The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1 KJV
What was it that possessed David, future king of Israel, to write those words? The Lord is MY shepherd. Was it on some night when danger lurked as he shepherded his flock? Had he just chased off wild animals, or found a lamb that had strayed? Could a thief have targeted his sheep, or a ferocious storm roared through the hills, frightening them?
David, thinking of all the ways that God had watched over him, likened God to his own shepherd’s work. Reflecting on the care he gave the flock entrusted to him, he saw the parallel ways that God always stayed by him. His security, peace and joy rested in the assurance, that the Lord was his Shepherd.
Harold Kushner says of the 23rd Psalm, *“Desperately aware of our vulnerability, all too often reminded of our powerlessness when it comes to the things that matter most to us – life, health, being loved, the wellbeing of our families – we crave the reassurance that the guiding spirit of the universe knows us and cares about us.”
When I have trouble sleeping, I pray this psalm. It calms and quiets my spirit, reminding me of who I am and whose I am. Even those who have never been part of a church recognize words so often spoken at funerals, for a grieving family. These familiar words continue to touch our hearts, millennium’s after a sharpened reed first etched them on a scroll. They speak to the intimacy of shepherd and flock, each sheep known by name. Each one cared for. Each one precious. It comes with an assurance that we will never be forgotten, because we belong to our Shepherd God.
* Harold S. Kushner, The Lord is My Shepherd (Anchor Books, 2003) 16
Psalm 23 – Traditional
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23 KJV