Psalm 23 is the most loved chapter in the Bible. It is probably the most famous poem ever composed. The only prayer that surpasses it is the Lord’s prayer. Untold millions of people over the millennia have found comfort, healing, wisdom, and guidance from praying Psalm 23.
How could David, a shepherd boy, put together such a masterpiece? It was the Holy Spirit who inspired his writing.
Countless Psalm 23 translations into English have been written. There are also many hymns, poems, and paraphrases that have been inspired by Psalm 23. I have gathered these Psalm 23 translations and other works on Psalm 23 because they are so fruitful for meditation and prayer. I’ve shared them with others on retreat and in groups.
Enjoy! Find a favorite and soak your soul in it!
One morning when it was raining I laid in bed meditating on Psalm 23. As the rain drops fell I was inspired to write my own paraphrase of Psalm 23, “My Soul Shepherding Psalm.” God used this to help inspire us to start Soul Shepherding as a 501c3 nonprofit ministry.
My Soul Shepherding Psalm
By Bill Gaultiere, SoulShepherding.org © 2007
The Lord Jesus is my Soul Shepherd
who meets all my needs and makes me smile.
He gets me to stop working and to relax
with him in his Father’s loving arms.
He takes me into a quiet place
to be still and know that he is God and I am loved.
He heals and rejuvenates my whole being
with his grace from the inside out.
He holds my hand at the crossroads
and walks me onto the path of life.
Even though I go through dark and difficult times
I don’t fear anything bad because you are with me.
You discipline me in love and converse patiently with me
to bring out the best in me.
You prepare a celebration to bless and honor me –
right in front of my enemies.
You anoint me with your Spirit to minister to others
out of the overflow of your love to me.
I can count on your generous favor and tender mercy
coming to me wherever I go.
I will live in the presence of Christ as his beloved
in all things and at all times.
In these Psalm 23 translations and paraphrases David’s ancient Shepherd Psalm is given fresh wording that helps to bring out new insights and applications. I invite you to read slowly and prayerfully to let the Holy Spirit bring the Word of God to life for you and those you minister to!
Psalm 23: A Psalm for David
From The Holy Bible Douay-Rheims Version © 1609/1752/1899
The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing.
He hath set me in a place of pasture.
He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment:
He hath converted my soul.
He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake.
For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.
Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!
And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.
Psalm 23: A David Song
From The Moffatt Bible by James Moffatt © 1922
The Eternal Shepherds me, I lack for nothing;
he makes me lie in meadows green,
he leads me to refreshing streams,
he revives life in me.
He guides me by true paths, as he himself is true.
My road may run through a glen of gloom, but I fear no harm, for thou are beside me;
thy club, thy staff – they give me courage.
Thou art my host, spreading a feast for me, while my foes have to look on!
Thou hast poured oil upon my head, my cup is brimming over;
yes, and all through my life Goodness and Kindness waits on me,
the Eternal’s guest within his household evermore.
Psalm 23 for Children (and the Childlike!)
From The Living Bible. A paraphrase by Kenneth N. Taylor © 1971
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams.
He restores my failing health.
He helps me do what honors him the most.
Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies
You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!
Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life,
and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
Psalm 23: A David Psalm
From The Message. A paraphrase by Eugene Peterson © 1994
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
These hymns based on the text of Psalm 23 have been sung for hundreds of years in the Church of Jesus Christ. They are early versions of Psalm 23 translations (paraphrases). Not only are these hymns theologically rich they are also heart warming. Even if you don’t know a hymn’s tune, reading it meditatively will make your heart sing!
My Shepherd will Supply my Need
From The Psalms of David by Isaac Watts © 1719
My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.
When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.
The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.
He Leadeth Me
By Joseph H. Gilmore © 1862
He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.
The King of Love my Shepherd Is
By Henry W. Baker © 1868
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!
And so, through all the length of day,
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.
Included in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, James Dalton Morrison, ed., New
York: Harper & Bros., 1948, p. 250.