If asked to choose my favorite Bible passages, Psalm 23 would start my list. Through the years, I heard the psalm while growing up in church. But those six verses spoke to me personally as a teenager when my grandfather died. Psalm 23 comforted me during my grief. It’s a passage of Scripture often read at funerals.
Psalm 23 was written 3,000 years ago by King David, who grew up shepherding sheep. Some describe it as the world’s best-known and most-loved poem. The words are timeless.
Author Robert J. Morgan shares a story in his book, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” about Psalm 23. Two men hiking in Wales came across a young boy in the mountains keeping sheep. The travelers talked to him about shepherding and their conversation turned to Psalm 23.
“One of the men told the boy, ‘Think of the five fingers on your left hand. Let each finger stand for one word of Psalm 23:1. You can recall it by grasping each finger, one at a time with your right hand.’ They showed him how to do it.”
The man said the thumb represents “The.” The index finger represented “Lord,” followed by the middle finger for the word “is.” Next, the ring finger, which symbolized “my” and finally, the little finger for the word “Shepherd.” A year later, the men returned on another hiking trip. They stopped at a small country house for a cup of tea and noticed a picture of the young shepherd on the table.
The men asked the woman serving the tea the whereabouts of the boy. She replied, “That was my son.” She went on to tell them how the boy died during the winter, falling off a cliff during a storm. “There was something strange about it which we’ve never understood. When we found his body, his right hand was grasping the fourth finger of his left hand.” The hikers solved the mystery by sharing about their encounter with the boy the year before.
Robert Morgan also shares about a successful businessman who had lost his peace of mind due to worry. The businessman came to see Dr. Charles Allen, a noted author and minister, took out a sheet of paper and “prescribed” Psalm 23, five times a day for seven days – upon waking, at breakfast, after lunch, again after dinner, and before going to bed. Dr. Allen once said, “The 23rd Psalm is one of the most powerful pieces of writing in existence, and it can do marvelous things for a person.” I’m sharing that “prescription” with you.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Jan White is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who lives in Andalusia. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.