The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
The 23rd Psalm is the most well known of all the psalms. For so many, Psalm 23 is the scripture that reflects loss of life and in life’s most challenging moments. Particularly during days of grief, we hear this psalm being repeated. Perhaps this is especially because in verses like Ps. 23:4, we hear “the valley of the shadow of death,” that we are reminded of our fears of death and dying. When I concentrate on these words, I remember the fear that is sometimes revealed in the shadows. My concern is that for some people, this psalm only marks their grief. So let’s not get stuck in the shadows!
Furthermore, by reading each line and through various versions of Psalm 23, perhaps we may hear a fresh perspective. Although in my head, I often hear the King James Version, the Common English Bible instead uses the words “in the darkest valley.” With many different translations, we may feel inspired to rethink God’s message and meaning for our lives.
By thinking about each line, I remember that Our Lord is not just our walking companion. God is guiding us and taking on our every challenge. Through Psalm 23, I am further impacted by the imagery of resting with God –throughout all of life. I remember all the encompassing ways that God is not only our protector, but also our helper and our Great Comforter. Surely God is with us for all challenges, but God is also celebrating us and intimately preparing a unique way for us. Today and always, God is with us, so much so that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Look up several different versions of Psalm 23 and read these line by line. What lines stick out to you? How has your perspective changed? Say the 23rd Psalm as your own prayer or rewrite it with fresh eyes.
Prayer: Gracious God, Thank you for the words of the 23rd Psalm. Help us to always see your ways and words with fresh eyes that draw us closer to you. Thank you for loving us, however and wherever we are, today and always. May we continue to be comforted and find rest through your words and wonders. Amen.