Psalm 23 is easily the most widely used psalm in the Christian world. Individuals love it. The liturgy uses it frequently. When we hear, “The lord is my shepherd,” we know we are in God’s good hands.
There are two main images. One is the shepherd. The other is the host providing a delicious banquet. Whether times are good or bad, we are assured God is taking care of us. We enjoy green pastures. We enjoy the choicest food.
“Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life.”
The good shepherd is the loving God of the Old and New Testaments. It is especially Jesus pursuing the sheep lost in the woods or on a dangerous cliff.
As used by the Mothers and Fathers of the Church, and in the liturgy, the psalm reminds us of Baptism (“safe waters”), Confirmation, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick (“you anoint my head with holy oil”). The psalm is appropriate at funerals. Reminding us of God’s care for the deceased throughout life on earth and now in heaven. The Good News translation has: “and your house will be my home forever.”
Indulging in a bit of fantasy, we might uncover a reference to the sacraments of Penance and Matrimony in the text. The shepherd’s rod hints at the grace of Penance to expel evil from our lives. The shepherd’s staff suggests that husband and wife receive the grace to support one another.
We tend to take our study and use of Scripture seriously, and so we should. But there’s nothing wrong with finding in the Bible’s images and phrases a help to deepen our appreciation of the truths of our faith. Dare we say that there is nothing wrong with having fun as we meet God in the Scriptures?
Photo: Lescure Jean-Rémy/photoxpress