Read Psalm 23.
Today, when I opened my Bible to find Psalm 23 staring back at me, it was like finding those green pastures David writes about (v. 2). Just reading these familiar words is like hearing those quiet waters; they’re refreshing my soul (vv. 2–3).
It hasn’t been a bad day, just a busy one. Three small boys at home make quiet moments sparse. In the aftermath of the morning, it’s hard to even walk through the living room without stepping on some jagged toy. As I write this, though, the kids are all enjoying a mandatory nap—or rather, I am enjoying that they’re all in their rooms for a nap. (Judging by the kicking and screaming that occurred when I announced it was time for bed, I’m not sure they’re actually enjoying the break.) But even in this respite, quiet as the house is for the moment, I can almost hear the ticking clock of dinner needing to be made.
But my Bible is open. Psalm 23 is reminding me what it’s like to spend uninterrupted time with the Lord. And I’m here to read, to pray, to listen, and to write.
I love that this psalm is personal. God is not our shepherd or simply the shepherd; No, “the LORD is my shepherd…. He makes me lie down in green pastures,” and “he leads me beside quiet waters” (v. 1–2, emphasis added). Apparently I am the one sheep that wandered away from the fold. The Good Shepherd has left behind the ninety-nine to rescue me (Matthew 18:12), and now, at least for the moment, it’s just Him and me.
I once was lost but now am found. My needs have all been met (Psalm 23:1), and I feel new again in His presence (v. 2). I am on the way to the narrow gate (v. 3; Matthew 7:13), and I will not be afraid of anything between here and there, because He will never leave me nor forsake me (Psalm 23:4; Hebrews 13:5).
The life of a sheep is beautiful and sweet when the Lord is your shepherd, but He does not leave us as sheep. In verse 5, a shift occurs. Suddenly the pastoral landscapes have been replaced with a dining table. The scene is still a personal one, but here God is my protector; I can eat in peace, even while being surrounded by my enemies. And He is my abundant provider, anointing my head with oil and overflowing my cup of wine (v. 5).
And while the blessings of protection and provision are wonderful, they pale in comparison to the blessing of His presence. And so, in the final verse of the psalm, as if God has been saving the best for last, I discover I am not merely God’s dinner guest; “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (v. 6). I have been given a place of permanent residence. My bags are unpacked. I am at home—with my Creator and my Savior, where I was always meant to be.