Daily Devotions are published Tuesday-Saturday during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Morning Psalm 23 (NRSV)
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.
It is a delight to have a chance to write on this very familiar psalm. It is one of the few bits of scripture that I knew before I became a Christian. My parents’ best friends, Bev and Bill, kept a large fancy Bible in their living room, and it was always open to the page with this psalm. I never heard them say a word about religion. But I read this psalm many, many times, sitting like a little eavesdropping mouse in their living room.
Over a year ago, I set myself a challenge to learn Genesis 1 by heart. And Genesis 1 relates to Psalm 23! In day six, God gives “every green plant” to have as food to every creature that moves on the Earth or flies in the air; to everything that has the breath of life. The word “green” jumped out at me because color descriptions are rare (at least I think so) in scripture. And to a sheep, the green pasture isn’t just pretty or idyllic or peaceful. It is rich nourishing food. God the shepherd is providing food – and has been providing food since the creation.
And God is providing still waters. At the very start of Genesis 1, when the Earth is a formless void and darkness covers the waters, and God’s spirit hovers over the waters – the waters were not created by God. The waters already existed. In fact, creating the world could be considered the story of “taming the waters” with a dome called sky, with gathering the water together to form oceans instead of a wildness of water everywhere, and then filling the oceans with life. As I understand it, to the ancient people, water was wild, untamed, often terrifying, and yet necessary. Frankly a hurricane or a rough ocean is still mysterious and dangerous and scary. Still water that is safe to drink was and is necessary. This psalm is also noting God’s power and God’s care for all of creation.
So God does not want us or any part of creation to be in need. God provides good green food and safe clean waters, and the right paths to get there. When we are in the darkest valley or among enemies, we can remember that God’s abundance does exist.
Dear God, let us today remember the blessings of abundance that look like green food and delicious water. Let us enjoy your gifts even in the midst of the storm. Thank you, God, for lighting the way. Amen.