The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
4 Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.
Safety: this is the first word that seizes my thoughts after reading Psalm 23. The soft rhythm produces a sense of stillness––an inability to do anything but breathe a soft sigh. How many times have we read through this psalm without heralding its true meaning?
It has become a verbatim verse set instead of a placid picture of Christ’s comfort. Take some time at the start of this year to meditate on the passage and uncover its hopeful message.
Holidays signify times of happiness for some and horror for others. While one person receives a splendorous gift, another suffers loss. While one person stays home alone, another joins a large family. While one mother has a miscarriage, another celebrates a new birth. Although this world certainly has celebratory occasions––such as Christmas––it also comes with moments of malaise and malady.
Let us not forget the reason we have life––both eternal and temporal; Christ. is the reason for the season. We cannot dwell in the house of the Lord without him because he is the pathway to a relationship with God; without him, we cannot receive eternal life in heaven.
Look at the rest of this passage. Although this Psalm most likely refers to the Father’s protection, the Holy Spirit is our comforter and protector; he seals us as God’s children, and the devil cannot steal us away from him, despite our best efforts. He may try time and time again with no avail because we have an identity in Christ.
Go back to the third verse. Life – renewal. We experience renewal through Christ because he is the spring of living water; the well of eternal life. He is the fount of blessing we can always drink from if we remain in him.
Remember when Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd? Now, look back at verses 1-2. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. If Christ is the Shepherd, then this certainly applies to him.
He leads us through the darkest places and shows us the way we should take to avoid danger. He leads us to the places where we can find rest and refresh our souls. His rod and staff comfort us because we are his sheep, and we know his voice. He continually loves and protects every last sheep; he even goes after the one that strays.
In a world of darkness, despair, and depravity, celebrating Christmas for the wrong reasons becomes highly tempting.
After all, singing joyful Christmas songs and watching countless family holiday movies functions as a source of distraction for all who cannot possibly bear any more burdens.
But, alas, we don’t have to bear those burdens because Christ already did that for us. And it’s certainly hard to stop forgetting about our pain and hardships, but we cannot continue driving ourselves deeper into the depths of despair.
We don’t have to become the greatest optimist, but surely we can drift at least a little bit away from pessimism. Enjoy the holidays and remember Christ’s great sacrifice for the world. His goodness and faithful love pursue us, even when we don’t pursue him back.
Jehn Kubiak is a Biola University journalism graduate and current pastoral care and counseling major at the Talbot School of Theology. She is a San Diego native who enjoys distance swimming, coffee, dogs, and painting. She loves researching and writing about people, sports, activities, and more.