By Chaplain James Gutherie
“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 paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will 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 forever.”
– Psalm 23
This is probably one of the best known Psalms contained in Scripture. It is a Psalm used for many occasions including funerals. This Psalm contains many nuggets for us in our current situation today. Our world, our country, and our lives have been turned upside down over the last two months and it seems that the pandemic we have witnessed has affected individuals and families in countless ways, and perhaps your family has been impacted. In these times of uncertainty, frustration and uneasiness, we have the promises of God in Psalm 23 to help us through.
The portion of the psalm that talks about God being our shepherd indicates that we can be in a place of relationship with God. But what does that look like? Relationship with God has many benefits and the Psalmist describes those in detail. Those benefits come to us no matter what circumstances or situations we face. Some of those benefits include being anointed with oil by God – having his Holy Spirit surround us with his peace. Our cup overflowing speaks of abundance and blessing that comes out of relationship with God.
One of the most profound portions of this Psalm speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. One translation says this is walking in places of darkness. It is a comfort to us to know that when we are faced with dark days, such as we live in today, that God is with us, we can fear no evil because he sustains us and his presence resides with us. In those days when we face difficult days, hard days or days that are filled with grief and pain, we can turn to God and allow him to sustain us with his presence in our lives.
Prayer: God of all grace, sustainer of life, defender of those who fear, please remain with us in these uncertain days. Become our shepherd that oversees and cares for us each day. Keep us focused on you and not the circumstances around us. All this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.