We’ve all experienced anxiety about our lives, and many of us seek comfort in the Bible. 2020 has certainly been the year of anxiety for a variety of reasons. As we look to God’s Word for wisdom and help, one good place to start is the classical passage on peace: Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 has been repeated and cited so many times that it’s easy to lose sight of what it’s actually saying to us. But when we take a closer look, we discover a meaningful picture of God that provides comfort even in the darkest times. Reading this passage in light of 2020’s events brings much-needed reassurance.
We’re all familiar with the metaphor of God as our shepherd. But there’s more to it than God simply leading us the way a shepherd leads his flock. Not only does He bring us to “green pastures” and “quiet waters” and provide for our needs, but He blesses us immensely. “My cup overflows”, as the chapter puts it later on. He also protects us in dangerous circumstances, represented by the valley of the shadow of death. The verse that says “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” refers to the two primary tools carried by ancient shepherds, and both have an interesting meaning. The staff was used to help the shepherd walk as he guided his flock. Meanwhile, the rod was a weapon meant to drive away predators and anyone trying to harm the sheep. We as sheep are comforted by the rod because it keeps us safe!
This shepherding imagery is found throughout the Bible. Jesus emphasizes that we as Christians know His voice and He protects us, and highlights the loving care of a good shepherd in searching for the lost sheep. This symbolism is no accident. Comparing God to a shepherd shows His desire to care for us in all aspects of our lives.
What This Means for Us
It may seem cliche to simply say “Trust God!” as the world is in chaos around you. While we certainly shouldn’t stop with only that sentiment, passages like Psalm 23 remind us that God is in control and is still leading us through these difficult times. 2020 certainly feels like the valley of the shadow of death for many people! Just stick close to the Shepherd for protection.
Grow Deeper: If you’re reaching out to help someone struggling, don’t stop with only telling them to trust God. Show God’s love to them through running an errand for them, spending time with them, or helping them however they need.
Remembering Psalm 23
Plenty of often-quoted Bible passages can take on a whole new meaning when we examine them more closely. Psalm 23 is no exception. In the chaotic year that 2020 continues to be, a beautifully written psalm about how God protects us is particularly meaningful.
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