Part of my Bible reading this morning was Psalm 23 – “the Shepherd’s Psalm” – probably the best known of all the Psalms in the Bible. One of the risks we face in such well-known passages when we read them is to say to ourselves, “Oh, I know that passage – I can say it from memory!” and then just fly by them and not engage our mind or heart! So my advice to my students in Bible Study, a course I have taught for a long, long time here at SAGU, is SLOW DOWN! Ponder and reflect on each phrase! Practice INNOCENCE OF EYE (in other words, try to see the passage as though you were reading it for the very first time)! Perhaps read it from a version of the Bible you’ve not read it from before.
With that in mind, my wife, Sharon, during her devotions this morning, said to me… “Honey, would you like me to read it to you? Listen to it from the New Living Translation!” It was really good! So here it is from that translation for you (along with a few of my summarizing thoughts at the end)…
“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” (From the New Living Translation)
What kind of person is like a Bedouin shepherd to his sheep? Could we use the word “leader, mentor, care giver?” Would that be a cultural equivalent of “shepherd” for us? Maybe you have another idea that is better…
Here’s what I jotted in the margin of my Bible this morning…
- The Lord provides and supplies every need! (vss. 1-3a)
- He, leads and guides me every day… all the way! (vs. 3b)
- I depend on his continual presence and protection – especially through the darkest hours of my life! (vs. 4)
- He cares for me and meets every need I have! (vs. 5)
- And finally, vs. 6 summarizes my confidence in His leadership and care! “His goodness and unfailing love will PURSUE me all the days of my life, and I will [ultimately] live in His house forever!” (Check out John 14:1-3)
Come on! Savor that Psalm like a delicious morsel of food or a delightful piece of candy! Roll it over and over on your spiritual tongue. Let it delight and nourish your soul! Enjoy! Enjoy!! Enjoy!!!