Psalm 23: A Radical Message of Trust for Anxious Times

Sometimes it’s difficult to hear a simple message because we live in such a busy world. We read and hear Psalm 23 in church, devotionals and funeral but do we really hear the radical message of the Psalm? 

A summary of this Psalm might be “I have everything I need,” but our culture suggests that we want everything.

Our society confuses the notion of need with want. Most of us have difficulty imagining a world where we have only the necessities of life. 

Things and lifestyle that our ancestors would have thought to be incredible luxury have become for us basic needs. In our world today, few would say that we seek only those things essential for life. Those taking that position would be considered naive or shallow.

Reading the Psalmist’s words, we are informed that we need not worry about our lives or our deaths that God is with us and will always provide. Very simply this Psalm reminds us to trust God. 

In today’s world, we are taught to trust ourselves. To work hard to secure our personal lives and future. We have a hard time visualizing the shepherd and his dependence on the weather. The absolute dependence of the flock on the shepherd.

The sheep needed the shepherd to lead them to green pastures. 

Still waters were essential for their nourishment and safety. Moving about could be dangerous without care for safe paths and sometimes the corrective tools of rods and staffs rescued an endangered member of the flock. Sheep were led to green pastures and were there fed and sheltered.

For us, Psalm 23 reminds us of our childlike need for guidance and provision. As we mature and grow in wisdom, we easily transition to thinking we can provide for ourselves. 

Psalm 23 reminds us that we are as dependent as the sheep upon the shepherd.

When we are able to trust God and understand that God is always seeking safety and provision for us as his children, we find comfort in the guidance of the shepherd.

Grasping the reality that we belong to God and to one another provides us with assurance that we are part of a household where we are pursued and then welcomed.  The security offered in Psalm 23 is greater than any we can create for ourselves. We know that God’s provision will accompany us through our time on earth and forever.  This is the good news from the Psalmist.

Are you experiencing the household of God? This Psalm is a great prescription for the anxiety of our world; God is pursuing you all the days of your life.

Rev. Jack Womack is Senior Pastor of Hope Community United Methodist Church in Pasadena, just Southeast of Houston. If you are ever in the area, Hope Community would love for you to come by and worship with them.

Falling into the Psalms is brought to you by the Communications Department of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To be considered as a future blogger, please contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communication at smartin@txcumc.org.