Every Sunday there is a psalm appointed as part of the scripture readings from the lectionary. We don’t often read the psalm during worship like we read the other texts from the Bible, but we may use the psalm as our call to worship or in some other part of the service. The psalm appointed for Sunday May 3rd is Psalm 23, a passage of scripture that is very familiar to most of us. It is best known, perhaps, for its use during funerals, for it has become quite the comfort to people as they commend their loved ones to God. I have read it at many funerals, including my own grandmother’s.
It is good for us to remember that the psalm has a place outside of funerals as well and can be a comfort to us in many times of trial and anxiety. This continuing pandemic is such a time for many of us. It serves to remind us that though we may feel isolated or lonely God is with us, even when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. The psalm recalls that not only is God present with us, but God leads us and provides for us, even in the presence of our enemies (fear, anxiety, loneliness, illness, etc). God’s provision is enough, more than enough even, as the psalmist declares that their cup overflows.
For many of us God’s presence, provision, and guiding may seem distant if we are overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding us. This is when some translations are more helpful than others. The Common English Bible translates as pursue what many other translations render as follows.
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the Lord’s house
as long as I live.
Even when we feel like God is distant and God’s goodness is far from us Psalm 23 reminds us that in fact God pursues, God’s love and goodness seek us out.
So as we continue treading the paths of life, remember in the midst of this pandemic and long after God is with you, to provide for and guide you. Even in the moments that weigh down on us, where death’s shadow overwhelms, God is seeking us out in love and goodness. Amen.