Enemies, Shepherds, and Divine Promises

May 12, 2019


One of the first passages from the Bible that children learn is the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. This Psalm stays with us through adulthood. For many, this is a passage chosen for memorial services. But why this Psalm? What makes it so important to us that we take the time to memorize it, to commit it to memory, and to recite it in times of trouble? While it may not seem so on the surface, this Psalm is revolutionary, anti-capitalist, counter-cultural, and just plain subversive.

As a child learning this passage, I had no idea of the ramifications of this text, much less any deeper meaning than God wants us to be happy and peaceful, and to not be afraid. This, combined with a few Hail Marys, and an “Our Father” were sure to get me through whatever standardized test, trip to a dark basement, or bad dream was bothering me in my youth. It’s almost become clique in Christian circles to cite this as a favorite scripture, but as is the case with most of our oft-quoted or beloved scripture passages, the actual meaning and purpose can stand in contrast to the general feeling of familiarity and peacefulness it brings up.

Bible References

  • Psalm 23:1 - 6