Specific wording of Psalm 23 in the Hebrew or Old Testament Bible varies depending on the translation. Common translations of the Bible include the King James, New International Version and Revised Standard Version. All translations portray the Lord as a shepherd carefully and lovingly tending his sheep.
Psalm 23 is perhaps the best known and most loved psalm in the Bible, providing comfort, consolation and hope to those who hear or read it. Christians associate the image of a shepherding Lord with New Testament imagery of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. King David, once a shepherd himself, is believed to be the psalm's writer. The psalmist pictures his walk though a dark valley of evil with the Lord protecting him from danger with his comforting rod and staff, symbols of protection and guidance. The Lord then leads the psalmist to a banquet table where he is anointed with oil, a sign of blessing and kingship, and lavished with overflowing goodness in the presence of his enemies. Finishing on a note of triumphant hope and rejoicing, the King James version ends: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."