From my journal, meditating on Psalm 23.
23 is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry ever written, and it is
rightly loved and righty famous. Its context in the Psalter is intriguing; its
placement is no accident, so the surrounding Psalms (and their potential usage)
provide further insight into this masterpiece among masterpieces.
of Dereliction is Psalm 22:1, and His final words are Psalm 31:5. If He prayed
the rest of the Psalms between, only vocalizing those two verses, then He
prayed Psalm 23 on the cross. (Even if He didn’t, the editors/compilers of the
Psalms were inspired to put it here, but the possibility––likelihood?––is fascinating
and appealing to me.)
light, Psalm 23 becomes a grueling battle rather than merely a serene pastoral scene.
Jesus is suffering unspeakable physical torture and the outpoured wrath of
God––both wholly undeserved––when He prays,
“The LORD is my shepherd;Psalm 23:1 (CSB)
I have what I need.”
in complete faith beyond circumstances that He prays,
“He lets me lie down in green pastures;Psalm 23:2 (CSB)
he leads me beside quiet waters.”
of the taunts hurled at Him: “Come down from the cross!” His response is to
trust that His Father––Yahweh the Shepherd––will lead Him to green pastures
where He may lie down.
of the anguished cry, “I thirst!” He trusts His Father––Yahweh the Shepherd––to
bring Him to quiet waters to be refreshed.
But not yet. The “darkest valley” (CSB), the “valley of the shadow of death” (KJV), must be traversed first. But there is no need to fear: He is led to and through it by His Father’s––Yahweh the Shepherd––hand.
enemies––the bulls and lions snarling and slobbering to destroy Him from
Psalm 22––have to watch as a feast-table is spread before them. Bread and wine
fill the Holy Table where all who believe may eat their fill and be satisfied
with rich food.
of the Spirit, the oil of gladness, anoints Him (for He is Christ, the Messiah, the
Anointed One), and He gives the Spirit with His Father as an effusion of their
overflows. He is drinking the cup of wrath to the dregs, but the cup of
blessing (see Psalm 16:5) can’t contain the wine of celebration that’s coming.
and sin are so completely defeated that the only pursuers seen over the
shoulder are goodness and faithful love. There in the true house of the LORD,
the original from which Moses copied, He will dwell––the very place He has
prepared for us by cleansing us from every stain.