4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[d]
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[e] goodness and mercy[f] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.[g]
Psalm 23 (NRSV)
The Shepherd’s Psalm. Many of us memorized it as children. We carry its words with us in dark times. Perhaps we don’t remember it word for word. Yet, we know the phrases that hold meaning for us.
“I shall not want.” What would you want for if it wasn’t for the shepherd?
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” (KJV) We need those words when a friend or loved one dies. There are also times in our life when we feel as if death’s dark shadow will overwhelm us at any moment. The Psalmist reminds us that even in these moments, the shepherd won’t abandon.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…” Follow me. Lead me. Cover me. Goodness and mercy is everywhere we can possibly be, because the shepherd never abandons.
What phrases stand out for you? Read the Psalm again, slowly. Read it out loud and listen to the phrases. What stands out for you? Close your eyes for a few moments and consider those particular words. Why do they hold meaning for you at this time and in this place?
Read through it again. Slowly. What is the Shepherd saying to you? Sit quietly for a few minutes. Allow the words to speak to you.
Now, one more time. One more reading.
If you were able to go deep, you’ve experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit speaking to you words you probably needed to hear. Were they comforting words? Guiding words? Stirring words?
What will you do with what you’ve discerned? How will you respond? Write it down and carry it with you this week.
The 23rd Psalm provides peace and comfort, even serenity. It’s words can be trusted and believed. The Shepherd doesn’t let us down, but provides for our needs and gives us rest when we need it. Believe these words. Rest in them. Feel their comfort. And when you’re ready, go out to live your faith, knowing the shepherd won’t let you down.
All glory and honor be to God.