Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known pieces of literature in the entire Hebrew Psalter (the Book of Psalms). It is absolutely a masterpiece, and it is full of rich metaphors of a shepherd caring for his/her sheep. It is believed that King David wrote this masterpiece after years of many ups and downs in his personal and professional life (as King of the nation of Israel). For this month’s newsletter, there is one phrase that I want to shine the spotlight on and it resides in verse four--for thou art with me. This phrase is the main focus of the Psalm—we know this because in the Hebrew text there are exactly twenty-six words before this phrase and there are exactly twenty-six words after this phrase. This centerpiece method is very common to ancient Hebrew poetry. I believe that the Psalmist (possibly, King David) had come to realize that through all of his ups and downs God had always been with him—leading him and guiding him, just as all good shepherds in ancient Palestine did with their sheep.
Furthermore, it is obvious that our world is facing great uncertainty during this time while battling COVID-19. I know that you have heard it time and time again; but, we must all realize that even when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death (e.g., the valley of uncertainty, the valley of fear, the valley of darkness, the valley of a global pandemic, etc.) that God is with us. I heard someone say that it is not during the tough times that we are able to discern the hand of God in our lives (or, in our world); however, it is usually when we make it out of the tough times that we are able to look back (hindsight) and see the footprints of God carrying us through the tough times.
Finally, just like you, Michelle and I have been through our fair share of life's ups and downs; and, each time we made it to the other side of the storm we were able to look up towards heaven and say surely, thou art with me. I strongly believe that once we make it to the other side of this global pandemic, like the Psalmist, we will be able to look up towards heaven and say surely, thou were and thou [still] art with me.
In Christ Our Lord,
Pastor Michael L. Sloan