A fresh look at Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
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 have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  (NASB)

As you can tell, from the last few posts, I can also relate to 2 Cor 4:6-10, quoting 2 Cor 4:7-10

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;

persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Today, I drove the day car (OK, for those not familiar, my day car is the car that the possibly skeevy mechanic on commission at the place that had $10 off an oil change said was a death trap.  It is my day car, similar to having a winter car, because my other car has a headlight that has a short or something in it, because sometimes it is on and sometimes not.  And I can’t afford the tickets, and I really need to order the parts and fix it, if other things ever settle down.”  But the headlight isn’t the only thing wrong with that car, Sunday it threw a “Check Oil Level” message, and I found that the oil was 2 quarts down.  And it has a slow leak in one front tire that hasn’t been able to be fixed yet, though I have tried, and so I have to pump it up every 2 days.)

But, the two passages do go together.  The place to start is by asking, what does He do “for His name’s sake”?

At first, I thought that it was just leading us in paths of righteousness.  That is what my religious upbringing taught me at least from the cadence of reading it.

But Holy Spirit stopped me as I was reading it, and asked that question “What does He do for His name’s sake”?

As I looked, I saw the compassionate care of a father, providing for his child, walking with him, being close when things got scary, vindicating, including making any bullies watch while abundance and tenderness are showered on the child.  And doing this consistently, day in and day out, so that the child has confidence that it will always be so.

So, I answered, The Father is kind, for His name’s sake, and all verses point to that kindness.  Still “He leads me in paths of righteousness” does still stand out a little.  But, it is one that speaks fellowship to me a little louder than the rest, because a path is not over quickly, like a meal.

So, how does it relate to 2 Cor 4:6-10, well, not easily, at first.  The phrase “perfect love” in 1 John 4:18 “… Perfect love casts out fear …” can be translated as “Love which has run its course”.   At the beginning, we have real fears that our Father will fail us.  I am afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.  I need His mercy and grace to believe in His love, even when I don’t see it.  Goodness and lovingkindness are following me.

PS  The first time that someone called my attention to The Father walking me through the valley of the shadow of death was when I had my first angiogram.  “This isn’t death” he said “This is only the shadow of death”.  I miss you Willie Jones!