What Is Psalm 23 of the King James Bible About?

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Psalm 23 of the King James Bible is about faith and the trust in God to guide and protect the individual. It features the iconic phrase, “the Lord is my shepherd,” which metaphorically describes Christians as sheep under the watchful eye of the shepherd Jehovah.

It is generally assumed to have been written by King David, perhaps in the reflective mood of his old age. Psalm 23 might have been written by David in acknowledgement of God’s guiding and protective influence through many of his accomplishments, including the defeat of Goliath with nothing but a slingshot and five stones, suggests James Burton Coffman.

Psalm 23 is often turned to by Christians seeking comfort or who need to reinforce their faith in God.

God is not merely portrayed as a shepherd in this psalm and Christians not merely as sheep. God is also presented as a gracious host who, in 23:5, anoints his guests’ heads with oil in a manner observed at ancient Oriental feasts. The verse reads, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou has anointed my head with oil; My cup runneth over.” In this way, faith in God is shown to have its own reward, evoking the banqueting or providential imagery of other Bible stories, such as Joseph feeding Israel (Genesis 43:34), Jesus feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:19) and the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24).