Disclosure: I have not researched this, so I can’t say that this is what is “supposed” to be meant by Psalm 23, but when I was reading it today, I saw a “natural progression” of the verses. Here is the chapter in the New Living Translation:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Basically, what I see is this:
We need to have faith & trust in God that He is the one who provides all we need, and that we already have it. Then, once we do, we will be able to be led into a time of rest, which brings us peace. When we are refreshed, we are renewed with fresh strength. Strength for what? To be led down the paths that God prepares for us (not our choosing) so that we can bring honor to his name (not ours). Why do we need strength for those paths? Because they’re not necessarily going to be easy. In fact, it will be the darkest valley & we will encounter enemies. We don’t have to be afraid, though, because let’s not forget that the God who provides for us, gives us rest, peace, & strength, and leads us will also protect us because he is close by (remember he never leaves us!). And pretty soon, a feast will be prepared for us – in the presence of our enemies! We will be honored, anointed, and blessed beyond what we can imagine. During this whole walk with God, he will be pursuing us with his unfailing love & goodness. Then, when all is said & done, we will live in the house of the Lord forever. Wow.
So, to sum it up again:
Faith in God –> His provision –> Rest –> Peace –> Strength –> Led by God –> Darkest valley/enemies –> Protection/Closeness –> Feast to honor, anoint, & bless us –> Live forever with God!
Sound cool to you? It does to me. Let’s be faithful to do our part. Cuz we know God is always faithful to do his.
Thank you, Lord, for your grace!