Since I got up this morning I have been trying to figure out a new approach to this psalm passage. This psalm has capture the attention and the imagination/imagery of countless people. I do not know if there is any unique approach possible. In all the years I have been writing scriptural reflections I feel like I have been re-trodding familiar ground. And yet, there is no real reason to try to come up with something different. One of the reasons this psalm is so popular is because it is so straightforward. So if some of what I say sounds familiar, take comfort in knowing that these are well established truths.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
When the Lord is with us, we may not get everything we want or need. But in terms of comfort and support in whatever our life circumstances, the Lord provides. Maybe the psalmist was being overly optimistic. But peace and contentment of the spirit and soul are priceless.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.”
The psalmist, it seems, prizes these things above material possessions. And I will not say that writer is wrong. We, humanity, acquire things in all shapes and sizes; excesses and necessities. We all have our own ideas of what we absolutely need, what we would like, and what we can do without. But peace of mind, spirit, and soul are so essential. And these are the things that the Lord provides.
“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.”
Again, going through life without fear. Priceless! Have confidence in every situation and circumstance means that you can act as the Lord would have you act. And having the Lord’s comfort around you means you are invulnerable to all the world throws at you.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
And the world knows that you are protected and beloved. If I can take this idea further, those who also follow the Lord are seated at the table of the Lord, so we have companionship for the journey through this life. And the promise of continued fellowship in the world to come.
“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.”
The psalmist. I think, does not mean just heaven. When we have the Lord as our Shepherd all of our days on earth are lived being within the fold of the Lord. Despite what the world might hold, we are safe within the Lord’s sight. Goodness and mercy are with us, we are seen as the Lord’s beloved, we walk without fear in this life, and we are lead in good directions. We are blessed! Selah!