Scripture: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I will fear NO evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff…they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord…forever. (Ps 23 complete)
Observation: Is this a reflective psalm or a triumphal psalm? Is it to be spoken at funerals or at sending someone off to war? Is it speaking hope to the hopeless or confirming hope to the hopeful?
Analysis: I have heard pastors and such making sure that Psalm 23 is included into the funeral script…and then spoken sonorously, gravely, with dirge-like passion or gravitas, so that it is instantly recognized as a funeral scripture—It is just what you say at the graveside.
But is it? Is that all this Psalm is good for? When I try to say it with other inflections, or pull it apart into component parts—is it really a benediction from God the way we think it is?
I think this can be triumphal in the way I praise and can extol His Grace:
- You, O Lord, care for me, lead me, give guidance to me.
- I will receive all that I need from you.
- You bring me peace, no matter what is roiling about me.
- You restore me.
- You lead me in Your ways, in the path of righteousness, even through the threat of death—I will fear no evil because of Your presence in my life and my surroundings.
- You use instruments of Grace to guide me: Your rod and staff are instruments of your loving discipline.
And I recognize that this will continue all the days of my life until the end of my days. Not one day will pass without me knowing Your Love and Mercy.
I think not only did David write this for himself, but possibly could have taught it to his troops
Shall I not sing this to my own heart?
Prayer: Father, it is amazing and puzzling to me to see how tradition places certain verses into buckets, like Psalms 23 is placed. There must have been a reason way back when.
Continue to prod and poke me to turn over scriptures in my mind and my mouth so see if there is a more reasonable way to understand but stay true to the Doctrines of Grace.
Ricky Two Shoes