Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd”, is a favorite psalm. A friend recently asked why I thought Psalm 23 is often used at funerals. I replied, “Because it’s comforting to think of Jesus leading someone through the valley of the shadow of death and giving them rest in quiet pastures beside still waters and inviting them to dwell in his house forever.” I said, “The funeral would feel very different if the text was Psalm 22, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
At first glance, the psalms seem to be placed in a random order, but I think there is wisdom in placing Psalm 23 after Psalm 22. After meditating last week on, “Why have you forsaken me, God?”, we are ready this week for the comforts of the Shepherd Psalm. Part of the genius of the psalms is to open our lives to a wider experience of God. If last week was filled with abandonment and despair, perhaps this week God will be present to us as a shepherd. If last week God was a sheepdog nipping at our heels, herding us into the corral of righteousness, perhaps this week he will lead us gently into green pastures, to a table overflowing with food and wine.
Jesus, we walk in a dry desert world. We drink our fill of news and Facebook and movies and meetings and shopping and work and play. But still we are thirsty.
Lead us, good shepherd, beside quiet waters. In silence may we drink from your river.
We walk in a barren world. Our road is littered with plastic and pop cans and broken glass, we walk on asphalt and cement through in a haze of pollution and smoke.
Lead us, good shepherd, to green pastures.
We walk in a noisy world. We hear the sound and fury of sports and advertisements and celebrity gossip and politics and wars. But our souls are empty and wasted.
Restore our souls, good shepherd. Breath into us the breath of life.
We walk in a wasteland of evil. The world, the flesh, and the devil are ever near. “We see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds we hear” (John Bode, hymn O Jesus, I Have Promised).
Lead us, good shepherd, in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.
We walk in a world of sickness and death, in a valley strewn with the wreckage of accidents, natural disasters, cancer, moral failure, and mortality.
Walk with us, good shepherd, in this dark valley. May your rod and your staff comfort us and deliver us from anxiety and fear.
We walk through a land filled with enemies. The world invites us to escape into pleasures of mind and body, to choose philosophies of existentialism and despair, to numb our pain with drugs and music.
Prepare for us a table, good shepherd, in the presence of our enemies. Feed us true food, serve us true wine. Anoint our heads with oil, fill our cups to overflowing.
We walk in a world filled with violence and abuse .
Follow us, good shepherd, with goodness and mercy all the days of our lives, until we dwell in your house forever.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.