The Psalms were originally meant to be sung – in fact they were written as words to songs. It is with this knowledge that we can “enter into the Psalms” and try to listen to the rhythms of these beautiful writings.
Hidden within Psalm 23, lies beautiful imagery of the Lord as our Shepherd; tending and caring for his sheep. The Psalmist writes of the Divine Shepherd guiding, protecting, and nourishing him. When I read this Psalm I do not think of death – but life – a comfort in times of trouble – a reminder of God’s unfailing love and care for us.
Today, during these present trials, this Psalm gives us the assurance that even in the darkest of valleys, during times of sickness and loss, fears of the unknown, we have a Good Shepherd who will comfort and guide us out of our darkness…and lead us besides still waters – he will bring us to a place of peace.
Still waters are waters that have very little current flow – sometimes they can appear static and yet there is of course hidden movement within – much like the movement of the Holy Spirit working in us…and the grace hidden in the “waters of baptism”…that restore us…
I have read that sheep, by nature, are frightened by running water. They become fearful, and so we see the importance of the “still waters.” Beside still waters, the sheep will be peaceful and calm and can then graze and be nourished by the green pastures. It is essential that we too, like sheep, have a source of fresh water…water is necessary for life.
The Psalmists’ paints a picture of green pastures and life-giving water which brings to mind a scene of rich vegetation, lush valleys, and sparkling water – a vision of paradise – a place of rest. If we seek the Good Shepherd, he will guide us along the right path, and we will hear his voice in the darkest of valleys. He leads us to the green pastures of his Word, and his rod and staff will guide us …all the days of our lives…
A Psalm of David.
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 right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I 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
my whole life long.