1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
I remember a day many years ago, when I was anxious. I cannot even remember very well what I was anxious about. But I remember what happened quite clearly. A man whom I knew somewhat sat down beside me rather unexpectedly and started talking. I suppose he could tell I was anxious, but he asked how I was doing and teased out of me some of what I was anxious about. With calm and steady precision, he helped me back up, take a look at the larger picture, pointed out more than one flaw in my thinking, and brought to the surface things I had never considered before.
I do not think that conversation was an accident that day. Jesus, my Shepherd, was leading me to still waters and green pastures in this older Christian’s wisdom and gentle kindness. There was no miracle nor anything supernatural about it. I and this man had crossed paths before and did so regularly. But never had we spoken like this. Why did he choose to sit by me that day? Why did his question pull out of me a confessed anxiety of which I had hardly spoken to anyone else? Others had asked how I was doing. I had responded with some version of “OK.” There was no discernable cause which makes sense of this conversation that way. But as I reflect on it, its cause seems clear. The Jesus who had promised on the day of my Baptism to watch over my coming in and going out was keeping that promise.
The words of the Psalm have been precious to God’s people for 3,000 years. This is likely one of the oldest poems you will ever read. It is older than the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was old when Jesus helped us to see that it was talking about him. Its durability is found in the comfort it still brings. Read it slowly and think about the ways that your resurrected Lord has done all these things for you. Read it again. This time think of how Jesus could use you to be calm waters or an overflowing cup for someone in your life.