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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, May 14, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
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 anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long. (NRSV)

Reflection
I was seven or eight years old when my Sunday School class began memorizing Bible verses, including Psalm 23 and Psalm 100; the lyrical beauty of the psalms made them easier to memorize and rewarding to repeat. At that age, though, I didn’t realize how deeply the words could weave themselves into our lives—at least until one summer evening a year or so later, as I headed home from my friend’s house. The walk was easy: leave her yard, cross another friend’s yard, follow a path through an area we called the woods, and then cross the open field to the back door of our house. On that particular evening, dusk had arrived earlier than expected, and suddenly the woods looked foreboding. I wasn’t sure if I should—or even could—cross that dark pathway. Turning back wasn’t an option; the only certainty was the falling darkness. And fear.

That’s when Psalm 23 came to me. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” I began, stepping into the dark woods. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Gaining confidence, I repeated, more than once, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me!” And then I cleared the woods, repeating the rest of the psalm, “Surely goodness and mercy . . . ,” grateful for God’s presence on my walk home.

Life brings us experiences we must face on our own, yet we are never truly alone.
Psalm 23 is a statement of trust: our trust in God, and the promise of God’s presence across the arc of our lives. Ultimately, this psalm brings us home, reminding us that no matter where life’s journey takes us, in the end, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Prayer
Good Shepherd of eternal life, help us live our lives with the confidence that our paths lead to you. May we use that assurance to express your grace in the world. Amen.

Written by Sarah Forbes Orwig, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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