Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Psalm 23 is one of the most comforting Psalms we have. It’s no surprise that it is used in visitation of the sick and dying, at funeral services, and in all other situations when we need to see the security and comfort we can have in the presence of God. The very idea of being led by the Lord as a shepherd leads his sheep, taking them to the pasture, the clean water, and a place to rest - it is enough to make me want to sign up for sheep duty myself!
How does the Lord lead his people? He leads them “in paths of righteousness.” This is something we so often forget. In a culture where there is a sort of generic deity who does what people want and cares for the needs they think are important, the deity who meets us in a very private way, no according to any plan - in that kind of culture the God who guides his people into particular acts of righteousness is offensive. We scream back at God, asking how He would dare to impose some sort of morality upon us when we were trying to follow our hearts.
The idea which is central to this Psalm is that God is the one who knows what we need. He is the shepherd. We are the sheep. Left to our own devices we are helpless. We would graze in areas where some of the plants may be toxic to us. We would lose track of where the water supply is. We would become easy prey for any number of predators. We need the LORD so that we can find safety. Even though the enemies surround us, when the LORD is our shepherd, we have all we need.
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