Psalm 23… revisited

I just came across this paraphrase of Psalm 23 from Max Lucado (who writes great kids books) and just ‘had to’ (you know what it’s like :-)) post it: ‘I am my own shepherd. I am always in need. I stumble from mall to mall, job to job, and shrink to shrink, seeking relief but never finding it. I creep through the valley of the shadow of death and fall apart. I fear everything from pesticides to power lines, and I’m starting to act like my mother. I go down to the weekly staff meeting and am surrounded by my enemies. I go home, and even the goldfish scowls at me. I anoint my headache with extra-strength Tylenol. My Jack Daniel’s runneth over. Surely misery and misfortune will follow me, and I will live in self-doubt for the rest of my lonely life.’ (Max Lucado, Traveling Light (Word Publishing, 2001), 26). Although, strictly speaking, Psalm 23 is not, of course, a lament psalm, like so many of the other psalms, it does acknowledge the chaotic darkness of the world. It invites us to reflect on the reality of walking in such darkness and promises not that we will be spared from it, but that a shepherd-light shines therein, and the darkness has not overcome him. Reading this paraprase of the psalm reminded me of Irenaeus’ invitation for us to see the world through ‘grace healed eyes’. Similarly, I was reminded of the words of Helmut Thielicke who once said, ‘There is no wilderness so desolate in our life that Jesus Christ will not and cannot encounter us there … There is no depth in which this Saviour will not become our brother … He comes for us wherever we are … For that is his majesty.’ (How To Believe Again, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 60.

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