November 19, 2020 | by Laura Horner
I think of Psalm 23 as a “five senses” psalm. David’s poetic words bring images of green pastures, the bubbly sounds of quiet streams, the smell of fresh air, the taste of banquet, and the gentle hand of God leading his people. Because of this, Psalm 23 stirs up many memories and holds a tender place in my heart, as I’m sure it does for many of us.
Maybe it was read at a loved one’s memorial or sung by children as one of their earliest memory verses. While both are true in my own life, I confess it’s the latter that had previously resonated with me most. I hear “The Lord is my shepherd” and immediately visualize the motions to the song my children learned as first-graders. While so many precious memories can be found surrounding Psalm 23, God continues to use these verses to lead and comfort today.
This past week, I encountered Psalm 23 in two different ECRC ministries. Has this ever happened to you? Where the same piece of Scripture keeps finding you in multiple places? How incredible is it that the Holy Spirit led two thriving ECRC ministries to study Psalm 23 in times where we have had to shift, adjust, and be creative.
Last week, Coffee Break small groups studied this psalm in our final lesson on Anxiety. The theme behind the week’s study was to explore relief from anxiety through the heart of our Shepherd. We leaned into what David, the writer of the psalm, must have been feeling. We discussed how in times of anxiety, David cried out and sought comfort from the Lord through prayer and how, as part of God’s family, we can do the very same. Little did I know God had more to say to me on this.
Recently, in Youth Ministry we have been studying the Psalms and looking closer at them for examples on how to cling to God when things seem out of sorts. And the very same week as Coffee Break, both Middle School and High School youth ministries listened to a message on and discussed this very same psalm. How incredible is it that the Holy Spirit orchestrated multiple generations to be studying the same scripture this week
On a personal level, I found immense value discussing Psalm 23 with both teenagers and adults. Both groups had incredible conversations on what God’s peace looks like, on what we are longing for him to do in our lives and in encouraging each other to pour out our hearts to God. In these conversations, I felt “my cup overflow,” as David writes in the last part of verse 5.
While I will still think of the precious motions my children learned to memorize this psalm, a new appreciation was formed this week surrounding Psalm 23, in the small group times of both Coffee Break and Youth Ministry. In a time where being in community looks very different than what we are used to, I am particularly thankful for our church leadership, volunteers, and staff who, by God’s leading, helped make these incredible moments happen. I hope that you feel, touch, taste, smell, and hear God’s goodness and mercy this week.
Student Ministries Assistant