I absolutely love the poetry of the King James Version of Psalm 23, but I also like the way 'The Living Bible' translates it. Better still compare the two - King James at Lauds (Breakfast) and the first 3 verses of Psalm 23 from 'The Living Bible' at Terce (Morning Tea). This is not just one of my favourite Psalms but probably the best known most popular of all the psalms.
When King David was a boy, he used to look after his father’s sheep - so he knew what he was talking about when he spoke of the LORD as his shepherd. As we all know, a “shepherd” looks after sheep. David led the sheep, but the LORD led David. He had a child like faith ever trusting his Lord to lead and keep him safe. It doesn't mean he wasn't in danger, or was always in a safe place, our world is not a safe place and David had to learn to use a sling along with his faith to protect himself and his flock from Lions, Bears, and other predators and dangers. David armed himself, prepared for the worst, but trusted God to walk beside him and give him the best.
God gave him the best, while he was still only a Shepherd boy, God seeing the tenderness and care, with which he protected his fathers sheep, how responsibily he fulfilled the task his father has given him, God decided he was the right one to protect and nurture God's flock, the nation of Israel. The Prophet Samuel came and annointed David as the future King of Israel. After many adventures, much testing, and many trials, David the Shepherd Boy became the King of Judah and Israel, one of the greatest Kings they ever had. Never to be forgotten, and an ancestor of God's own son, who was born of King David's line.
As King, more than ever, King David needed to follow the leading of the LORD God. He was always able to look back on his life as a shepherd boy, and to the trials and tests before he became King and remember the times when God had helped him. Jesus said that when we seek God’s kingdom, and His righteousness, He will provide for us all that we need (Matthew 6:33).
“He leads me beside still waters” – rather than scary noisy fast-running water in which the sheep might drown. Sheep can be stupid sometimes and it gets them in trouble. Jesus the ultimate Good Shepherd does not give us permission to deliberately behave with the type of stupidity that can get us in trouble, remembering what Paul said about grace abounding (see Compline) that being said, some of us get lost sometimes and wander off the track desiring fresh pasture, we wander too far from our shepherd. Losing ourselves in the selfish desires and pleasures of the world. Then verse 3 comes into play.
He restores my soul.” The shepherd rescues the sheep from dangerous and forbidden places. The Lord leads us home through repentance, Then He restores the life of His people. Thankfully not just our physical lives, but he restores our soul and spirit from the damage inflicted by the hurts of the world and the harmful stones, slings and arrows of the enemy. Praise Jesus who heals and restores the broken-hearted, taking them to himself, wrapping them in his arms and healing those wounded by the world.