preload preload preload preload

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23


22nd June 2013 Christian Books 37 Comments

‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not 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.


A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23










  • 37 responses to "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23"

  • Mark McKee
    5:13 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Here is a book that expounds Psalm 23 like you won’t likely find elsewhere. Who else could explain Psalm 23 but a shepherd who also is born again? who understands the shepherding concept of God in the Bible? This book will get you thinking “out of the box” of typical interpretation (as sincere as many Bible interpreters are) and bring you into the realm of sheperding reality as it applies to the believer’s life. When God wrote about shepherds and shepherding, He used a lifestyle that the Hebrews would understand. Did you know that the shadow of death is not about dying? Did you know that, while this Psalm is useful for deathbed circumstances, it is most applicable to the living and their daily circumstances? Phillip Keller has done a wonderful job. Even when one reads Charles Spurgeon’s “The Treasury of David” as he and numerous other commentators address Psalm 23, they miss the mark noticeably because they aren’t shepherds. Whether you are going to teach Psalm 23 or use it for prayer, or song worship (for which it is intended), you probably won’t find a better book written than this one. You won’t believe what you’ve been missing in this Psalm. You can’t read it just once, almost just like the Psalm itself.

  • Sonja Sinclair
    5:30 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Philip Keller does a wonderful job of drawing a connection between how a sheepdog relates to its owner and our relationship with God. EXCELLENT witnessing tool. I own 60 sheep and am actively involved in herding and training herding dogs. Philip’s analogy’s are right on the money. I have bought several of this book to give to herding friends.

  • S. Balmer
    7:33 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Here is a book that expounds Psalm 23 like you won’t likely find elsewhere. Who else could explain Psalm 23 but a shepherd who also is born again? who understands the shepherding concept of God in the Bible? This book will get you thinking “out of the box” of typical interpretation (as sincere as many Bible interpreters are) and bring you into the realm of sheperding reality as it applies to the believer’s life. When God wrote about shepherds and shepherding, He used a lifestyle that the Hebrews would understand. Did you know that the shadow of death is not about dying? Did you know that, while this Psalm is useful for deathbed circumstances, it is most applicable to the living and their daily circumstances? Phillip Keller has done a wonderful job. Even when one reads Charles Spurgeon’s “The Treasury of David” as he and numerous other commentators address Psalm 23, they miss the mark noticeably because they aren’t shepherds. Whether you are going to teach Psalm 23 or use it for prayer, or song worship (for which it is intended), you probably won’t find a better book written than this one. You won’t believe what you’ve been missing in this Psalm. You can’t read it just once, almost just like the Psalm itself.

  • Mike C.
    9:31 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    The book was in great condition, but I didn’t know I was getting the gift edition. Perhaps I didn’t read correctly. The book is a nice hardback though!

  • jmdesp
    10:50 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23I have never much enjoyed art galleries. This may be a little-known fact, but I am color-blind, and I’m sure this explains why art has never had much appeal to me. After all, if I see reds, greens and browns all as shades of brown, surely art is far less appealing to me than to those whose eyes work as they were meant to. But I remember one time when I was a teenager, my family travelled to Washington, D.C. with my aunt and uncle, both of whom are artists. Walking with them through the National Gallery brought about an entirely different perspective. Because they understood art, they were able to explain it to me in a way I had never considered. They showed me variations in texture, spoke about the difficulty of different types of shadowing and lighting, and the different media artists use. It opened my eyes, and in that period of time I came to understand and appreciate art so much more deeply than I had before, despite my limitations.

    I think also of a small museum that was situated on the grounds of an airport near my house. This museum housed some of the finest vintage aircraft in the world, including the world’s only Lancaster bomber that was still in operational condition and that still flew. It often took to the skies and flew over my home. It was one thing for my friends and myself to go and look at all the planes, perhaps even imagining that we understood what it was like to stare out at a cold, dark sky, keeping a watchful eye for enemy planes. But it was another thing altogether to watch the veterans who had given their best years to the war, and who had spent countless hours inside these planse – so many hours that they still knew the planes inside and out, even fifty years later. The tears in their eyes as they watched the Lancaster fly over their heads spoke of a knowledge far beyond anything I would ever understand.

    All this by way of introducing the book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Just like an artist best appreciates an art museum and a veteran best appreciates the aircraft he once flew, in the same way there may be no better guide for the twenty-third Psalm than a shepherd. Phillip Keller grew up in East Africa, in the midst of a culture that was still rooted in the ancient traditions which the Psalmist knew. Keller was also, for many years, a shepherd, who was well acquainted with the language David employed in this best-loved Psalm.

    Keller guides us phrase-by-phrase through this poem, pausing often to reflect on the nature of the shepherd and his flock, and stopping to give stories based on his experiences. He guides the reader throughout to reflect on the love of the Savior and to see the deepest meanings in each part of the Psalm. The reader will find, as the author did, that “…it is no mere whim on God’s part to call us sheep. Our behavior patterns and life habits are so much like that of sheep it is well nigh embarrassing” (page 65).

    At times I wonder if Keller has not stretched the metaphor just a little bit too far. For example, he contends that the meaning of “thou preparest a table for me” is not that God has prepared a banquet feast, as I have long supposed, but that “table” refers to the top of a hill which a shepherd diligently prepares before the arrival of his flock for their summer pasturage. “Thou anointest my head with oil,” according to the author, is drawn from the shepherd’s task of putting oil on a sheep’s head to ward off the pests that can drive a sheep to distraction. I must say, though, that he provides ample evidence that perhaps we have misunderstood the latter part of the Psalm and that David really was holding to the metaphor of sheep and shepherd.

    In either case, it does not detract from the book. This is a wonderful little book that gave me much to think about, and as my wife can attest, plenty to talk about. Above all, it led me to understand, in a deep and moving way, just how much the shepherd (and thus the Shepherd) loves his (His) sheep. It shows just how involved in the lives of his flock the shepherd must be, and how utterly helpless the sheep are without him (Him). It is amazing how much I learned about a Psalm I thought I knew so well.

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is a fascinating, moving book and one whose content will undoubtedly stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend this book – it will cost only a few dollars and take only a few hours to read – for any believer, young or old.

  • Apple Fan
    12:45 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    When Phillip Keller established a sheep ranch in Canada he soon realized he would require a sheep dog–and fate brought him to Lass, an abused Border Collie with a fierce and stubborn disposition. Clearly there was much for Lass to learn! But there was also a great deal for Keller to learn, and in his work with Lass, Keller sees his own spiritual journey reflected.

    In many respects this is a charming, unpretentious, and often thought provoking book, filled with memorable phrases and insights. Even so, and in spite of its brevity (it runs less than less one hundred small pages), it is surprisingly repetitive; Keller essentially gives the complete history of Lass in the first two chapters, a fact that leaves no room for the reader to be surprised by his later reflections. Still, I recommend it–particularly for the Christian dog-lover in your life.

    GFT, Amazon Reviewer

  • David McElroy
    14:54 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I gave this book to a friend for her birthday. She has a dog just like Lass and could relate very closely to the author’s experiences. She loved the book. I am reading it now and agree completely. Great book for any dog lover.

  • BioGeek
    16:52 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    this is an interesting book but not easy to read.
    Anyone looking for a spiritual book, this is very good.
    one may not agree with the writes view but it is great
    to read another’s point of view.

    The book arrived in good shape and quickly.

  • Fycljfzl
    18:37 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    It’s a very good very virky with a motion of potion.It’s a good book.

  • daniel gau
    19:46 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Be sure to get this little book to go with “A shepherd looks at psalm 23″. It will open you eyes to your relationship with our good shepherd and it may put you to shame as to how willing are you to follow His call.

  • Content Maker
    21:46 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is the best book on Psalm 23, an excellent presentation, very easy to read. I think that I have read almost all the major books and papers on Psalm 23 (commentaries, sermons, critical books, papers, and on Shepherd Motif/Imagery) but I still felt to hit a wall to preach Psalm 23 for a long time until this book. The author truly breaks the wall for me to open my eyes to see and preach Psalm 23 and Shepherd in the Bible. Also I provide this book as a required reading for our discipleship and leadership training for last 15 years (and I think that I have bought already a few hundred copies and the other editions including “Phillip Keller: The Inspirational Writings”) to my fellow Christians to appreciate Psalm 23.
    Richard K. Min, Dallas, Texas

  • Jeff SKI Kinsey
    22:40 on June 22nd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (1970) is a devotional commentary on David’s Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller (also known as W. Phillip Keller), who was many things, not least a sheep rancher.

    Psalm 23 is a short psalm, and this is a short book – even so, Keller devotes two chapters to each verse. Keller provides shepherding context for each part of the psalm, explaining David’s perspective on the subject matter and adding his own. The reader will learn as much or more about caring for sheep as about the Christian life, and much of this material is interesting in its own right. Spiritual matters are generally addressed at the devotional level (that is, not particularly in-depth), but Keller’s insights provide a fuller understanding of the psalm and food for thought.

    Keller’s writing is conversational and accessible, and the book is easy to read. Overall, Keller’s application of David’s thought to the Christian life is solid, although he makes some biblically valid points that are certainly not what David had in mind (Chapter 9 in particular feels like a reach). The only other complaint with the writing is Keller’s constant incorrect use of the word “literally.”

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is, on the whole, a worthwhile and illuminating treatment of Psalm 23.

  • Charcoal
    0:07 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is a wonder reflection on the 23rd Psalm. More importantly it helps you appreciate the Good Shepherd and how much He love you. Supports why it is important to let Him be you guide to the high pasture. My wife is using this book in a women’s Bible Study group. Read it and be enriched.

  • investingmoney
    1:29 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This book is warm story that shows the relationship of trust and loyalty built between an abused dog and his new owner. I highly recommend it to any and all.

    Worthy of a re-read from time to time. Among other messages, a gentle reminder of the spirit of service we are all meant to demonstrate!

  • RiverRun
    3:46 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This book should be read by anyone who has a animal. It is so heartwarming and loving. And the tie between God and nature is so strong. I loved it. All kids should read this book. Teeens too.

  • Andrew Molina
    5:38 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This short paperback book of 142 pages offers as much insight as a book 10 times its size. Phillip Keller gives us a view from the shepherd’s eyes and heart that we could not understand by just reading Psalm 23 on our own. By itself Psalm 23 offers great comfort. However when verbally illustrated by a true shepherd one becomes acutely aware of just how much God loves us and the pains He goes through to take care of us. It left me with the deepest appreciation and longing to stay in an intimate relationship with the “good shepherd” and keenly aware of the forces that try to destroy the herd. Even the nonbeliever might find it interesting to see the corelations between sheep and their shepherd and humans and God. Comforting and challenging.

  • DeanF
    8:35 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    My brother bought this book for me and started my addiction to Mr. Keller’s writings. I read the book through and only put it down with great reluctance. Mr. Keller took one of the most beloved of Psalms and made it so that I was not only able to understand it better, but I could see the “subtle colors” in it. I not only love this Psalm for why I first read it, I can see more of the background to the picture that God was painting for us through David’s hand. I would not only recommend this book for ANYONE, I have bought copies of it to use for presents. If you read it, you will be happy to pass it out to someone that you love. Mr. Keller has written in such a style that you will enjoy reading his book and then go back into your Bible and read what the Lord has written for us with a lot more joy in your heart for His provision.

  • Brad J Jones
    10:12 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    A fundamental failing piece of detail about this book is the author’s total repetitiveness with words and ideas. Not all so bad if you read a little, leave it and come back to it later, but with the size and length of this book, that’s probably unlikely. It’s quick and easy to read all the way through when the total number of pages is below a hundred.

    But it is a wonderful story and it illustrated many key points that stuck with me. Opening my mind up to a different perspective that makes sense. Touching the heart because of the familiarity generated from my own experiences in small animal husbandry I’ve had ever since I was a kid. One valuable point I took away from the text was a different interpretation about what it means to fear the Lord contrary to Old Testament viewpoints. By the author’s account, to fear God is to have such a loving respect for Him as to be afraid of bringing Him grief or disappointment.

    Even with its draw back, this story is not all so bad; it does make quite a few good points. Those who love animals and/or own a pet of any kind will definitely enjoy it, because it warmly relates to that special bond of friendship between human and animal. A healing and teaching connection that comes over time in the development of companionship, trust, obedience and perception from choosing and caring for a pet.

  • JoeChen
    11:39 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I HAVEN’T TOTALLY READ THIS BOOK BUT IT WAS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ME BY A FRIEND WHO KNOW’S MY SITUATION. I WAS GLAD TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND/BUY IT AND GET IT IN A TIMELY MANNER. SO FAR I REALLY LIKE THIS BOOK & WOULD RECOMMEND IT TO OTHERS.

  • The Beast
    13:23 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Not only has Phillip Keller brought new meaning to my idea of being a shepherd, he also reminds ever so gently, that I am a sheep, not just in concept but in the reality of so much of my behavior.

    This book is a must-read for everyone but especially for those who have a “flock” (of whatever type)

  • Jeff Schulz
    14:26 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Mr. Keller is one of my favorite authors. He did not disappointment me in this book. He takes his usual everyday situations and shows how the Lord’s Word relates to it. His illustraions are powerful and easy to understand and relate to. This helps him to get the reader to understand Bible truths in a different way. I would recommend this book to anyone that would like to be inspired. This is one that is defintely staying in my library.

  • Calvin Pennock
    14:39 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Keller tells the story of his search for God’s presence in his life trough an engaging story about his working relationship with his first sheepdog Lass. Well written, it was a quick read that I finished in one evening. The parallels between Keller and Lass and Keller and God are well thought out. I also enjoyed this book from the view of a manager. Keller wrote the book about the working relationship between God and man through the story of his dog, but, I found most of the ideas translate directly to managing of people. Good read. I highly recommend this book.

  • Milt Ares
    17:06 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This marvelous book tells how a car-chasing, useless pup was transformed into a magnificient dog. Anecdotes of the process are used as parables to show us how even some of our worst characteristics can be a blessing, when we stop trying to use them in self-serving ways and use them to serve God’s will and purposes.I highly reccomend this book for anyone in a 12 step program, or for anyone attempting to train a stockdog

  • Kely Devon
    17:29 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is a masterful book that has remained a classic for years. The overall theme of this book is worship. Keller is in love with his God, and it is hard to go more than a paragraph before you find more words of praise for God and Jesus.

    Keller weaves the metaphor of the relationship between sheep and a shepherd like no one else could. He raised sheep for years, so he has exquisite knowledge of what it is like to raise sheep. Not only does he expound on what the psalm can mean to your spiritual life, he also gives interesting information on sheep and how to raise them.

    Some of Keller’s comparisons of Jesus to a shepherd astonished me, and I was left with a feeling of comfort. I’ve always been familiar with this psalm, but Keller explaining the actual herding terms and how dependent sheep are on their shepherd made me stop and think. Excellent read. Definitely worth having on your bookshelf.

  • Alex Carlos
    19:26 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This little book provides a deeper, richer vision of the Good Shepherd in the context of Psalm 23.

    The role of the Shepherd in the lives of sheep; leader, comforter, caregiver, provider, protector, and owner brings rich spiritual insights to Jesus’ role in the life of the believer. The parallels are insightful, moving, and profoundly relevant to the Christian experience.

    Using personal stories from life as a shepherd accompanied by illustrations drawn from the scripture, Keller provides concerete, specific narrative about being a sheep as well as being a shepherd!

    This is a sweet gem of a book bringing to life a favorite passage of scripture.

  • Derrith
    19:56 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I found this book fascinating. I didn’t want to put it down. This dog was thought to be worthless and untrainable, but with love he turned into a magnificant animal. It taught me a lot about unconditional love.

  • Jerald Grensky
    21:15 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is a wonder reflection on the 23rd Psalm. More importantly it helps you appreciate the Good Shepherd and how much He love you. Supports why it is important to let Him be you guide to the high pasture. My wife is using this book in a women’s Bible Study group. Read it and be enriched.

  • bob_the_lefty
    22:39 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Mr. Keller is very good at bringing to life the shepherd’s view as expressed in the 23rd Psalm. He is personally aquainted with the Eastern way of sheep ranching, which of couse is the method employed and understood by David, the psalm’s writer. More than just being insightful into the shepherd’s mind-set and references, he takes us beyond the physical realm to the spiritual applications that were intended by the the Lord, who inspired David to write it. Herein lies the real worth of this book, because we are brought to see the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and how He is caring for the sheep of His pasture. It brings great comfort to know the love and care that My Shepherd exhibits for me. I recommend it to read by all those who have called upon the Lord and have let Him be their Shepherd. As they read this book they’ll understand in a far deeper way the psalms’ opening line, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” I also recommend it to those who ! ! are seeking such an encounter with the Lord God. He is patiently waiting your surrender. God bless you and brother Keller.

  • setiri
    23:08 on June 23rd, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I loved this book. Very good insight into how much the Lord loves and cares for us. I was very touched.

  • Numbers Guy
    3:13 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I love Keller’s writings and Lessons From a Sheep Dog was no disappointment. With gentleness and transparency the author shares his lessons in life that only God can teach . . . through a dog. This easy read makes for the perfect morning devotion.

    The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start

  • Good Catch
    4:35 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Keller’s classic book on Psalms 23 provides unique insights into the conduct & character of mankind.
    If the reader can not gag on the continual self-promotion of Keller, smeared throughout the booklet, it remains a very good choice for devotional reading.
    A better title may have been “Shepherd exalts himself while commenting on Psalm 23″.
    Spend the [money], it’s still worth it.

  • Gizmodo
    5:55 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Did you know that not all things have to be taught by people? In Lessons from a Sheep Dog By Phillip Keller you will learn things from sheep dogs you thought could only be taught by people.

    Lass, a non well trained sheep dog, teaches the farmer about discipline, trust, and love. Although Lass wasn’t trained the farmer learned that he needs to show Lass who is in charge. Also he learns that if he doesn’t trust Lass then Lass will just be stuck as a puppy forever. Then love because Lass was more then a sheep dog she was the farmers best friend. This story was told in the narrator point of view. The author kind of wrote in a creative way because he didn’t straight up tell that Lass was teaching the farmer about life but you could still tell that that is what the author was trying to get through our brains. This story takes place on a farm. One connection I made was “I like this character because he knows how to show Lass who is boss.”

    This book was pretty good and I would recommend this novel to people who like dog books. This book was also exciting and loving.

  • bloopy
    8:59 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This book is easy to read and wonderful at helping those of us who have never been around sheep much to understand the Bible’s many references to sheep and shepherds. It greatly enhanced my appeciation of the 23rd Psalm specifically, but has also provided a background knowledge of the sheep-shepherd relationship that is needed to fully appreciate the analogy of Jesus as our “Good Shepherd”.

  • Alfred E Nueman
    9:23 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Today, I can truly say with complete belief – not a trace of doubt: “The Lord, He is my shepherd”. Many years of bible study, church going, and surviving many trials of life, still left me without a deep, passionate, all-encompassing love for Him. Why? Because I couldn’t grasp the reality of the depth of how much He loved me, and continues to love me every day. This beautifully illustrated book of “word pictures” from real life experiences of a shepherd, changed me. I’ll never be the same, I’m happy to say! He has become my First Love, my everything! How amazing it is to walk in His freedom and peace and joy with enthusiam to share His love – not so much with my words — but with my actions!

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (Anniversary Edition)

  • FutureTense
    11:26 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Phillip Keller’s book Lessons from a Sheep Dog provides a comprehensive analogy between a shepherd and his sheep dog, and Jesus and man. Keller is a real life shepherd who adopted a wild dog call Lass. Through observation of how Lass grew to trust him, to being a faithful partner in his work, Keller saw how we grow to trust Christ, and can truly partake in His work. Keller takes us through the changes that we need to make to become obedient to, trusting in, loving of, and available for Christ.

    I must admit, the parallels run deep in a very unforced manner. I didn’t get bored, and I never felt like the symbolism was stretched beyond straightforward Biblical doctrine. The book is only 540 locations long, so you can read it in a few hours. If you want a light read that inspires you as to who you can be in Christ, or if you want to give someone a simple book to encourage them in their personal discipleship, then you’ll like this book. If you want deep theology and an intellectually challenging scriptural analysis then you’ll want to read something else.

  • joetahoe
    13:50 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This book was written back in 1970 by author Phillip Keller. Mr. Keller is from East Africa as he was born to missionary parents. There he tended sheep as a shepherd and as his life went on, from what I understand, did many other things his in his life.

    This book walked through Psalm 23, as the title purports, from the view of the shepherd which was very helpful. The one that really caught me off guard was the commentary on Psalm 23:5b which states, “You have anointed my head with oil.” Keller gives insight that for the sheep, this is done to ward off the flies and insects that come and disrupt the sheep and can actually lie eggs in their nostrils and cause the sheep to bang their heads on trees (sometimes to the point of death) so that they can rid themselves of these larvae. This oil is carefully rubbed, by the shepherd, on the sheep’s head and nose to make sure the sheep are not bothered by these insects. This parallel makes a lot more sense when thought of our Saviour anointed our head with oil to ward off the things of this world that can so consume us.
    This is just one of the many insights given by a shepherd to this great Psalm that is known by so many Christians and non-Christians alike.

    The only downfall to this book is that the author is not a scholar nor a theologian. So, when he starts to unravel some of the Psalm he uses other Scriptures out of place and also draws unbiblical examples with the sheep that fall short of sound doctrine. But don’t let this draw you away from the book for the good far outweighs the bad, as the bad only came up three or four times to my recollection.

    This book would be a good addition to any Christian who would like to glean more from such a popular text

  • Meg Endler
    14:04 on June 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Loved this book – a wonderful story of Love through the eyes of a shepherd. Lass is a sheepdog who is abused and unloved. Her transformation when she is loved by her master is a picture of our transformation when we receive God’s (our master’s) love.

  • Leave a Reply

    * Required
    ** Your Email is never shared