a sheep in front of a snowy mountain
Praise Foundations

The Psalm 23 Prayer of Faith: When the Lord is Your Shepherd

Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known Psalms in the Bible, yet because it is read and said over and over, it is easy to overlook the profound power found within its words. Psalm 23 is poetic and filled with peaceful imagery, but, in reality, there’s nothing peaceful about being a shepherd- it’s difficult, messy work! But the spiritual principles of Psalm 23 will strengthen your own faith in the Good Shepherd.

Psalm 23 was not written for anyone, nor to anyone, nor to encourage all who read it nor to describe or highlight attributes of God. When David penned the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” he was speaking something profound about himself, that is still relevant and alive and still speaks today. 

Without starting with the words “…the Lord is my Shepherd”, nothing else in the 23rd Psalm can fully apply to the life you live and the experiences you’ll walk through on your journey. Why

Psalm 23 is poetic and filled with peaceful imagery, butthe spiritual principles of Psalm 23 will strengthen your own faith in the Good Shepherd.

~Alicia Pudy

Because David’s words, “…the Lord is my Shepherd”, hinge on the fundamental principal of faith that the Lord is the One to provide, to lead and guide you on the right paths, to protect, redirect, restore, comfort and stay close as He has always promised to do.

The Word of God says Christ Jesus is “the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:14) Knowing that now, what does your journey look like going forward?

a sheep in front of a snowy mountain

Why is Psalm 23 So Powerful?

Psalm 23 is a poetic testimony that traces the journey of a life that is not directed by the guidance of self, but by leading of the Good Shepherd. If the Lord is truly the Shepherd of your life, you will see in this Psalm of David how his life was transformed once he acknowledged God’s guiding hand.

As a shepherd himself, David’s entire life was built around the experience of handling sheep- and he understood nature of God as both a Lion and a Lamb.

As a worshipper, his hope was in the Lord, even when the valley of the shadow of death seemed endless, and when the enemy drew near. It because he was willing to acknowledge the good hand of the Lord in his hardest times that he could face all his pain and suffering and still write:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.Yea, though 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. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

David started Psalm 23 with the words “The Lord is my Shepherd” with great intention because he knew exactly what it meant to have a good Shepherd in charge.

David lived a life of worship and praise and that is what provided him with strength to face the darkest valley and sing about quiet waters. If the Lord is your Shepherd, too, then the rest of Psalm 23 is true for you too. That’s why Psalm 23 is so powerful.

To give over control and submit yourself to Jesus Christ isn’t a one-time event- it is a daily one, sometimes moment by moment!

If the Lord is your Shepherd, too, then the rest of Psalm 23 is true for you too.

~Alicia Purdy

Your sanctification is a lifelong journey and you have the right to determine your own path – and God will allow you to do that. Or, you can determine to be one of the “sheep of His pasture” and allow Him to “lead you in paths of righteousness”. 

The power of Psalm 23 isn’t in the words, necessarily, it is when the power in you is willingly submitted to the Good Shepherd who will never lead you astray.

getting answers to prayer bible

What Does it Mean When the Lord is Your Shepherd?

When the Lord is your shepherd, you invite Him to not only lead you and comfort you and rescue you, restore you, protect and defend you, provide for you and bless you, but also to discipline you as needed, to withdraw you from harm even against your own desires, to fence you in for your protection, to convict and admonish and advise you. 

Is the Lord your Shepherd? 

David had his own flock of sheep. He knew how the Lord would handle a sheep – and how the Lord would handle predator. That is why he stated, “…the Lord is my Shepherd.” The best place for him to live was under the “shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

What does it mean when the Lord is your Shepherd? Read it this way to better understand what really means when you commit yourself to the Lord, every time:

  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – I shall not want.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He makes me lie down in green pastures;
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He leads me beside still waters.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He restores my soul.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – Even though I walk through the dark valley, I don’t have to be afraid of evil overtaking me.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He is with me.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – His rod and His staff, they comfort me.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He anoints my head with oil.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – My cup runs over.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd” – I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord is My Shepherd I Shall not Want…

Is the Lord your Shepherd in each of those areas of your life? What does that look like for you right now? God won’t make Himself your shepherd. You must invite Him to shepherd you and then allow Him to operate freely within that role.  

How could David write, “…I shall not want…” when he had so much pain and suffering and such hard times and experienced so much need?

Psalm 23 quote

How could David write, “…I shall not want…” when he had seen the blood of war and the loss of his infant child and the death of his son Absalom? David’s strength and song were in the Lord. David saw his experiences in life through the filter of his experiences with the Lord – not the other way around.

David saw his experiences in life through the filter of his experiences with the Lord – not the other way around.

~Alicia Purdy

Only a life of praise in God’s presence can bring you the kind of perspective you need to navigate the dark valleys of life. The power of Jesus’ name becomes more dynamic in your life when you understand how to access God through the relationship of intimacy that praise and worship create.

True followers of Jesus Christ have put their faith, hope and trust in Him and throughout the Old Testament it is clear that the foundations of power, and the supernatural perspective of problems in God’s people are always build on praise in His presence.

When the Lord is Your Shepherd, He’s Everything Else too

There are three times in the Bible where you will read these words:

“The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.”

Exodus 15:2 says, The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.”

The song of Moses in Exodus 15 was written immediately after the triumph of God’s people crossing the Red Sea, which God had miraculously parted, allowing them to escape the world’s strongest military power – the Egyptians.

From there, they walked into the freedom God had promised after a long season of enslavement. The response to that mighty, world-changing act of God was immediate and glorious praise, thanksgiving and the acknowledgement of His greatness.

Isaiah 12:2 says, “Certainly God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation.

In Isaiah 12, the prophet Isaiah had just prophesying of the coming Messiah saying:

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…who shall stand as a banner to the peoples. For him shall the nations seek. And his rest shall be glorious.”


Isaiah would not live to see the Messiah, yet he praised the Lord for a Savior who would take the wrath of God upon Himself because he trusted the Lord, his Shepherd, to lead His people out of the valley of the shadow of death.

Psalm 118:13-14 says, “[My enemy] pushed against me, and I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and song; He has become my salvation.

In Psalm 118, the writer was surrounded, pursued, terrified and deeply distressed by people in his life who were coming against him, yet as soon as he stopped to praise and worship the Lord, his perspective of his situation completely changed and he wrote this:

“The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous: ‘The right hand of the Lord is valiant. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord is valiant.’ I shall not die, but I shall live and declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:15-17) 

In this beautiful Psalm, it is clear that this writer’s faith was transformed through his worship as he found his strength AND song in the Lord through his own faith-filled testimony and exaltation. Why? Because the Lord was dwells in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and where the King is, there His power is as well.

more of Him less of me quote

The words “the Lord is my song” are very specific in these passages and what they literally mean in the Hebrew is this: “You are the subject of every song I sing, the words to worship, the melody to my music.” What a beautiful way to express love to Jesus Christ! 

1. The Lord is my strength – If you’re feeling weak, you must give permission to the Lord to be strong for you, but that means you must also release control to Him, sometimes moment by moment. Lifting your hands to the Lord in praise is prophetic act of surrender and let His strength show itself perfect in your weakness.

Learn more about the 7 Hebrew Words for Praise and how each one helps create strength, intimacy, and fresh revelation as you understand more about God’s plan for praise in your life!

2. The Lord is my song – When your words are His Words, there is true power! Why? Because the Lord “watches over His Word, to see it performed.” (Josh. 1:12) It’s important to sing about God, but make sure you sing to Him as well. There are 7 Hebrew words for “praise” in the Bible and your willing sacrifice of praise to the Lord has a unique anointing with each one. Remember, when the Lord is your song, your words have true power.

3. The Lord has become my salvation – Your testimony of the greatness of God is how the world will change and turn to Him. (Psalm 40:1-3) Your story is continually being written which means His greatness is continually on display in your praise. The world wants what you have – your joy for mourning, your peace that passes understanding, and your ability to endure and your inner strength. They’re seeking it in every dark corner. You have the light!!

Remember, when the Lord is your song, your words have true power.

~Alicia Purdy

When the Lord is your Shepherd, there will still be plenty of things you’ll need in your life, but saying, “…I shall not want…” isn’t about how things feel. It is a statement of faith as a child of God that even when life is hard and things are bad, God is always good and His plan is filled with good things for life. Praise and worship are your faith in action!

Psalm 23 is a powerful statement of faith, mixed with experience. David wrote about his experiences in life based upon the life-changing decision he made when he determined that the Lord would be his shepherd. Abraham called the Lord “Jehovah Jireh”, which means “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:11-14)

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” (John 10:14, MEV) 

David trusted God’s Word and you can trust it too through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ will lead you in the right direction through His Word. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught the principles of prayer by which you can invite God to act and move in your life.

In praise and worship with thanksgiving, you open the gates of God’s dwelling place. (Psalm 22:3, Psalm 100:4)

By declaring that, “The LORD is my Shepherd” meant David he would no longer lead himself. As you know, David spent many years as a shepherd, so he fully understood what his life would look like – in both good times and bad – with the Lord as his shepherd. It wasn’t all “quiet waters”!

David knew exactly how a shepherd would handle sheep and he trusted the Lord and made the intentional, deliberate choice to invite the Lord to shepherd him. Was it always easy? No! David made many mistakes. 

David knew exactly how a shepherd would handle sheep and he trusted the Lord and made the intentional, deliberate choice to invite the Lord to shepherd him.

~Alicia Purdy

He walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” many times. He had enemies all around at times, but David believed in faith that the right hand of the Lord would uphold him and he knew God was a Man of His Word.

Making the Lord your shepherd isn’t a one-time invitation. It is a daily state of existence. There will always be predators. There will always be temptations to wander off. When you’ve messed up, invite the Lord to shepherd you once again – and He will!

When you don’t know which way to go, or which choice to make, invite the Lord to lead and guide you like a good shepherd would do, even if it isn’t in the way you would have chosen. 

The Lord is my Shepherd,” David wrote, “I shall lack no good thing.” (NIV) When the Lord is your shepherd, that is your promise too.

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