Psalm 23 is for people in recovery. It’s not just alcoholics who need to get in recovery — we’re all sinners in need of recovery. We’ve all been damaged by sin — our own and other people’s — and we need God to restore us to himself and his life. We’re all learning not to sin, but to love Jesus in all situations.
We say, “The Lord is my shepherd” but is he really?
Not when we rely on alcohol to relax. Not when we use our work to feel significant or secure. Not when we think it’s our job to fix people. Not when we present an ideal self to get people to like us. Not when we watch television because we’re bored. Not when we nurse a resentment. Not when we turn inward with self-condemnation or self-pity.
Turning our Life over to the Psalm 23 Shepherd
Psalm 23 provides God’s answer for us. It’s just fifty-seven words in Hebrew and about twice that many in English and yet Psalm 23 gives us all that we need to for life — as long as we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Shepherd of Psalm 23. “I am the Good Shepherd,” Jesus said. “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
In a few short paragraphs the David Psalm offers us a more compelling and practical theology and psychology then we can find anywhere else. It offers us a journey of recovery, similar to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups.
As my Psalm 23 Recovery Version highlights, this is a journey of healing and growth that begins when we make Jesus Christ our Higher Power. The Good Shepherd is the only one worthy and capable of managing our lives.
Psalm 23’s Path of Recovery
Back in 1992 I wrote, “The Journey of Recovery in Psalm 23” to help people struggling with addictions, dysfunctional relationships, and all kinds of wounds and struggles. This Psalm 23 Recovery Version is for all of us who want to turn from sin and trust Jesus.
The Journey of Recovery in Psalm 23
The Lord alone is the Higher Power I need
For without him I can’t manage my life.
In his greener pasture my soul does feed;
In him I trust so I rest without strife.
I drink from the still waters of his love
Then I look close to see myself as he can.
When I fall I call for his help from above
And he restores me to my feet again.
He guides me to the path that’s right for me;
To all the other paths I will say no.
Though the path goes through a long dark valley
I won’t fear since he’s there to help me grow.
With his rod he disciplines me wisely
And helps me to set boundaries that protect.
With his staff he always guides me safely
And inspects me when I pass under it.
He leads me up to a mountain plateau
There are enemies there I must forgive.
His oil heals and anoints so I can go;
His cup overflows to me so I can give.
My steps back home I am able to retrace
Because he follows and has made me new.
In life’s journey I look to my Shepherd’s face
And he guides me to home all the way through.
This was first published in A Walk with your Shepherd by Bill Gaultiere © 1992. This re-published Psalm 23 Recovery Version is updated.