The familiarity of the words of the psalm can keep us from truly entering into the meaning and intent of its words. Sometimes, a reframing of the familiar brings it to life in a new way. Eugene Peterson, in his Message paraphrase, interprets Psalm 23 in the following way:
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows;
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk by my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.” Which words are correct, which are true? Could it be both? The words of Psalm 23 are those of an ancestor in our faith who was delivered, in some way, from danger and who praised God for help during that danger. Today, offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all those moments of deliverance.