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.
The picture hanging in the bedroom of many Christian baby-boom children was of a gentle-looking shepherd holding a lamb in a verdant pasture. Jesus had delicate feet and sweet eyes in that rendition.
This psalm favorite is more than a sentimental poem that paints a pretty scene. The Shepherd generously provides what is needed, but the still water is soon disturbed by troubles. As the journey through life becomes treacherous, the powerful Shepherd is a strong protector in dark places and against evil. Right in the face of the enemy, the Shepherd is an unapologetic nurturer.
The Lord does not promise an easy life, but God’s powerful presence transforms painful circumstances and dangerous places. Goodness and mercy pursue you, displacing fear and grief and failure. Why would you want to be anywhere other than with this Shepherd? Your life brims over with love in the Lord’s presence.
Faithful Protector, mark clearly the path you intend us to travel. Help us take time for healing rest and the soul restoration you provide. Amen.