PSALM 23 – A Powerful Message

Recently, I was praying for a scripture passage which would bring me comfort. I was brought to Psalm 23! As I read, I did a study of its message. After working my way through the entire psalm, I sat for a moment, thinking of how it nourished every crevice of my being. The comfort for which I longed, was discovered in Psalm 23.

About The Author

King David is the author of Psalm 23. As a young boy, David was a shepherd; therefore, we can trust that he knew exactly what he was talking about when he wrote it. This poem begins with a to-the-point statement, utilizing a concept of which we all can easily understand, which is the relationship

between sheep and their shepherd. Throughout the bible, there are many times when the word ‘shepherd’ is used, describing Jesus. King David understood the reality of the sheep and shepherd relationship; and with fluent imagery, David brought his poem to life.

Relationship of Sheep to Shepherd

When we consider the relationship between sheep and their shepherd, we know that sheep blindly turn to the shepherd for guidance, protection, and nourishment (or the assurance thereof). We can see that the very first verse of this psalm brings it all together in a concise, brief statement: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”

Having It All

The rest of Psalm 23 presents all the ways we desire to have ‘it all’. This is not the ‘having it all’ as we may think of through a worldly perspective. This poem is about ‘having it all’ in the areas of knowing we are protected, trusting we are being guided in the right direction, and being unconditionally loved, spiritually fed, and appropriately nurtured in living a good life. 

David spent most of his young years living in the desert, taking care of his sheep. The desert environment leaves much to be desired in regards to protection from sand storms, scorching days under the hot sun, and cold nights under cloudless skies. The desert also lacks of flourishing food and water sources, leaving inhabitants to wander far in order to obtain proper nourishment. Because the desert area spans for miles and miles, there can be a sense of wandering, of being lost; a feeling of despair as the difficult landscape fights to hold us back. There can also be a sense of abandonment, as well as a fear of the unknown.

Yet, David provides us with an image of God as a provider and protector in Psalm 23:2-4:

“In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”

The comfort we can take from this passage is that no matter how deep in the desert we find ourselves, God will lead us to a comfortable and safe place, which is abundant with life-giving nourishment and restoration (symbolized in “green pastures” and “still waters”). In this place, we experience a peace which cannot be given to us through the world; and we are spiritually fed.

The Shepherd Leads

The shepherd leads his sheep through the desert, experiencing rough terrain and steep grades, having to choose a safe passageway to come down a mountain. Therefore, Psalm 23 tells us that God leads us to the path (passageway) we are to take, which is a path of righteousness. It is of utmost importance for the sheep to trust the shepherd; having a blind trust. The path we are lead to may be foreign to us; and therefore, God asks us to trust Him. In general, he is asking for blind trust. In my research, I discovered a video presented by IsraelU which provides some educational points on the topic of Psalm 23. I encourage you to click here to watch it.

In visualizing the rod and staff, held in the shepherd’s mighty hand, we can take comfort in knowing that we do not need to fear physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual suffering (symbolized in “the valley of death” and “evil”); and we do not need to fear temptations from the enemy.

Our Cup Is Overflowing

The last two stances of Psalm 23 tells us that God is a welcoming, hospitable, and a giving provider:

“You set a table before me in front of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days” (Psalm 23:5-6).

Our good shepherd sets a table where we will be abundantly nourished through spiritual food and drink (such as the Word of God, the sacred love of Christ, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.). And, he sets the table “in front of [our] enemies”. We can take great comfort knowing that we have been saved in and through Jesus Christ. In the desert, the heat of the sun can represent the enemy, which strives to torment, tear down, or harrass us; and we can take comfort in the fact that God heals us with an oil (think of a balm in gilead), which provides to us comfort, healing, restoration, and salvation.

Finally, we acknowledge that our cup is overflowing with all that God has given to us, and done for us. David wrote that “goodness and mercy will pursue [us]”. God is this goodness and mercy, and He does pursue us… always. He has blessed us with His undying love, mercy, and grace. 

So, as sheep, we are to trust in God as He leads us through life. I encourage you to keep in mind that the life we live upon the earth includes ups and downs, hills and valleys, and the day and night. Because Adam and Eve made their choices by utilizing their God-given free will, we are not promised a life with no worries, illnesses, despair, etc. However, God did send to us His son, who won for us eternal life. All we need to do is trust and follow our good shepherd, Jesus Christ!

May God shine His light, love, mercy, grace, and peace upon you!

When we can’t pray, Holy Spirit within us can!

Over the years, I have heard people say things like: “I don’t know how to pray”; “My prayers aren’t heard”; “I don’t pray for myself”; “Praying doesn’t work for me”; and even “Only the holy gets answered prayers”.

My heart hurts for every person who struggles with prayer. I, too, have experienced times of dryness. Either I didn’t know how to pray or what to pray for. I have had feelings of inadequateness. I have felt unworthy, too sinful, not good enough, or even not holy enough. These moments are sad; they can leave us feeling hollow; they can be crushing to our spirit.


Yet, there is HOPE! When we experience feelings of inadequacy, or simply have no inspiration nor drive to pray, we can ask Holy Spirit to intercede. Scripture says that when you do not know how to pray, turn to Holy Spirit; who will intercede for you. It is truly that simple; yet, many of us still struggle with prayer. Once we are aware of the fact that God will not abandon us, and that He has provided provision to us through Holy Spirit, we are able to hold onto His promises with great HOPE.

What is prayer? Prayer is simply defined as communication with God. We can think of it as a child turning to a specific adult (parent, grandparent, mentor, etc.), asking for assistance, a gift, guidance, or protection. The more a child interacts with this specific adult in their life, the more comfortable they become. The child will learn that it is safe to turn to this adult. The child will come to unquestionably know that the adult has the child’s best interest in their heart. And, the child will come to appreciate the adult; showing their appreciation with praise, words of gratitude, words expressing adoration, and telling others about the goodness of their specific adult. And finally, the child desires time alone with the specific adult, being silent and listening to what the adult desires to tell the child.

And now, let’s replace the words ‘specific adult’ or ‘adult’ with ‘God’; and the words ‘the child’ or ‘child’ with ‘I’, ‘my’, or ‘me’, as appropriate. This last paragraph now reads this truth about prayer (aka communication):

I turn to God, asking for assistance, a gift, guidance, or protection. The more I interact with God {in prayer}, the more comfortable I become. I will learn that it is safe to turn to God. I will come to unquestionably know that God has my best interest in His heart. And, I will come to appreciate God; showing my appreciation with praise, words of gratitude, words expressing adoration, and telling others about the goodness of God. And, finally, I desire time alone with God, being silent and listening to what God desires to tell me.

This is prayer. Time spent communicating with God: asking for assistance, guidance, and protection; becoming comfortable in our relationship with Him; feeling safe within His care; knowing He has me in His heart; appreciating Him through praise, adoration, and sharing with others His goodness; and seeking quiet time to simply be present to God so that He can respond to us, guide us, and comfort us.

Sometimes we still need Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf; and he does it willingly! Let’s look at Romans 8.1 Paul is speaking to the “Christian church in Rome”.2 In the first half of Romans 8, Paul is encouraging the Christians by telling them that although their bodies are made of flesh, they themselves are IN the Spirit. That is to say, we “are not in the flesh but {we are} in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in” (v9)1 us. And, because the Spirit dwells within each one of us, as Christians, we are not to fear. In the times we are week, unsure, tired, fretting, and such, we have been provided an advocate, namely, Holy Spirit. As we move down past mid-chapter of Romans 8, we are encouraged with Paul’s message that “the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us” v26.1 As we turn to the Spirit, simply invite him to be present to you. Pray something like: “Come, Holy Spirit, Come”, or “Holy Spirit, I welcome your presence”. Then, be in silence, allowing Spirit to intercede for you. You may also pray something like: “Holy Spirit, how do you want me to pray?”. You may actually discover that you may begin praying on your own after a few seconds or minutes.

Be comforted in times when you cannot pray. God is so good! He has prepared us for moments when we are dry… in a desert. Paul says it in Romans 8. And, there are many other scripture passages which back him up. I leave you with a few passages which you can utilize during your time with God. I encourage you to journal about your time communicating with God about how He is calling you to prayer, and how He provides an advocate in the Holy Spirit.

  • Psalm 42:11
  • Psalm 145:18
  • Psalm 143:1  
  • Matthew 8:20
  • Matthew 21:22
  • James 1:6
  • Jeremiah 29:12
  • Jeremiah 33:3
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18                

May you take comfort knowing that you are not alone. I encourage you to remain focused on spending time in prayer. If you have no set time, try setting your alarm to wake up just 15 minutes early, and you may soon discover you need to wake up maybe 20 or 30 minutes earlier than normal. You can also set an alarm so that you will spend at least 15 minutes in prayer before going to sleep. Again, you may discover you need to allow for more prayer time. And, on the days or moments when you don’t know how or what to pray, invite Holy Spirit to do it on your behalf.

May God shine His light, love, mercy, grace, hope, joy, and peace upon you!

Bibliography:

  1. “Bible Gateway Passage: Romans 8 – New American Standard Bible.” Bible Gateway, Lockman, 2020, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+8&version=NASB. Accessed 10 January 2022.
  2. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Letter of Paul to the
    Romans”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 18 Aug. 2020,
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Letter-of-Paul-to-the-Romans. Accessed 10 January 2022.

Advent Wreath & Devotion

An Advent wreath is in the form of a circle, having no beginning, nor ending. Therefore, a circular (round) wreath symbolizes God’s love for His people. God’s love is complete, having no beginning, nor ending. And just as the wreath has no ‘stopping point’, neither does God’s love for us. God’s love is never ending.