A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

by W. Phillip Keller

Paperback, 1974





"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want..." Travel the shepherd's path to the green pastures and cool, refreshing waters of Psalm 23. As a shepherd, Phillip Keller shares his insights into the life and character of sheep - and of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for them. This beloved classic will give new meaning to the ageless Shepherd Psalm, enriching your trust in and love for the Lord who watches closely over you.


Zondervan (1974), Edition: Large type / large print edition, 144 pages

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(155 ratings; 4.1)

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LibraryThing member enoch_elijah
I will be making this review a short one. Suffice to say that I HIGHLY and without any reservations recommend this book! Especially to anyone going through rough times...I guarantee that this book will help you through such times. And I do not mean by this that one should read this book instead of
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the Bible...far from it. Only that you read it as well. It is guaranteed to take you right back to the Word and make you ponder with more care the Truth of God's Sovereignty and of His wonderful care for you.

What Mr. Keller does in this fabulous book is to take Psalm 23 and explain it verse by verse, using his vast experience in working with sheep to provide an intimate look at what David the shepherd was referring to as he penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Having grown up in East Africa and having been a shepherd for many years as well as a lay pastor, Mr. Keller does a remarkable job of brining this psalm into our modern times.

Throughout his book I found myself inspired, encouraged, and exhorted. Was I feeling sad? The book instead helped me to take the focus off myself and place it on Him, on appreciating the care with which He is comforting me even in the midst of trials and tribulations that have come close to knocking me down. In fact, one of the most awesome passages comes from the second to last chapter, in which he is discussing "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me..."

After having explained how a good shepherd cares for his flock, and having made the connection to how God cares for us as His sheep, Mr. Keller says the following:

"The sheep with such a shepherd knows of a surety that his is a privileged position. No matter what comes, at least and always he can be perfectly sure that goodness and mercy will be in the picture. He reassures himself that he is ever under sound, sympathetic intelligent, ownership. What more need he care about? Goodness and mercy will be the treatment he receives from his master's expert hands.

Not only is this a bold statement, but it is somewhat of a boast, an exclamation of implicit confidence in the One who controls his career and destiny.

How many Christians actually feel this way about Christ? How many of us are truly concerned that no matter what occurs in our lives we are being followed by goodness and mercy? Of course it is very simple to speak this way when things are going well. If my health is excellent; my income is flourishing; my family is well; and my friends are fond of me it is not hard to say "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

But what about when one's body breaks down? What do I say when I stand by helpless, as I have had to do, and watch a life partner die by degrees under appalling pain? What is my reaction when my job folds up and there is no money to meet bills? What happens if my children can't make their grades in school or get caught running with the wrong gang? What do I say when suddenly, without good grounds, friends prove false and turn against me?

These are the sort of times that test a person's confidence in the care of Christ. These are the occasions during which the chips are down and life is more than a list of pious platitudes. When my little world is falling apart and the dream castles of my ambitions and hopes crumble into ruins can I honestly declare "Surely--yes---surely--goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"? Or is this sheer humbug and a maddening mockery?"

Wow. These words pierced my soul! "When my little world is falling apart and...my ambitions and hopes crumble into ruins..." This is EXACTLY where I feel myself to be! So at this point...how do I react? Believe it or not, by clinging to His promises! By clinging to His love. By knowing that He is my God and His will be done and His name be glorified in all things, whether through my restoration or my humiliation. And this is not easy to write. Nor was it an easy place to come to.

And this is why I highly recommend "A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller. After the wonderful Word of our Lord, his book helped me come to a place where I can say as the psalmist did, "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

So hurry up and read it! :)
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
This book changed the way I perceived God. I knew in my head that God would never discard me, that salvation is by grace and not works, but through this book, God made that idea real to my heart. My love for Him abounds with no reservations.
LibraryThing member lbigcrum
The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character? Does He have adequate credentials
to be my Shepherd—my manager—my owner? ~ W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Every person who claims to know the 23rd Psalm should read this 173 book. Find out what it really means for a sheep to
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lie down in green pastures. Discover what the “table” in the presence of enemies refers to for the shepherd.

Never again will I speak a phrase of the 23rd Psalm without thinking of the pictures planted in my mind by this little book. It has given me a feeling of truly being loved and cared for by the Lord, my Shepherd, in the midst of his flock.

Learn the depth of meaning of this so often quoted Psalm from the experience of a shepherd.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
"The Lord is my shepherd," starts the 23rd Psalm. And then it goes from there.

It was because of this first line, though, that the Australian shepherd, Phillip Keller, decided to take a look at what this was all about, and what it meant to him, as a shepherd.

Keller is admittedly a layperson when it
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comes to great theological mysteries, so instead of delving into the deep significance of cups runneth-ing over, he instead looks at it in a more simple light.

If you are interested in biblical studies, and would like to augment your understanding of the 23rd Psalm, then this book may be of interest to you.
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LibraryThing member salem.colorado
Phillip Keller, the author of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 32, has spent many years in agricultural research. In this book he looks at each of the twelve phrases in the psalm and explains the agricultural terms and shows how the Good Shepherd is protecting and taking care of us.
LibraryThing member erwinkennythomas
W. Phillip Keller, author of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 grew up and lived in East Africa surrounded by herders. He explains much of what happens resembles those shepherds in the Middle East. For eight years he was a sheep rancher, and was engrossed with the stories of the Bible. He therefore uses
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natural phenomena to provide insights into supernatural truth. Keller points out that present day city dwellers miss biblical teachings because they are unable to relate to nomadic folks who live in simplicity.

He brings to bear a shepherd’s insight to this devotional Psalm. He empathizes with David himself and refers to Psalm 23 as “David’s Hymn of Praise to Divine Diligence.” With “I shall not want,” God points out that in our lives like sheep we’ll be free from friction, for he has prepared an ideal banquet for our every need. God leads us to “still waters.” He doesn’t want us to toil on dry, semi-arid soil without having deep, clean, and pure water to drink. This situation is ideal for sheep grazing.

God “restores my soul.” This happens when sheep becomes distressed, but here God is ready to comfort and give them rest. In “paths of righteousness” is our assurance that his flock will strive. Even as they “walk through the valley” is the fact that our Savior knows firsthand the terrain of our lives, just like any shepherd, who leads his sheep in mountainous territory.

“Thy rod and thy staff” brings the sheep comfort as they are guided by a loving, and caring Savior. “Thou preparest a table,” Keller feels this is similar to the feast on Table Mountain near Cape Town, Africa. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is his everlasting care exercised over the sheep. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” climaxes this proud and joyous Psalm.

Psalm 23 is considered the nightingale of Psalms. It’s the epitome of feeding, guiding, governing, and defending the sheep. Its climax terminates in everlasting rest – not one of sorrow and pain, but joy, hope, and pleasure. People can say, “O death, where is thy sting!” “Thy rod dost comfort me” as we journey and feed on his Holy Word. Now we reach the zenith, and are guests of God’s everlasting banquet. Keller captures it all in his wonderful little book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.
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LibraryThing member vigilant20
This is the first book in a long time that I picked up and just could not force myself to finish reading. It started with a lot of convoluted trinitarian thinking and launched into a very tedious breakdown of Psalm 23, phrase by phrase..where even the most basic ideas required long winded
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explanations to prove.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Phillip Keller, a former shepherd, takes apart the 23rd Psalm and investigates it line by line, sharing stories from his own experiences and explaining elements from the perspective of caring for sheep throughout the course of the year.

When I was in college, I heard a series of short sermons that
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had been inspired by this book, so it had been on my TBR list for awhile. Unfortunately, I think the sermons were the better parts of the book. Though there were some nuggets of wisdom and some details of caring for sheep that I never would have connected to lines in the psalm, I was left underwhelmed. Many of the thoughts are overly repetitive. Keller was a lay preacher, and some of his points seemed to me rather thinly connected to the psalm through a bit of wordplay, and not backed up by the meaning of the original words or Bible scholarship. More personally, I thought his wording old-fashioned (this was published in the '70s) and was a little put off by his choice to quote the King James Version. Cautiously recommended for some of the details that do connect strongly with the psalm.
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LibraryThing member emabbott
I would give this a 3.5 really. The editing was a little sloppy. The exegesis was questionable at points, but I expected as much given the nature of the book. By the end, the author had lost me. I couldn't agree with some of the connections he was making especially. That said, I loved the
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shepherding stories from the author. It really did push me to rethink this Psalm. I am going to have to examine some of my assumptions about this text and give it a fresh look. For that reason, I am glad I read this book.
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