thoughts on psalm 23

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[A Psalm of David.]

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.

“Millions of people have memorized this psalm, even those who have learned few other Scripture portions. Ministers have used it to comfort people who are going through severe personal trials, suffering illness, or dying. For some, the words of this psalm have been the last they have ever uttered in life.” (Boice)
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I am currently working my way through Psalms. It never ceases to amaze me how each time I study and read scripture I am offered new insights…maybe it is a little like each time I eat good bread or drink water or wine when thirsty I am refreshed anew. While I am not going to do a comprehensive commentary on Psalm 32 – I will offer 3 thoughts…1) David probably wrote this when he was king – but he had no problem remembering his humbler roots. In fact, God used Davids time as a shepherd to help him understand timeless and deep spiritual truths in ways that would not only prepare him for the national stage – but also give him poetic imagery that would last a life time. 2) This psalm may be one of the most famous of all in the bible, and potentially the most famous and enduring “lyric” ever. I don’t doubt David was inspired when he wrote it, but I would hesitate to think that he knew the far reaching impact of these words. It is so wonderful that the Lord allows us to co-create. Indeed, we are more “finders” than “creators” (at least that is the view of most honest artists). Can you imagine writing a lyric that would be often the final consoling words to one leaving life on earth? 3) Psalm 23:4 is dark – but hopeful. I find the words “through the shadow of the valley of death” to be a strong prophetic fyi. It is only the shadow – as death itself has been conquered by Jesus Christ. The valley is low, and I have had dreams of things experienced and met there, yet “I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”. We may feel hedged in by evil, overcome and threatened by evil, but Christ is with us…just keep walking “through”. Some interpret this to mean life now on earth under deaths shadow. Either way we have Christs presence and the rod/staff to help maneuver and protect on our journey. Certainly a psalm worth memorizing.

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