Psalm 23

‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’ Surely this must be one of the most comforting verses in the Bible, and I am so glad that we were encouraged to memorise this psalm as children in school. The teachers also encouraged us to memorise The Lord’s Prayer, beginning ‘Our Father, Who art in Heaven’. Learning these verses off by heart is a little like learning the times tables: they stay with one for a long time to come.

I was struck today while reading my Bible that the landscapes of the English Lake District provide opportunities for perfect depictions of many Bible verses. As Psalm 23 is a favourite of mine, I would like to offer what I think might be photos that capture in part at least the spirit of the verses it comprises. I am sure that others will have their own suggestions for appropriate pictorial representations of the verses in Psalm 23. If you would be kind enough to share them, I would enjoy seeing your choices.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters, He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Lush fell pastures behind Blenheim Lodge, our Bowness-on-Windermere bed and breakfast.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

View of the valley over Borrowdale to Derwent Water and Skiddaw from Castle Crag. Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Afternoon tea served on the lawn with Lake Windermere in the background. Photo courtesy of www.cumbriaphoto.co.uk.

For me, Psalm 23 offers comfort and hope when I am stressed or concerned about anything. The verses encompass the whole gamut of emotions which can affect human life: from anxiety and want, to the fear of death, to relief and overwhelming thankfulness, and finally to the joyous anticipation of dwelling with the Lord forever. I shall complete this post with a quote taken from Dr Jack Hyles’ The Story behind the Psalms. 

‘Gwen Bertelsman’s enigmatic pictures show naturally the life and landscape of the Lake District in the 1940s.’ This is one of the photos in Lakeland Life in the 1940s and 1950s, edited by Martin Varley of the Friends of the Lake District. Quote and image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk.)

It is rather difficult to ascertain the exact occasion of the writing of the 23rd Psalm. There are those who feel that the Psalm was written when David was a lad tending the sheep, because it is a shepherd’s psalm. However, there is evidence that this is not true. For example, in verse 5, he was old enough to have enemies. In verse 4 he was facing the danger of death. In verse 3 he was experiencing rest, and in verse 5 he was experiencing prosperity. These things all point to an older person, or at least one who had reached maturity or adulthood. Probably the 23rd Psalm was written while David was at Mahanaim wondering how the battle was between his forces and those of his son, Absalom, during the civil war caused by Absalom’s rebellion. Of course, David was grief-stricken and heartbroken. It may have been the darkest hour of his life and this is where he penned the beautiful words, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I wonder how many people have been comforted and strengthened in times of sorrow, bereavement and heartache through these immortal words.

(Quote above taken from www.fbbc.com.)

 

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