The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, 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, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
It is rather difficult to ascertain the exact occasion of the writing of the 23rd Psalm. There are those who feel that the Psalm was written when David was a boy tending the sheep, because it is a shepherd’s psalm. However, there is evidence that it was written later in life.
For example, in verse 5, he was old enough to have enemies. In verse 4 he was facing the danger of death. In verse 3 he was experiencing rest, and in verse 5 he was experiencing prosperity.
These things all point to an older person, or at least one who had reached maturity or adulthood.
Some Bible Scholars believe the 23rd Psalm was written while David was at Mahanaim wondering how the battle was between his forces and those of his son, Absalom, during the civil war caused by Absalom’s rebellion. And then some believe it was written later, as a reflection on his life.
Let’s consider 3 options, of when David wrote Though I walk through the valley, of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
#1. The first thing for you to notice about Psalm 23 is the personal use of my. David spoke not of an impersonal faith in a distant God but of a very personal relationship with God. “The Lord is my Shepherd. David says that God will meet his every need. The next thing he says is that God desires that we rest. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” And then “He leads me beside the still waters.” When we come to the Good Shepherd, Jesus, he provides us with rest, food and water. When we come to Him he provides us with Salvation. He feeds us with Himself. He calls himself the bread of life. John 6:35 The Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” When we come to Jesus, he quenches our thirst. He gives us His Spirit to quench our thirst. John 7:37-38 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
If this Psalm was written as a boy shepherd, then he is prophesying his future. He would be anointed with oil to become King. There would be Shadows of Death to follow him. He would face Goliath face to face. He would be hunted by King Saul and his evil forces, but they would not prevail. He would pray for healing for a child that would die. And later he would be in a civil war that was caused by his son who lived, Absolom’s rebellion. Those who believe the Psalm was written as a boy point to the Shepherd analogies all through it. THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD. HE MAKES ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES. Sometimes when a sheep would wonder astray often, the Shepherd would have to force the sheep down. At times the Shepherd would have to break the sheep’s leg to make him lie down where he could be nourished and protected. David is saying there are times when I have to be MADE to lie down in green pastures. Our Shepherd, God, loves us enough that at times He will BREAK us, in order to make us depend on Him. But even if there are Shadows of Death in the green pastures, if we are broken by God to be there, we have nothing to fear.
#2. If this Psalms 23 was written later in life at Mahanaim wondering how the battle was going between his forces and those of his son, Absalom, during the civil war caused by Absalom’s rebellion, we can determine the following. Of course, David was grief-stricken and heartbroken. It may have been the darkest hour of his life and this is where he penned the beautiful words, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Billions of people have been comforted and strengthened in times of sorrow, bereavement and heartache through these immortal words. The battle with Absalom was one that David would win. It was a victory for David, but it was a hollow victory to say the least, because he lost his son in the battle.
If this Psalm was written later in life, at Mahanaim, then David was old enough to have enemies. In verse 4 he was facing the danger of death. In verse 3 he was experiencing rest, and in verse 5 he was experiencing prosperity. These things all point to an older person, or at least one who had reached maturity or adulthood.
#3. Some Bible Scholars believe that this Psalm may have been written later in life as David returned to the valley between Sokoh and Azekah.
This is where David faced Goliath. If we ponder for a moment the words “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”, then the Psalm takes on yet another perspective. In this scenario, the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death is not David’s death at all. As a matter of fact, it is referring to his victory, and therefore is a vivid memory that there is no evil that he should be afraid of. After defeating Goliath, David hung the Philistine’s armor and weapons in his own tent. He made a shrine out of it, as a memorial that He Would Fear No Evil.
The Bible does not let us know for sure when or where Psalm 23 was written. And I believe that God may have kept that a secret on purpose. Because no matter which angle you look at it from, it is still true. If you’re at an early point in your life where you are prophesying the Lord’s future for yourself, then this Psalm is true for you.
If you are in the midst of the deepest, darkest valley and struggle of your life, and it looks like that even if you win, it will still be a hollow victory, then this Psalm is true for you.
And if you are at a point in life where you are reminiscing victories of the past, to encourage yourself that the Lord is still your Shepherd, then this Psalm applies perfectly to your situation and is still true for you as well.
Until next time, keep on writing . . .