Well here it is at long last Psalm 23, 'The Lord is my Shepherd'. It is an incredible Psalm sung more times than any other hymn in history, and quoted by so many people. There are many wonderful chapters and books out there explaining this Psalm, but you will find that there is no historical meaning. The Bible is full of the psychological drama of salvation and not necessarily history, and so each word can be expanded to mean many things, address and awaken many thing sin the conscience.
I've heard that all the attributes of God are hidden within 23rd Psalm for example: God our Healer, God our Provider, God our Vindicator and is symbolic of how complete God is in our lives, He is the good Shepherd and knows his sheep (John 6. ).
But its the power of this psalm that is interesting. I was in the Royal Hospital in Edinburgh visiting a young woman of 35 yrs dying with cancer. Jennifer had been admitted to the Intensive care unit at the time. I had traveled all the way up with her from Dumfries. When she was finally settled into the ward, an elderly priest came over and sat besides us, and we got talking, and we were speaking about prayers. He had just been over to see one of his flock, and we were talking about psalm 23. He had just read it out to the elderly woman in the corner. The doctors couldn't do anything for her, yet some how she had just responded to psalm 23. We sat for a moment, looked at each other and then we read psalm 23. The father first and then me.
There was little hope for Jennifer, but remarkably God responded to that prayer, and through psalm 23 God did something remarkable once again. She had a 6 year old son, she was on her own, she needed time, she had been diagnosed with only a few months to live, God gave here another 5 years; she set her house in order, she saw to her sons future, she was given a remarkable strength to carry through the things she needed to do.
Out of all the psalms this is by far the greatest in which God responds.
1 "The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake
.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.