PSALM 23=A PSALM OF TRUST
Bible Background: Psalm 23 (like Psalm 4, 11, 27, 46, 131) is a “psalm of trust”. The situation of the psalmist may be dire, and yet the person affirms their trust in the Lord. Psalm 23 is a favorite psalm for many people. If you know the stories of King David’s life and all his ups and downs, you could read it as an example of expressing trust in God. Read against the stories of our modern world, you can read it as an invitation to be counter-cultural!
Digging Deeper: 1. Psalm 23 evokes many images with just a few words: shepherd, green pastures, still waters, restores, leads me, right paths, dark valley, table, enemies, cup, goodness, mercy… Which image(s) speak to you? How does this help you picture your relationship with the Lord?
2. “I shall not want” is a way of saying: “with God, I lack nothing!” Our consumer culture exists to always make us ‘want’ something more, and to be dissatisfied with what we have! But if we’ve “Got God” and know that “God has us”, isn’t it true we have much of what we need most?
3. Notice the verbs in here: “leads, makes me lie down, restores, leads me, walk, fear no evil, are with me”. Life and faith are journeys. There is no stopping, though God provides time for rest and refreshment! And the journey is not always easy! But we journey with our Good Shepherd-who promises us elsewhere to never leave us!
4. “Paths of righteousness/right pathways for his name’s sake”. The world would not automatically steer us down ‘right’ paths! When we are guided in right ways for God’s sake, we are living counter-culturally also! The world might not understand this, and might even laugh at us for this. But we are guided by a calling to be God’s own, holy, loving, trusting, serving people!
5. “Goodness and mercy shall follow me…” The Hebrew verb here is stronger than ‘follow’. It’s normally translated “pursue!” What does it mean to you that the Lord’s goodness and mercy don’t just tag along with us, but pursue us?
6. How does this psalm help strengthen your trust in God? How can these words be words to live by? How can you share the spirit and message of these rich words?
For next week, read and pray Psalm 30, a psalm of Thanks.