Beside Still Waters | The 23rd Psalm

Welcome to Real Life. Where do you find peace?

“And into the forest I go,
to lose my mind and find my soul.”
–John Muir

Our family often camps at Pymatuning State Park. A few quiet days serenaded by crickets is good medicine for the soul. The still waters of Pymatuning Lake never fail to calm me. They bring to mind the words of Psalm 23. He leads me beside the still waters.


David wrote this psalm. Before he rose to be king of Israel, David was a humble shepherd. He tenderly cared for and protected his flock. God chose a man after his own heart, a good shepherd, to become the most beloved king of Israel. David walked in vulnerable honesty and intimacy with his God. When I long to feel God’s nearness, when I’m anxious, when I can’t sleep, I often pray David’s words.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Lord, you are our Good Shepherd. We are your flock, your sheep. We trust you to provide everything we need—love, peace, strength, healing, finances, faith, and hope for our tomorrows. We rest in your tender care today.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.
You invite us to escape the chaotic stress of this world and enter the stillness of your presence. We sink into the lush comfort of your green pastures. We take your hand as you lead us beside the quiet waters until our souls mirror their stillness.

He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. When we feel stretched thin, dry, and brittle, you restore our souls with the fullness of your Spirit. You heal and expand the very essence of our being. Dear Shepherd, direct our feet to do good and be good. Give us hearts that love to serve.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. When our path descends into the valley of trials and disappointments, surrounded by a pandemic and the fear of death, we will fear no evil. For you are with us. Your loving correction and firm guidance give us peace. You will not lead us astray. And when we wander, you go after us, and call us home.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. You place a hedge of protection around us. No enemy can touch us without your permission. Secure in you—our fortress, strong tower, and hiding place—we come and feast at your table. You anoint us and set us apart as holy. Our hearts fill to overflowing!

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. As I leaf through the pages my life, I find a never ending trail of your goodness and mercy. And when our days on this earth cease, our real life with you begins. We will see you face-to-face and live with you in your house forever and ever! Hallelujah! Amen.


Psalm 23
A psalm of David
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will 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 your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
    

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