The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;
for you are at my side, with your rod and your staff that give me courage.
You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.
This Psalm is very familiar to us (there was a time when many people memorized it), and because of that, it could be that whenever we hear it we fail to grasp its meaning. We hear it, we think “Psalm 23 – I know that one”, we repeat some or all of the words mentally along with the person reading it aloud… but maybe we don’t really think about what the words mean!
It is a psalm of comfort, often read at funerals (not to mention on several days of the liturgical year). But it’s also a psalm for every day.
There are two passages in Psalm 23 that remind us of what it means to walk with Christ and to have Him walk with us. “Even though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage”, and “You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes“.
These two verses remind us that the Lord Jesus is with us in the midst of this world and its evils. Walking with Christ does not mean escaping this world but living in it in a different way – with Him at our side. If we maintain His presence in our lives then He will defend us from the temptations and other evils that we so frequently encounter; He will nourish us even as our foes look on plotting their next move.
Every day is a new spiritual battle, but we are drawing upon the strength of Christ and of the angels whom He has sent to minister to us – not on our own resources. Each and every one of us has a guardian angel whose sole mission is to help us get to heaven; we can also call upon St. Michael the Archangel – a devotion recommended by the Popes and strong in our spiritual tradition – for protection and help each day.
May Christ be before us, behind us, and beside us today and every day, and may His angels accompany us also so that we can walk the path of virtue and grow in Christian maturity!