Comfort in Psalm
This coming Sunday is known as Good Shepherd Sunday.
It is a day we sing hymns about God as Shepherd: The Lord’s My Shepherd; The King of Love My Shepherd Is; Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us. We hear texts about Jesus as the Good Shepherd and how the true shepherd does not desert his flock. And when we read the Psalm, we hear Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want . . . .”
I’ve been wondering: Why does this psalm hold such meaning for us? Rarely have I led a funeral service where Psalm 23 wasn’t one of the readings. Why is it so comforting? Most of us have never met a shepherd and yet this image resonates deeply. We are comforted by the Psalm; and yet, it contains these discomforting reminder words of our mortality: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” And it carries the reminder that the Shepherd doesn’t use just a staff but also a rod – not the same thing. We like the staff with its crook, like the crook of an arm to lie within. A rod is a different instrument – it’s used for discipline and for beating away that which endangers us. And of course, it begins with the prayer? The promise? The plea? -- “I shall NOT want.” Surely, most of us feel convicted by that line since there is so much we often do want.
I have my own thoughts as to why this psalm is comforting to people, but before I share that next week, why do you find it comforting? Or maybe you don’t and if not, why is that?
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