Right Pathways by Rev. Charlie Dupree

Each Friday at Evening Prayer, we say together Psalm 23. It’s not the appointed psalm for Fridays, but it just feels right to remind ourselves that we’ve made it through another week and remember that God has been doing some serious leading and guiding.

We also heard Psalm 23 this past Sunday morning. We prayed it at a funeral that same afternoon. It may well be one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. Of the 150 psalms in the Psalter, it is certainly the most widely-known and widely-used psalm. I wonder what makes Psalm 23 a crowd favorite.

Psalm 23 is known as a psalm of trust. The author is putting her whole trust in the Lord who fills her cup, spreads a table before her, and moves her through dark valleys. The Lord’s rod and staff give the psalmist courage, even when things get tough. There are many interesting words and images to explore within Psalm 23, but I’d like to focus on the idea of “still waters.” The Lord leads the psalmist beside still waters. A better translation might be “peaceful waters” and is related to the theological concept of rest.

According to Biblical scholar Rolf Jacobson, “rest means more than mere bodily repose. Rest connotes protection from enemies, the environment in which life might thrive, and indeed, the lifting of any threat.”

Buried within the heart of Psalm 23 is a centuries’ old statement of faith: “You are with me.”

We are all on a journey right now. The Psalmist’s journey seems familiar as we travel through dark valleys, deep waters, and unknown physical, emotional, and spiritual territory. Yet, the Lord’s rod and staff are there. It’s good to feel them every now and then bumping us and prodding us . . . a little bump here . . . a gentle prod there. They give us strength and remind us of right pathways.

What right path is the Lord revealing to you?

1 The LORD is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,*
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.