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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, May 5, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 23

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. (NRSV)

Long before he was called by God to be the King of Israel, young David was a shepherd boy. No wonder the analogy of a shepherd to his sheep came so naturally to him. One of the most memorized Bible passages, Psalm 23, consists of just 118 words. Like your dearest friend who knows every facet of your being, this psalm is a constant companion on life’s journey from the sunniest morning to the darkest night of the soul. Even upon reading it from the first line, I begin to rest more easily, remembering that we are all loved and cared for, no matter what.

Consider the concrete work of the lowly shepherd: He was never to lose track of any of his sheep—not the ones that habitually wandered off, the ones who (always) lagged behind, or those creatures with wide stubborn streaks. The shepherd and his sheep were inseparable. Living alongside his flock, the shepherd was their everything—physician, provider, guide, and protector. Sheep cannot function without a shepherd, just as Christians look to their God for everything, including protection, guidance, and the strength to seek a righteous path.

Like a good shepherd, the Lord differentiates among each of us, knowing everything that is in our hearts. I experience that sense of a personal relationship every time I pray, and it never ceases to comfort me.

With exquisite imagery, in ways that are simultaneously poetic and concrete, Psalm 23 reassures us that the Lord will provide us with everything we need to live a good life, even protection from those who would do us harm. Not only will we be saved, we will live on to be anointed. No wonder, then, that our cups runneth over.

Creator God, thank you for knowing me, for saving me time and time again from dangerous situations and my own errors in judgment, and for offering a loving “welcome home” when I return to you after losing my way. Amen.

Written by Betsy Storm, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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