Psalm 23: A Contemporary Interpretation

Lord, we acknowledge you as our shepherd and trust you to meet our needs. In fact, we testify that you give us more than we need.

When we grieve and are distressed you soothe and comfort us. When chaos swirls around us you keep us calm and give us peace. During every spiritual battle you uphold us. After each battle you restore our spiritual strength so we are able to withstand the next round of fiery darts thrown at us. You make it possible for us to overcome every challenge, including fear.

You alone lead us into righteous thinking and behaving. Apart from you we are nothing and incapable of doing any good thing.

Even in our darkest hours we will not fear, for you-Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of life- are with us. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect and guide us.

You are so good to us that you heap an abundance of spiritual gifts upon us in the presence of our enemies.Your anointing awes them, as it does us for we know we are unworthy.

Because of your word, we are confident that your goodness and mercy shall be with us always and we rejoice in knowing we shall dwell in your presence forever.

The Witnesses

“Go home to your friends,” he told him, “and tell them what wonderful things God has done for you; and how merciful he has been.” So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns[a] of that region and began to tell everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him; and they were awestruck by his story. Mark 5: 19 & 20

Powerful and inspirational personal testimonies always highlight the imperfections of the ones testifying and the grace, love, and power of God. They are inspired by a deep gratitude to God and a desire to introduce others to God.  Such was the case of the testimony of the man described in the preceding passage of Scripture. After the man’s deliverance he was so overcome with gratitude to Jesus for healing him that he went back to where he was from and began “ …to tell everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him…” The Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well responded similarly (see John 4:28-30). After her encounter with Jesus she returned to where she was from and testified about Jesus. ‘Then the woman left her water pot beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?”  So the people came streaming from the village to see him.’ John 4:28-30 (TLB)

Notice, the characters in the Bible went back to where they were from to witness to people they knew and who knew them.  The power of their testimonies was derived from the fact that each of them had an authentic encounter with Jesus. They were no longer just people who had heard about Jesus, they had met God.  To meet the Lord is a life altering experience that results in a transformed life dedicated to glorifying God in word, thought, and deed.

Everyone has a story. Some stories are more interesting and inspiring than others. But the stories that have the greatest impact are God-centered and illustrate God’s great love for humanity.  Like those narratives revealed in the previously cited Scriptures, such testimonies are also revealed in and through the experiences of Harriet Tubman, Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy; David Wilkerson, Cookie Rodriguez, and others. The testimonies are uplifting because they show God is no respecter of persons- what God does for one God will do for others because God loves each of us equally and unconditionally. The testimonies are particularly poignant because each inspires hope for they are proof that God still performs miracles and those miracles are evidence that God loves, saves, delivers, and heals.

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth let there be peace among God’s people!” Luke 2:14