TWENTY-THIRD PSALM EXPLAINED
September 2018, The Center For Development
of the most healing prayers that we have ever found is the Twenty-Third Psalm of David found in the Old Testament of the
Bible. Repeated often, it can help
turn around negative thinking and assist a person with fears, as can few
others, in my experience.
My own use of this prayer. A number of years ago I was very ill,
and discovered how extremely helpful this prayer can be. Even though I did not believe the
prayer at first, I simply repeated it 20 to 200 times a day. It was an effort to change my mind away
from total despair, negativity and fear.
One could say I brainwashed myself with it.
first, it was just words on a page.
However, after about a year of doing this, I noticed that I was actually
feeling the meaning and sense of the prayer. I actually started to believe in and feel the message of
hope, love and healing that it contains.
even if the words do not ring true for you, or if it seems too good to be true,
just repeating the words and thinking about them, can help them to come alive
Many prayers and psalms in the Bible are wonderful to read and think
about. However, the 23rd
psalm, in particular, is important for this website and nutritional balancing
because I believe it is all about the retracing
process. Retracing is a very
special healing process that occurs in everyone who follows a nutritional
rarely occurs with any other healing program. It almost never occurs when someone follows conventional medical
methods, so most people are not familiar with it. However, it also does not occur much with most holistic and
naturopathic healing methods. This
is because they simply do not heal at deep enough levels. I call these programs Ôremedy
programsÕ, as compared to the delicate balancing and other changes that occur
with nutritional balancing science.
is the process of going back into your symptoms and conditions, and also into
your fears and anger, often and making them right or Òtying up loose
endsÓ. One might say you must
reframe, redo, undo, and restore the body and the mind completely to fully heal
physical, mental and emotional imbalances. This is a deep healing process, and nutritional balancing
programs seem to be able to accomplish it easily. You will see below why I think the 23rd psalm of
David is about retracing. To read more about it, read Retracing
and Trauma Retracing on
this site. Here is this simple
psalm, followed by an explanation.
Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green
me besides clear waters. He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou
art with me. Thy rod and thy
staff, they comfort me.
preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies. Thou anointest
my head with oil. My cup runneth over.
goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell
in the house of the Lord, forever.
The setting for the psalm. King David, who wrote the psalm, grew
up and worked as a shepherd, so he knew a lot about sheep and shepherding. He loved the metaphor of seeing God, or
the Lord, as a shepherd. The
shepherdÕs job is to care for his flock, making sure they are
safe, nourished, calm and happy at all times.
are vulnerable to danger from wolves and other predators because they cannot
run very fast, and they are not always smart enough to avoid danger. To care for them correctly and safely,
sheep require a shepherd to take them to the fertile areas to graze, protect
them from predators and other hazards, and keep them together so they donÕt
stray from the group. This is the
job of the shepherd. One can
extend this idea and say that God does this for us, if we submit to His will.
us now explore Psalm 23 line by line and phrase by
The Lord is my shepherd.
This proclaims the metaphor of the psalm, that god is like our shepherd. That is, he helps us to find food,
water, work, love, friends and all that we need. He also protects us from evil. He also gently or firmly prods us when we step out of line
and deviate from the way of living set down in the Bible as being correct.
I shall not want. This is a very powerful statement, although it is not
explained in detail in the psalm until later. I interpret it to mean that I will have everything I need if
I allow God to be my shepherd. I
may not have everything the ego wants, but I will be cared for, loved, and
provided for very well, indeed.
line is one of the most powerful in the prayer. It is a blunt and frank statement or affirmation. I shall not want means I will be
okay. I will have health, money,
friends, family, respect, love and all else. That is how I interpret it. The line sort of wakes one up from the dead and says you can
have it all, at least what you need, when you elect to have God run your
life. Later in the prayer this
idea is explored more.
shall be free of want also expresses or is an affirmation that my life will not
be controlled by ÔwantingÕ all the time.
Always wanting thins is a miserable way to live, but a common one. The same idea is expressed in the Tenth
Commandment given to Moses in the Old Testament: ÒYou
shall not covet your neighborÕs house. You shall not covet your neighborÕs
wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs
to your neighbor.Ó So
this is another way of understanding this line of the psalm.
me to lie down in green pastures. Sheep require plenty of green pasture on which to graze or to
eat. So at one level, this line
means that God will provide all of my food and other needs. It deepens and repeats the idea that I
shall not want for anything, and that God takes care of me.
a deeper level, it means that God provides nourishment for the body, the mind
and the soul that is wholesome, healthful, and appetizing for me. It does not say I must struggle to make
ends meet. It says God will lead
me to the green pastures, which means all things go.
that it says he maketh me to lie down. It does not say he suggests that I lie
down. At times, we are forced to
just rest. This is an aspect of retracing.
me besides the clear waters. This continues the theme of the previous
line in the psalm. The still
waters may represent peace, love, harmony and beauty.
my soul. When someone is retracing old traumas to
restore health and joy, one often feels that the soul has been somehow lost or
stolen or destroyed. This line is
extremely comforting for those who have this feeling about their lives.
He leadeth me in paths of
righteousness for his namesake. When
one is healing and retracing, often one does not know in what direction to turn
and to go. This assures one that
the Lord will lead you in directions of righteousness, meaning paths that are
wholesome and with full integrity.
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for
though art with me. For many people undergoing the journey
of healing and retracing, this is the most important line in the psalm, though
certainly not the only important one.
It tells us that yes, you may need to walk in
difficult territory in your life.
However, you need not fear, for the Lord is with you. When one retraces, one indeed often
needs to move back into issues and health conditions that need correcting,
healing and perhaps reframing or a different understanding. Anyone who has done it know this to be the case.
Thy rod and thy staff, they
comfort me. Traditionally, shepherds
carried a rod and a staff to guide the sheep and to ward off wolves or other
predators that would harm the sheep.
The metaphor is that the Lord also has his rod and his staff. You may get prodded or pushed, at
times, and it is for your good. It may be for your protection and to
keep you on your path. The rod and
the staff in fact are there to comfort you and know that you are cared for and
is a critical concept when one is on a nutritional balancing program that often
pushes the body in certain directions that may not seem pleasant, at times.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies. This is a very
interesting line. It implies that
you will encounter ÒenemiesÓ, or forces that do not want you to continue your
healing and your retracing. It
also says that you will be taken care of even in the midst of your
opponents. It does not just say
you will survive. It says that a
table or a feast will be spread before you, even while you are in the presence
of those forces that oppose you.
This, indeed, is a wonderful thought to be
my head with oil. This is another surprising line. Anointing the head with oil was a
practice in biblical days that was used to honor a person and to dignify a
person. It means that not only
will you be fed or cared for in the presence of your enemies or opposers, but you will be honored and dignified or deeply
respected, as well.
fact, there is something very holy and special about going through the
retracing process, which eventually takes us all back to God and
perfection. It is far better than
just using remedies, whether they be drugs, vitamins,
herbs or others. This is not easy
to understand, but it is true.
My cup runneth over. This phrase means that I am given even more than I need or
can use. The words form a very
powerful image of a cup of elixir that overflows as
there is so much of it. It means I
am truly abundant, abundantly loved and cared for beyond even my needs or
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,
all the days of my life. This can be interpreted many ways. What is meant by goodness and mercy
shall follow me? To me it means
that goodness and mercy shall go with me wherever I go, and whatever I do, even
if I am in unfamiliar areas or places.
It is a statement of future protection.
use of the word mercy is interesting.
It implies that at times I will sin, or I will not think, act or speak
correctly. So this prayer or psalm
does not say we will be perfect. Quite the opposite.
However, it means that if we allow the Lord to be our shepherd, or guide
and overseer, we will be treated mercifully or leniently. Perhaps our past mistakes will be
forgiven, or at least their importance diminished.
has something very profound to do with forgiving the self and letting go of old
problems on physical, mental and emotional levels. It is truly merciful and good in this respect, going much
more deeply into healing than most of us are accustomed to.
I shall dwell in the house
of the Lord forever.
Here one re-affirms where one wants to live and have oneÕs being or
consciousness. This line is an
affirmation that one chooses to dwell in a particular state of consciousness
forever – the Òhouse of the LordÓ.
me, this is not a physical house, but rather it means to keep oneÕs attention
focused on the Lord, live by the rules set down by the Lord, submit the will to
GodÕs will, and stay with this forever.
The words Òto dwellÓ may also be thought or as Òto abideÓ, which means
to embrace, to follow, to be one with.
This topic is explored in another article on this website entitled Feeling Connected To God.
power of this prayer may be due in part to the fact that millions of people
have used it over the past three or four thousand years. However, it is also a very profound
statement of the process that human beings often go through as they heal at
this prayer seems helpful for you, use it often and learn to appreciate that
when you truly embrace the concept of God as your shepherd and guide, you will
be protected and helped in ways you cannot imagine.