The Lord is my Shepherd
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, I will 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 your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23 may be one of the most well know passages of Scripture in the entire Bible. At the very least it is one of the most well known psalms.
Words from this passage have been recited in cathedrals, dropped into hip hop anthems, contemplated on the side of mountains, and inscribed on epitaphs. This isn’t because the words have been misconstrued or irresponsibly misused but rather because the words are deep and meaningful and profound.
Sometimes when we’re not okay we find ourselves unclear about what we need to feel taken care of. We might have some ideas but be slow in our motivation to put them into practice. Other times we try to take a step forward but then hit a wall and end up stumbling a few steps backwards. Other times we don’t even know what to do or where to start.
In Psalm 23 the writer is revealing to us what seems to be a reflection of faith that emphasizes the ways God cares for us when we feel as if we can no longer care for ourselves.
Dedicate some time this week to slowly reading through Psalm 23 each day. Start each day with a few minutes of silence and focused breathing and invite Jesus to make you fully aware of his presence. Savour the words as you slowly read the passage and note any words, phrases or ideas that speak to you. Then prayerfully reflect, journal, and perhaps even discuss with others the prompts given for each day below.
Day 1 (Verse 1)
- Shepherd is a name given to God for the ways he takes care of us. What other names do you have for God and what do they reveal about his heart? Character? Personhood?
- How have you recognized God being your Shepherd? How is he leading you? Protecting you? Caring for you?
- “I lack nothing” is a powerful statement. Is this easy or difficult for you to say? Why or why not?
Day 2 (Verse 2)
- How has God offered you rest? What does the phrase “finding rest in God” mean to you?
- When is the last time you had a good nap or a solid night of sleep? What role might physical rest play in your pursuit of spiritual rest in God?
Day 3 (Verse 3)
- How does your soul feel today? How is the state of your mind and body connected your awareness of the state of your soul? Does your soul feel fresh and bright? Dry and dusty? Dark and lonely?
- What is God doing to refresh your soul today?
Day 4 (Verse 4)
- The writer admits that he is in a valley of darkness. He claims to “fear no evil” which implies that there is evil, danger, and mystery that surrounds his in the shadows of this dark valley. There are enemies around us, threats to our well-being, uncertainty of all types in our lives. Are danger, threats, and evil something you feel creeping in on you frequently? Are you in a season where the valley is deep and the darkness is pressing in on you? Who have you spoken to about this? Who would be helpful to you in this season?
- What does it mean to “fear no evil, for you are with me”? How does God remind you that he hasn’t left you to walk alone through the valleys?
Day 5 (Verses 5-6)
- God delights in you and his love motivates him to bless you in extravagant ways. It doesn’t always feel like this, but there is hope in this promise that even though this life is loaded with challenges a day will come when we know nothing but his presence, closeness. According to these verses it sounds like that is going to be one incredible and never-ending party. Get creative and imagine what this party will be like. What kind of feelings are conjured up within you? What joy do you feel? What excitement do you have? How does this shape the perspective on your current situation in light of what we will experience one day?
- Pray Psalm 23 back to God. Use language that is familiar and comfortable to you and try to avoid clichés.