Psalm 23 is perhaps the most beloved passage in all of Scripture. Even many nonbelievers in our secular world are familiar with it due to many references in pop music, movies, and national discourse.
I think you should memorize Psalm 23. Here are five reasons why.
1. You probably already have much of it memorized.
Maybe you don’t think you can memorize Scripture. That’s OK, because there’s a good chance you know much of Psalm 23 by heart already.
Fill in the blank: “The Lord is my Shepherd, ________.” Or we can try verse four: “Even though I walk through the valley ___________.” How did you do?
You may not be used to memorizing multiple verses of Scripture, but the familiarity of Psalm 23 makes it easier to memorize than most other passages of Scripture.
2. You can pray it.
Praying Psalm 23 (and Scripture in general) gives you a mental path to follow in prayer, one of the most helpful ways to focus in prayer. Memorizing this precious Psalm means you can call it to mind for prayer anytime. It may be daily prayer with a loved one, a way to start your personal devotions, or a way to make the most of pockets of free time you find yourself with throughout the day.
As you pray this Psalm and thank your Good Shepherd for wisely shepherding you, you will solidify your identity as a follower of Jesus since He is the Great Shepherd of the Sheep (John 10:1–18; Hebrews 13:20).
3. You will know your Shepherd better and submit to Him.
Psalm 23 shows us how God our Shepherd leads and cares for us, His sheep. He is the active One in the Psalm (see all mentions to “He” or “You” in the Psalm). We receive His gracious actions and submit to Him.
As your soul meditates on the beautiful imagery of the Psalm, you will recognize how God has made you content (verse one), leads you to rest (verse two), restores your soul (verse three), and leads you through challenging times (verse four). You will remember God’s surprising favor to you (verse five) and look ahead to your glorious future in the house of the Lord (verse six). Recognizing God’s work will in the past make you more attune to follow His voice in the future.
4. You can point other believers to their Good Shepherd during the ups and downs of life.
The best thing human shepherds can do is point others to the Good Shepherd. We can’t make anyone down in green pastures, restore anyone’s soul, or be a continual comforting presence in dark times; but our Good Shepherd can. And when we point others to Him and His gracious work, He strengthens weak faith, stabilizes feeble knees, and causes love for Him to grow.
Locking away this psalm in your heart will make it a ready tool for impromptu counseling sessions, hospital visits, caring for a loved one on their death bed, and a myriad of other ministry situations.
5. You can use it for evangelism.
This may be the strangest point on the list because Psalm 23 is anything but evangelistic. But the testimony of the old Scottish preacher John McNeil proves my point. McNeil preached on Psalm 23 all over the world and saw many conversions. Why did that happen? Here’s McNeil’s explanation:
I have often been surprised to find the… converting power, under God, of a portion of Scripture so evidently belonging to believers. The sinner’s mouth begins to water, I suppose, when you seem… to leave him on the outside while you dwell on the blessedness of those who are in the fold. In his reaction to that, he begins to evangelize himself, and gets to the Shepherd without you.
While many in our secular world scoff at the notion of a caring God, everyone longs for what He offers. To have a wise and caring Shepherd for navigating every trial of life might seem too good to be true for the anxious, angry, and depressed of our age. But that’s when we can share Psalm 23 and say, “This is who Jesus is for me and everyone else who trust in Him. But you have to trust in Him for it to be said of you too.”
 Pastor Colin shared this in a sermon on Psalm 23:1.