Commenting on Psalm 23 is like commenting on the Lord’s Prayer. The text has come to mean so much to so many that anyone’s comments fall short. Again, our guide is John Goldingay: (Psalms 1). Reading Psalm 22 is like watching a pious person wrestle mightily with God, with the self, with others, and with what the person believes in the innermost heart and soul and mind.
The psalm is one of expressing utter trust and reliance upon God, and it does so through the metaphor of God as Shepherd. But that applies to vv. 1-4; vv. 5-6 go in a different direction.
YHWH treats the psalmist, or the psalmist says YHWH treats him, the way a Shepherd cares for his sheep. But shepherd’s are often depicted in authoritative and powerful figures (see Goldingay, 348). In some ways this psalm turns the image inside out to a powerful figure who shows love, tender care, and paternal compassion.
YHWH provides: “I shall not want” (or have no lack).
YHWH guides to pleasing places: “he makes me lie down in green pastures”
YHWH guides to still waters (a place where sheep can find water, lie down to rest and then get up for more water).
YHWH restores the innermost part of the human.
YHWH leads into the right places. Faithful paths speak of YHWH’s utter faithfulness and he guides in ways that are consistent with his own faithfulness.
YHWH does this, or all of this, for his name’s sake.
YHWH is with him even into the darkest of death’s valleys.
YHWH’s protective gear is with him and they comfort.
Psa. 23:0 A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Psa. 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff–
they comfort me.
Psa. 23:5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.