Psalm 23 (NRSV)
Verse 1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Verse 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
Verse 3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
Verse 4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
Verse 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Verse 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Part of what makes this psalm so poignant is that the psalmist is describing ordinary circumstances of life. For sheep, nothing could be more ordinary than pastures and waters. For people, there isn’t much more ordinary than a table set for a meal.
But there’s a little more to it, isn’t there? These pastures are especially green, and the water is still and calm. The table is spread in the presence of enemies, who have been vanquished. These might be ordinary circumstances in a general sense, but they’re the best possible version of those circumstances, because they’re lived in the presence and care of God.
God is the one leading these precious sheep to the best pastures and waters, and God is the one preparing a feast for God’s own people. God’s never-failing care is what allows us to let go of fear and live in the certainty that God’s goodness and mercy shall indeed follow us forever.
Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, you care tenderly for each of your precious people. Lead us to safety in the shelter of your care, and help us to rest in your never-failing goodness, that we may sing your praise forevermore. Amen.