Ann Lim Essay #5 In Class Poetry/Song Analysis Psalm 23 is a well known and often recited, memorized and studied passage of the Bible. It is probably one of the most cherished and treasured Psalms of Christian Religion. Even those who once attended the Church at the young age can recognize and recall Sunday School lesson of “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. ” The book of Psalm consists of total of 150 poems. It is divided into 5 books: Book I (Ps. 1-41), Book II (Ps. 42-72), Book III (Ps. 73-89), Book IV (Ps. 90-106) and Book V (Ps. 107-150).
The book of Psalms is written by numerous authors including King David and Psalm 23 is written by this King who reigned and ruled the Israelites with justice, and righteousness. His name is mentioned the most in the Bible and he is the most beloved King by the Israelite Nation. This particular Psalm was probably written in David’s later life as King. In studying 1 and 2 Samuel, David was the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem. Though King Saul was already reigning as the King of Israel, by the command of God, the prophet Samuel anointed David as King of Israel instead because of King Saul’s disobedience and pride.
However, before David was officially recognized and put on the throne, he suffered persecution and hardship from King Saul who wanted him to be dead. Because King David has relied on the Lord his God to bring him to the place of Kingship at God’s timing, he was humble and trusting in God. According to the Bible, because he was such a character, God himself has called him a man after God’s own heart. Before he was a King, he was a shepherd himself who protected and tended his father’s sheep. The Bible also notes that he was a skillful musician.
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Psalm 23 has been given the title, “A psalm of David. ” In this psalm, David claims himself to be a shepherd who is led by God, his shepherd. The shepherd guides, protects and comforts the sheep. Good things are prepared in the presence of his enemies. And because this is the kind of shepherd God is, the sheep or himself shall not want anything else. And in all of his life, goodness and love will follow him and he will dwell in the house of God. King David is addressing to himself and meditating on his God, the good shepherd.
He confesses about the shepherd, his Lord who leads him, who refreshes his soul, who guides him and protects him. He then switches to addressing God directly, “You prepare a table before me/…You anoint my head” (Ps 23:5). When the reader reads, they are able to make the same profession of trust in God and who God is, then able to speak to God, like David himself. They are able to pray and confess the same faith and assurance. Psalm 23 is a prayer of David and his conversation with the Lord, his shepherd. Many pastors and evangelist has preached of Psalm 23.
Without the help of religious experts, anyone can understand and comprehend this Psalm. This shepherd, or David’s Lord is a good shepherd, or a leader who tends the sheep with love, care, gentleness and goodness therefore I, the shepherd lacks nothing and will dwell in the shepherds house forever. “The LORD is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1) personifies God as a shepherd. The first stanza indicates “I” the speaker as the sheep. Humans do not “lie down in green pastures,” or needs to be led “by quiet waters” nor do they need “rod and staff” to be comforted (Ps. 3:2, 4). These actions signify the speaker as the sheep and God as the shepherd. The sheep is known to be blind, needing constant attention. They do not know how to protect themselves nor do they know how to rest because they are the most anxious and paranoid animals. The shepherd in the days of David guarded the sheep with their lives. Not only does the shepherd needs to be with the sheep at all times, shepherd often had to protect them from wild animals such as lions, or bears even if it coasted his life. This is why they carried both the rod and staff.
The rod was used for protection and staff was used for leading the sheep. By personifying humans as the sheep who is blind, always needing guidance and attention shows how helpless and needy humans are. This signifies the relationship between the men and God and their need for each other. King David shows in Psalm 23 how much himself and the children of God are in need of the Lord, the good shepherd. He is the kind of shepherd who provides, who protects, who guides from “green pastures” to the “house of God” (Ps. 3:3, 6). Those who practice Christian faith are once again reminded of God’s grace when reading this passage. They are assured once again of the Lord’s goodness and love and his good way of leading, protecting and providing for them. Psalm 23 truly reflects on the Christianity because it shows the Lord as the leader and the people as follower, like sheep and shepherd relationship revealed in this Psalm. And it is God who leads his people into His presence, or the house of the Lord.
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