THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
These words imply that I live in an unpredictable, frightening, and even cruel world where bad things can happen to me.
These words imply that in this life I will need a shepherd.
I will need God to come and find me when I have lost my way.
I will need God to comfort me when my grief is too great to bear.
I will need God to encourage me when I am devastated.
I will need God to protect me from others and from myself.
I will need God to know my name when I feel all alone.
I SHALL NOT WANT
Because the Lord is my shepherd – I shall lack for nothing.
Because the Lord is my shepherd – I have everything that I need.
Because the Lord is my shepherd – His grace fills in the empty spaces in my life:
· The dreams that never came true –
· The goals that were never achieved –
· The people I have lost and never stop missing –
· Those times when not one other person can understand the ache in my soul.
HE MAKES ME TO LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES
I instinctively retreat outside to feel His presence.
My soul craves the colors of the sky and the trees and the flowers.
The company of his creation calms my spirit.
HE LEADS ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS
As water keeps my body alive, God leads me to that which sustains my life and my soul.
He stills the chaos in my life as Christ stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
God’s stillness makes the world livable and melts away my anxious fears.
HE RESTORES MY SOUL
When I am so busy that I neglect my soul – God restores me.
When I am so beaten up by the world that my soul feels lost – God restores me.
When I selfishly repress the spirit God has given me – God restores me.
When my soul is so diminished by my own sin that it seems it is almost gone, by His grace and through my confession and repentance – God restores me.
HE GUIDES ME IN STRAIGHT PATHS FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE
I learn to trust the path that God shows me
Even if I wander in a round about way, He will bring me back to that straight path, and I will end up going in the right direction.
As I walk my path in trust; others may be drawn to Him as they witness His faithfulness to me.
God’s name will be glorified.
THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHAWDOW OF DEATH
I know this shadow.
I fear death, but the remedy to this fear is that I am never alone, especially at death.
Knowing death is so hard for me; God shared it and experienced it for himself in the worst way.
When I lose someone I love, this valley is one I must walk through.
It is not meant to be my permanent home, and I dishonor God’s plan to go through the shadow when I refuse to walk with Him.
Even if I am crushed by life, I cannot stay in this seductive shadow where it is hard to leave, but impossible to live.
I walk through the valley with the Shepherd.
I WILL FEAR NO EVIL
This means evil is a reality.
This means that I will face it.
Because I am a Christian I am not exempt, actually I may be even more confronted with evil.
The promise is that God is real and He is with me.
He is on my side and that makes all the difference.
I am protected from evil.
Light always overcomes darkness.
Good always overcomes bad.
I have nothing to fear – God is with me.
THY ROD AND THY STAFF, THEY COMFORT ME
The shepherd’s staff of God helps, supports, and disciplines me.
It gives me strength and help when I fall, and corrects my path when I stray.
The rod and staff holds me accountable and reminds me that some behaviors dishonor God’s spirit and are toxic to my soul.
It comforts me to have the surety that I am supported so that my soul is not diminished, and God is not dishonored.
The shepherd’s rod gives me assurance that God does provide justice in the world and that ultimately evil does not win.
THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES
In contrast to the people around me who have disappointed me, turned against me, even tried to destroy me, You, Father, prepare a feast of blessing and love and joy for me.
Your banquet of blessings is so much more nourishing than anything negative my enemies prepare for me, that I can move on in my life strengthened by your abundance, not weakened by cruelty or disappointment.
THOU ANNOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL
As ancient kings were identified as the ones chosen and set apart to serve your people by the anointing with oil, so have you anointed me to serve you.
By accepting your anointing, I also must accept the responsibility that comes with such a special gift.
Help me to live up to the calling you have blessed me with.
Remind me of my task when the world distracts me.
Remind me of my joy when I am discouraged.
Remind me of your presence when I feel alone.
Let me put my hand on my head and touch again the oil of your anointing when my responsibility to serve you overwhelms my soul.
MY CUP RUNNETH OVER
My basic response to your grace is gratitude.
My thankfulness for God’s blessing is rooted in the sense that life is a gift and that all good things come from God.
For all the blessings you pour in my cup, Father, I thank you, even for those gifts I never recognize.
I thank you because life is often hard – you have blessed me with all I need, you have restored my soul over and over, you have guided my path, you have held my hand and walked me through dark valleys, you have protected and corrected me, you have prepared a feast of blessings to nourish my soul and you have called me to know and serve you. Truly the cup of my heart cannot hold all these gifts.
SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE
Because you are shepherding my life, I will feel good about living.
I will recognize your goodness everywhere – in your creation, in your protection and blessings, in your provision.
Every place I turn, I will see your goodness.
Because you are shepherding my life I will recognize your mercy everywhere in your forgiveness, in your discipline, in my unearned love from you.
Every place I turn, I will see your mercy.
Because you are shepherding my life, I will leave behind me goodness and mercy.
It will follow me
· as I stop wanting and start giving
· as I take care of your world
· as I accept your stillness
· as you restore my soul
· as I travel along the straight path
· as I live out my calling to your work
· as I trust you to protect me from evil and enemies and the dark, shadowy valleys of life
· as I acknowledge your abundant blessings…
I will leave behind me a trail of YOUR goodness and mercy.
You will bless others through me and the shepherd will be glorified.
AND I SHALL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER
God’s promise to me is not immunity from this world full of struggles with hurtful people or fear or my own spiritual battles – even death.
God’s promise to me is a home – HIS HOME FOREVER!
No wandering aimlessly, no loneliness, no solitary battles, no unfulfilled needs…
He shares with me His Home – where there is:
· No want
· Green pastures
· Still waters
· Straight paths
· Abundant blessing
The presence of the Holy, Almighty God – My Creator, My Savior, My Sustainer
(Some thoughts for Psalms 23 from reading Harold Kuschner)