When I recite the 23rd psalm, am I saying that the L-rd is MY shepherd or am I just remembering that the L-rd was David’s shepherd? Does the psalm apply to everyone or is it just an account of David’s personal relationship with G-d?
The answer is: both! Your question and the answer are true regarding much of Tehilim (Psalms) and in fact, much of the Tanach, whose beauty is in that David and the other Divinely inspired writers wrote regarding contemporary issues, but their words apply and resonate for coming generations as well. Whatever one’s mood, he can find a chapter in Tehilim which not only expresses it, but helps convey that feeling to deepen his personal relationship with G-d. In addition, part of being an Eternal People means that Israel has already experienced just about everything, and are meant to search and find a precedent in the Eternal Book, the Tanach, directing us how to act and react G-dly, as individuals and as a nation. Our heroes of the Tanach are not just individuals but universal prototypes or models to teach us what to do, and what not to do, to this very day. So yes, G-d is David’s Shepherd, as well as mine, but David puts it much better than I ever could! Rabbi Ari Shvat