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Devotion: Psalm 23

Psalm 23: So much more than something you stitch on a Pillow

Psalm 23, a passage that has deeply resonated with believers throughout history, offers comfort and assurance. For a long time, I ignored the words of this psalm as overplayed and something you would “stitch on a pillow”. However, it’s so much more than that. As we explore its profound words, we encounter a personal image of God as our Shepherd, guiding and protecting each of us individually. There are a few areas of this passage that I feel we should take a closer look at.

“ 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.”     (Psalm 23:1-3 NRSVUE).

The Hebrew word for “paths” in Psalm 23:3 is ma’aglei, The full phrase is ma’aglei tzedek, which translates to “paths of righteousness.” These paths are understood as well-worn, circular tracks, symbolizing the guidance and direction provided by God. Another English word would be a “rut” carved into roads by carts over time. These ruts were well-defined and ensured that travelers would stay on course. Similarly, our Shepherd places us in His divine ruts, guiding us along and keeping us from going to the left or the right. Just as the sheep follow the ruts laid out by the shepherd, we, too, can trust that God is leading us in the right direction. Even when we can’t see the way forward clearly, we can be confident that God’s guidance is sure and steadfast.

” 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.”   (Psalm 23:4 NRSVUE).

Life inevitably brings moments of darkness and despair, times when we feel like we are walking through the deepest valleys. The “valley of the shadow of death” symbolizes these periods of intense fear and uncertainty. Yet, the psalmist reminds us that we do not walk these paths alone. Our Shepherd is with us, God’s presence providing profound comfort and courage. God’s rod and staff are symbols of God’s unwavering protection and guidance, reassuring us that we are never abandoned, even in our darkest days.

God’s unwavering presence in our lives brings peace and security. When we face trials, we can take heart in knowing that God is with us, leading us through every challenge. God’s love and care are constant, providing us with the strength to keep moving forward.

” 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.”    (Psalm 23:6 NRSVUE).

The promise of God’s goodness and mercy following us all our days is a testament to God’s enduring faithfulness. As we navigate the journey of life, we are enveloped by God’s grace, ensuring that we are never without God’s loving and steadfast presence.

Psalm 23 powerfully reminds us of God’s commitment to us. God is our Shepherd, guiding us along the right paths and staying with us through every valley. Let us hold fast to this truth, finding comfort and encouragement in God’s unfailing love and guidance.