Morning Reflection 03/14/12 – Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

1 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 right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I 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 my whole life long.

via Psalm 23 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.

In my experience Psalm 23 is the most requested scripture for funerals. In some cases, it is the only scripture the family knows. Psalm 23 seems to capture the imagination whether religious or not. It is a beautiful psalm of trust.

I find it curious that this psalm is the favorite of so many when most people approach life in a vastly different way. Instead of “not wanting” we want what we want when we want it. If we can’t get what we want, we become frustrated. This psalm describes a contentment from God’s presence that is missing in most lives. Instead of a life of peace in green pastures there is anxious anxiety. Even though there is comfort while walking through the darkest valley, most people only experience despair.

Could it be that this psalm touches us because it reflects a life we desire? I believe so. However, the life it characterizes is one that is built on faith and trust in God. We might desire the life this psalm paints, but it only comes as we follow God through Jesus. Just as you can’t expect grapes from an apple tree, the fruit of a faithful life is contentment, peace, and a sense that we are not alone. For many, a life like this means a total reorientation. It means we allow God to be the source of our living, rather than our own desires and agendas. We have the choice to read about such a life, or turn our lives toward Jesus and experience it.

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