Year B – Proper 11 – Psalm 23

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.

SummaryGod made sheep, and rolling, green meadows, and clear, mountain pools, and wise, tender shepherds so that we could know what it’s like to be loved and led by Him.  Being loved and led by God is like being full, having eaten so much of the best grass that you’re ready to lie down in it.  It’s like having your soul refreshed by a deep, cool spring.  It’s like knowing, when you’re in a dark and craggy valley, that you’re there with a shepherd who’s ready to pull you out of danger and beat off wolves, and that you’re in that valley only because he’s leading you through to a glorious meadow on the other side.  It’s like having a king’s feast spread out for you while your enemies look on.

Insight Do you remember, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Lucy reads in the magician’s book a “Story for the Refreshing of the Soul”?  I think Psalm 23 is something like that.  God could have simply said, “I love and lead you;” but, apparently, that didn’t cut it, in His opinion.  You aren’t supposed to boil Psalm 23 down to a lesson, like, “I should remember that God loves and leads me”—no, you’re supposed to sit back, relax, and imagine it.  Put yourself in it.  Experience it.  Psalm 23 has a way of giving you a taste of what it talks about.

Child Catechism
Q:  Why will you not lack?
A:  Because the Lord is my shepherd.

DiscussionWhy would a shepherd lead his sheep through the valley of the shadow of death?

PrayerLord, You are our shepherd—we will lack nothing that is best for us.  You make us to lie down in green pastures.  You lead us beside still waters.  You refresh our souls.  You lead us in paths of righteousness, and You do that for Your own Name’s sake.  Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for You are with us—Your rod and Your staff comfort us.  You prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  You anoint our heads with oil; our cup overflows.  Your goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in Your house forever.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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