TO CHEW ON: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
I am a fan of lotion and skin cream. I rub St. Ives Vanilla onto arms, legs and trunk all through the dry-air months of winter. I love to catch the fragrance of orange or almond cream on my hands. I treat itchy insect bites with Calomine and guard against infection by putting Polysporin on nicks and cuts. Psalm 23 is like a lotion psalm to me, with its ability to comfort, soothe, and protect against the irritation of anxiety and the poison of fear.
We can view this psalm in at least two ways. We can read it as praise – a boasting about God and all the ways we have found Him to adequate for all our needs. Or we can read it as a declaration of faith – a psalm of promise. It is in this sense that I have found it most effective as a balm.
When I am in need I claim the promise that He will care for me, to the extent of supplying my physical needs: “I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” His presence can refresh my mind and emotions: “He restores my soul.” When I am confused about direction, I have His promise to “lead me in the paths of righteousness.”
When I anticipate tragedy and death “I will fear no evil; for you are with me.” Though at such times I can expect the instruments of his shepherding (his rod and staff) to inflict pain and limitation, I can be sure that they contribute to my security and comfort.
When I am confronted by enemies “You prepare a table before me.” In other words, instead of dreading embarrassment, I can claim God’s honor.
When I feel insignificant, “You anoint my head with oil” showing me favor and hospitality.
When I’m tempted to look with concern on the future, I remind myself “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
If you’re a seasoned Christian who has had the Lord as your shepherd for a long time, no doubt you’ll be reciting this psalm as praise to God. But if your experience with the Shepherd is limited, and you haven’t yet found these things true in your experience, recite the psalm as a prayer of faith. Let it soothe your soul and butter your spirit.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I love being one of Your sheep. Help me to claim and experience Your shepherding through each incident and season of my life. Amen.
MORE: “Reflections on Psalm 23 – For People With Cancer” is a movie by Ken Curtis.
“Ken Curtis was diagnosed with advanced cancer with little prospect for survival. He pursued a combination of traditional and alternative medicine, undergirded by a strong spiritual dimension and prayer support team.
Psalm 23 was a vital part of his spiritual component, and for this video Curtis went to Israel, home of David and the Psalm, to be with the shepherds, travel "through the valley of the shadow of death," and explore and enjoy the healing powers of the green pastures and still waters. The resulting meditations provide a combination of candid personal experience of what it means to battle cancer and some of the spiritual resources available through this time-honored Psalm…”
This movie is posted full-length (60+ minutes) here (bottom of the page). Whether you have cancer or not - WATCH IT! It will so bless you and give you a new appreciation for this beautiful psalm!!
Keith Green sings “The Lord is My Shepherd”
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.