 15 - In The House Of The Lord And The Moral Precepts
- Psalm 16 - God, Refuge, Life And Safety