Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Bible Study: The Lord is My Shepherd

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

By Zina Leone

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Jesus Our Lord

Jesus Our Lord

Does the 23rd Psalm remind you of death and funerals? It should, because it’s one of the most common passages of the Bible recited at funerals. Maybe it’s the thought our loved ones “walking through the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil” that brings so much comfort. Indeed, this thought is very comforting, but somehow when I read it I don’t think of death at all, but of life.

Our life here is a journey and sometimes we must travel through rough terrain and dark valleys. Sometimes those dark valleys can be so difficult we feel as if we’re traveling through the very “shadow of death.” This is because when we’re faced with trials and tribulation we usually feel so apart from God. Some call it “the dark night of the soul” and it truly is. But the 23rd Psalm is a reminder to us to “fear no evil” because Jesus is always there to give us direction and guidance, no matter how dark it may seem. He is there beside us and “His rod and His staff will comfort us.

In the Bible, Jesus is often referred to as a shepherd and we as His sheep. He watches over us the same way a shepherd watches over his flock. A shepherd always carries a rod to clear away rocks or anything in the way that could possibly harm his sheep. Sometimes he might even use it against wild animals that threaten his flock. The staff he carries has a crook on the end of it and is often used to steer wandering sheep back to the flock. Sometimes it might be used to rescue a lamb that has fallen in a crevice or gotten itself stuck in some bushes. When we think of Jesus as our shepherd, keeping harm away from us, it’s certainly a very comforting thought. We don’t even know how many times He may have used His rod to push Satan away from us. And how comforting it is to know His staff is always ready to guide us back to His fold when we have strayed.

God provides for us and gives all we need. Sometimes we have trouble believing that because our idea of what we need is usually completely different than His. Have you ever wanted something really bad and prayed and prayed, but it didn’t seem like He was listening? He’s listening, but He doesn’t always give us what we want because He knows better than we do what’s good for us. We need to learn to accept whatever it is He wants for us and trust it is for our good. “We shall not want” for anything we need.

Life can be hectic at times and we feel as if we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. Traveling through dark valleys can really tear us apart both physically and mentally. It’s very important for us to try to set aside a time for prayer and meditation. As we shut out the world and try not to think about our problems “He will make us to lie down in green pastures and lead us beside the still waters.” As we do this more and more “He will restore our souls and lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

In the midst of all our troubles and all the evil influences of the world, He is always there beside us. “He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.” His Spirit of love and compassion envelopes us as “He anoints our heads with oil. Our cups runneth over.” When we follow Him He assures us “goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives,” and when our journey here has finally ended “we will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

This is what I see when I read the 23rd Psalm, a step-by-step guide in all areas of our lives. Maybe my view of it is kind of like the adage, a cup half-empty vs. a cup half-full. While some people seem to only associate it with the comfort it brings in death, I am so thankful for the comfort it brings in life.


Zina Leone is freelance writer and photographer living in southeastern Pennsylvania. She started out in high school, writing articles and poems for the school newspaper and has continued to write about life experiences, opinions, short stories, essays and poems. She published her first book, a storybook for her grandson in 2007 and has recently been chosen to publish an article in a new book coming out in the Fall, Hope Whispers.

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