Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Psalm 23 (NRSV)
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.
I could tell when the woman approached me after a worship service in which I gave the sermon that there was something on her mind. She had her Bible open and I thought to myself, “Uh-oh, what have I said wrong now!” But she wasn’t that sort of critic. Her Bible was open to the Twenty-third Psalm. “I’ve noticed something,” she said. “After all these years, I’ve just realized that Psalm 23 seems to go back and forth, first speaking of the Lord in the third person, then addressing the Lord directly. What do you make of that?”
I’d memorized that psalm as a youngster, and used it in messages as a pastor many times. While I was dimly aware of this shift in the psalm, I don’t think I’d ever reflected on it as sharply as she posed the question. But almost without thinking I replied: “The first part of the psalm is praise, and the second part is the writer’s prayer.” She seemed satisfied with that off-the-cuff response. In thinking about it further since, I still believe there’s something to it. In fact, for us as people of faith, praise of the Lord and prayer go hand in hand.
Thank you, Lord, for being the Good Shepherd. Your guidance, protection, provision, and mercy bring the assurance of a continual dwelling place with you. Amen.
Go with God.