Author Robert Morgan wrote the book, The Lord is my Shepherd, after studying Psalm 23 for many, many years. He has preached and talked through it many times. He has also read everything that he could find on the 23rd psalm.
The single, biggest insight that Robert had ever gained into helping to understand the meaning of this psalm was found in another biblical text - Genesis 37.
This is the story of Jacob sending his son Joseph to find the rest of his brothers who were sheep herders. They had left their home near Bethlehem, in the south of Judah, migrating with their flocks up into the lower areas of Galilee. When you trace this on a bible map, you will see a migration of about 100 miles from the south to the north because of the changing of the seasons.
As Robert studied this more carefully, he realized that from the days of Jacob and Joseph to the days of King David (who himself was a shepherd boy), for a span of a thousand years, the same family has been making the same migratory pattern with the sheep.
Genesis 37 gives us the template for the 23rd psalm. Psalm 23 covers that same circuit.
In the winter, everything is fine down at the father's house, where the pastures are still green. The waters are clear and still.
But in the summer, the water and the grass dries up. So they have to take the right path, or the righteous trails, and begin their annual migration.
Shepherds still do it today. Sheep are migratory animals, but they need to have someone leading them.
There are 6 stages along the way: The Father's house (the starting point), the right paths, dark valley and canyons (valley of the shadow of death), tablelands, right paths, back to home.