The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;*
he restores my soul.*
He leads me in right paths*
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,*
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely* goodness and mercy* shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.*
Line by line this well- known Psalm gently awakens the inner ear and tunes me into the heart of God. If it were the only scripture I ever knew it would be enough to guide me to listen to the still small voice of well- being within.
However without the invitation, I would not listen on my own.
There is simply a lot of distracting noise. The assertive external world along with our busy interior muffles the voice that guides us to health and salvation.
Yet, when I read the lines of this Psalm something deep within awakens. The green pasture, the still waters and the path the Psalmist refers to are God in us. Waiting for our assent to follow where he leads below the mind’s busyness and the emotionality of our existence into the spacious spiritual heart.
The open field within silently awaits our arrival.
I create a lot of inner noise for myself. My monkey mind swinging from thought to thought, my busy ego assessing, comparing, and judging either insecure or striving does not stop. It is like a big city that never sleeps. The noise within muffles the voice of sanity.
I recently learned the root of the word noise is nausea. I interpret that etymology as a warning that I will get sick without the healing sound of silence.
As I see our culture, we are sick from our over busy lives run by our unconscious fears and overactive sense of self importance. We need a cure.
Surrender is the unspoken theme of this Psalm; written by someone who relented and finally listened. Pain is part of life they say but suffering is optional. The Psalmist no doubt suffered as we do; trying to fix a broken life, change others, fight fears, and pick herself up on her own. The Psalmist let down his defense and finally listened.
When we surrender to God and listen for truth hidden in our being our spiritual heart awakens. In those blessed still moments we find the enemies who are at us needling all day sit down at a dinner table, soothing fragrant oil pours over our being and we hear the melodious sound of Mercy.
Psalm 23 invites us to trust the sound of our own inner voice as the voice of God. If we listen below the noise, there is something trustworthy. The Caretaker of our souls speaks wisdom into our reality. And we can trust where we are led if we will only listen.