Psalm 23 is a favourite for many people and a great source of comfort in troubling times.
Take a moment to read through Psalm 23 slowly and consider…
- Do any of the words or phrases stand out to you?
- What does the psalm mean to you in light of recent events?
- What might it mean for others who are feeling nervous or anxious at this time?
The psalmist declares with great boldness: “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”
That’s an enormously confident statement. It indicates total trust in God’s provision, and a sense of utter contentment and well-being. How many of us could truthfully say that we feel that we ‘lack nothing’ in the situations we face in life, especially when the storms of life are raging around us?
The psalmist tells us exactly where his confidence comes from.
He felt thoroughly equipped for whatever situation he might face in life, not because he had extraordinary strength or ability of his own, but because he trusted in God’s strength and ability to lead him safely through.
Our lives don’t always meander through green pastures or by still waters. The path of life can take us through dark valleys and uncomfortably close to the shadow of death. The present health crisis is understandably making people feel very nervous and anxious. It is shaking the foundations of much that we ordinarily rely on. Psalm 23 points us to the source of all comfort and reminds us to place our trust and reliance in God, who is the solid rock and the firm foundation underpinning our faith.
Psalm 23 also reminds us of the importance of regular rest and refreshing. God made us and he knows that we need rest for our bodies and our minds. We need to rest to avoid physical and mental exhaustion and yet there is an even greater rest on offer through Jesus – the rest that comes from knowing that we don’t have to strive to earn God’s love and favour. It is the rest that Jesus won for us when he went to the cross so that we might forever rest in the grace of God. The rest that comes from knowing that we are totally loved, forgiven and accepted in Christ.
The psalmist acknowledges that dark valleys will come but he goes on to say: “…I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”.
Fear can so easily take a grip on our lives and drag us down, but the greatest antidote to fear is the presence of Jesus. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, makes his home in our hearts by faith and calms our lurking fears by reminding us that he is with us. We might feel inadequate to the situations we face in life but Jesus is more than able to help us navigate safely through the dark valleys and to lead us to green pastures and still waters.
Pause and reflect
Take a moment to read through Psalm 23 again slowly and allow it to become a prayer; your prayer.
Let Jesus speak to you through the words to soothe your soul and calm your fears.
If you have access to a recording of one of the musical settings of Psalm 23 then you might like to listen to it now. Allow the music and words to soak you in the love of God.
When you are ready, declare your response of trust and faith in Jesus:
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”
Thank God for his faithful provision and for the ways he has guided and led you in your life. Thank him that he is with you now and wants to lead you through the challenges that you are facing.
Now spend a few moments praying for others…
- For God’s comfort to embrace those who have lost loved ones
- For God’s peace to surround all who are feeling anxious and fearful
- For God’s protection to shield the elderly and vulnerable
- For God’s presence with the children and young people facing the disruption of school closures and the uncertainty of cancelled exams
- For God’s strength and protection for the NHS and all key workers
- For God’s wisdom and discernment for politicians, leaders and scientists to make wise decisions and take the actions that will benefit everybody
- For God’s protection over countries and peoples who do not have access to such a good health service and where sanitation is often lacking
- For God’s Spirit of unity to inspire us all to do our part and find new ways of building community even when we can’t meet together face-to-face
- For the Good Shepherd to lead us and the presence of Jesus to overflow from us as we seek to worship, witness and encounter Jesus in our daily living and reflect his love to others
As we go into this new week, hold on to God’s promises.
Hold on to all that he has done for you in Christ.
Hold on to Jesus and know that he is with you;
ready and willing to shepherd you through life.
See him in friend and stranger;
and trust in his unending love and provision for you
and for everybody you will meet.
Please explore the “Worship at home” section for more resources.