“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” So begins the journey of a lifetime! (Psalm 23:1). But for the first years of my walk with Christ I didn’t understand the journey of Psalm 23. I had not discovered it’s deepest meanings and most important applications.
I found the key to the treasure store in Psalm 23 many years ago when I read Phillip Keller’s classic devotional book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. He got me started on how to meditate on the David Psalm and a whole new world opened up to me!
Psalm 23 is a prayer and like all prayers we won’t understand it’s meaning merely by studying, but by applying it to our life. You see the journey of Psalm 23 is more than a 3,000 year old story — it’s also a story that’s being re-told in my life and your life today. The story of a shepherd guiding his sheep on a yearlong journey is an analogy for a spiritual formation journey through the seasons of the soul.
Walk with Good Shepherd in Psalm 23
The miracle of Psalm 23 is that whatever you need, however you might be struggling, wherever you are at in your life’s journey, Jesus Christ is waiting for you in Psalm 23! The Good Shepherd will lead you through the seasons of the soul. He will care for you and guide you in the steps of grace that are imbedded in the Psalm 23 journey.
Many, many times over the years Good Shepherd has x-rayed my soul and shown me a picture of where I’m at in my own Psalm 23 journey with him. Then I know just how to pray! As I meditate on the particular phrase from Psalm 23 that I relate to I rely on the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God to guide my prayers and form my heart.
In this same way I’ve used this Psalm 23 outline an assessment survey in counseling and spiritual direction and for seminars and retreats I lead.
A Psalm 23 Outline (and Survey)
When we open up our heart to Good Shepherd and let him diagnose our spiritual condition then our journey begins! Where are you at in the Psalm 23 journey? What season of the soul are you in? What step do you need the most help with in your spiritual development?
Reflect on these twelve steps in the Psalm 23 outline of spiritual formation in Christ. Then circle the number for the one or two steps that you most need to work on to strengthen your relationship with Jesus. You’ll want to share what you learn with a soul friend so that you can pray for one another.
Winter: Enjoying the Blessings of Resting in God
1. Worship: Humble yourself before Jesus as the Shepherd of your soul
2. Trust: Rest in the green pastures of God’s grace
3. Acceptance: Look into the still waters of God’s love to see yourself as he does
Spring: Beginning Anew
4. Confession: Cry out to Good Shepherd when you fall to be restored back onto your feet
5. Guidance: Follow Good Shepherd on the narrow path to true life
Summer: Growing Through Struggles
6. Perseverance: Take courage from your Lord to get through the fearful Valley
7. Discipline: Accept Good Shepherd’s rod to strengthen your boundaries
8. Accountability: Pass under Good Shepherd’s staff for examination and help
9. Forgiveness: Forgive your enemies as your Lord forgave you and be at peace
Fall: Giving to Others
10. Ministry: Be anointed for ministry and overflow with God’s love to others
11. Maturity: Grow spiritually to be more like Christ and to leave a legacy of love
12. Oneness: Practice the presence of God wherever you are