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08/05/2011 / Kaitlin Zhang

The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want.

This is a Guest Post by Mr. Chaitanya.  A meditation on Pslam 23.

Mr. Chaitanya hails from India, and is currently doing his doctoral studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. He is interested in ecological ethics – more specifically, the interconnections of ecojustice and social justice. He is currently serving as a member on the Theology Working Group of the Student Christian Movement of USA.

One of the Psalms that many Christians might know – even by-heart, is Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; …” Have you ever wondered why this psalm is so popular? I have read somewhere that Psalm 23 is popular because it presents one of the most perfect pictures of what happiness is. We, as human beings, are naturally inclined to long for happiness or contentment in life; and, we try to find ways to be happy in life. This Psalm shows us that it is God, who is depicted as a shepherd, is the source of all happiness. But remember, as we can understand from the Psalm, happiness is not only about material things, it is much more than that.

This Psalm is also popular because it is very down-to-earth. There is nothing in this Psalm that is so ethereal that we are lost in abstraction. In simple words David says what a shepherd does for his sheep and draws us into the pastoral setting with ease and grace. Perhaps all his experience as a shepherd might have helped David to present this Psalm in such a fascinating manner.  No doubt, this Psalm has been, and continues to be, a source of relief, encouragement and inspiration for those who are troubled and are longing for divine comfort.

Apart from the two significant aspects of the Psalm that I have mentioned, it seems to me that there is a subtle question that David is posing all of us. Indeed, God is our shepherd, but are you God’s sheep? If God is our shepherd, God’s goodness and mercy should emanate from us; we need not fear evil; we need to long for the presence of God all through our lives. Can we still say: “The Lord is my shepherd”?

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