Can I find anything new in Psalm 23? After all, it’s so familiar. Over my twenty-three-year pastoral career, I performed hundreds of funerals, probably with none omitting the familiar and comforting words of the 23rd Psalm.
Today it’s my time to read this well-known psalm in my daily Bible reading schedule. Skip over it? Or scan it, using my Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics techniques? Better not. But will I find anything new here? I would love to be grabbed by the collar, making me sit up and listen to God’s Word with something that I hadn’t noticed before.
Wait a minute. I do feel a tug. Where? It’s in the last verse–‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ Nothing new there. Same old, same old. Until I dig into my Old Testament Hebrew language. The word ‘goodness’ is the simple word ‘good’ as in fine and dandy. But the next word ‘mercy’, is a word that is packed with Hebrew meanings.
It’s the word ‘chesed’, often translated as ‘loving kindness’, which is fine as it is, but there’s much more going on here. Though difficult to translate, let’s give it the old college try. ‘Chesed’ boils down to synonyms such as loyalty, generosity, trustworthiness, and commitment. Getting a bit of its drift? Like deserving nothing, yet receiving everything. In other words, the Lord is crazy about you and me. We give Him many reasons not to be, but He does anyway. That’s ‘chesed’.
But I see even more in this familiar psalm. It’s in that last verse, about dwelling in God’s house–‘…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ (Ps. 23:.6). When you’re God’s child, as in when you accept Jesus into your life, then He does all in His power to make sure that nothing and no one ever gets in the way of your being with Him forever. He makes sure we’re not hell-bent or -bound. Quite the opposite. That’s His promise but one we should never take for granted.
You know you’re His own, don’t you? If not, ask Him. Open your heart to Jesus. Trust Him. Believe what He says for He means what He says. Keep a forward focus on Jesus who forgives our sins, rarely looking back. Then dwell obediently in His house as His worthy and respectful resident never to be evicted.
Dwell. Planted. Safe and secure from all alarms.
Lo and behold, I found a couple of goodies to chew on this week. Makes me a happy camper! How about you?
Oh, Lord! For your promises, we thank you and love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.