Reflections on Psalm 23
Elizabeth McDonald of Seaside, OR, USA
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind-just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you-so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. -1 Corinthians 1:4-8
Recently one of my young friends told me that he had a hard time relating to Psalm 23, or any of the other psalms. Because the area that we live in is no longer largely agricultural, it was hard for him to find meaning in writings about sheep. It caused me to ask myself how I related to this psalm. Where did I find meaning in its verses? I grew up in a farming community and in a family that enjoyed farming and gardening, so I understood the pastoral descriptions. Yet I felt I needed to dig deeper.
I spent several days reflecting on Psalm 23 and writing my thoughts. Finally, I wrote the following paraphrase. It doesn’t answer the question of how to relate to the psalm in a suburban world, but it is a reflection from my own soul.
With God as the shepherd of my life,
I will lack nothing I truly need.
He will lead me to places green and lush with nourishment,
And invite me to rest beside quiet waters and drink contentedly.
God invites me to follow Him in sacred companionship
On a path of servanthood and holy joy.
At times the path is steep and rocky;
Darkness encroaches among steep canyon walls.
But I will lay aside my fears
And trust in the One who holds my hand,
Who gives me strength and courage
To walk into the light.
Faced with my enemies of fear, doubt and depression,
I see before me a table spread with a banquet
And know once again
That God will always provide more than I ask.
I bow my head and feel warm oil flowing over,
And dripping down to cover the aching places
On my body; in my heart.
As my soul fills and overflows in praise,
I affirm that goodness and love always abound.
I know I will ever have a home
Wherever and with whomever God resides.
Wherever I am, God is here.
Breathe deeply and prayerfully consider the story you have just read. What is the Spirit’s invitation to you in these words? What does it look like to wake up to God’s presence in this moment?
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