It happened to me recently with Psalm 23. Yes, a very familiar verse. But this time it was much more personal than it ever has been to me.
I had been unknowingly and unwillingly thrown into someone else's unsettling circumstances. It was nothing I planned, nothing I intended, nothing I even imagined, but there I was - a little speck of dust sucked up by an evil vacuum cleaner. And it was very clear that they didn't like my particular variety of dust.
In the midst of it all, one morning I grabbed a little devotional booklet that I pick up at church every month. The devotionals in the booklet are brief one-pagers that include one verse of scripture, about 4 or 5 paragraphs of inspiration, and a one-sentence prayer. I don't usually use this booklet for devotions, rather, I read it when I need a quick inspiration or Word.
This particular day the verse was Psalm 23:5.
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."I read that verse and realized I would be sitting around that table later that day. I had an appointment scheduled with the vacuum cleaner operator. And they certainly felt like the enemy. When I read this verse I realized that God had prepared that table for me. FOR me. And He had anointed me with oil to protect me from being penetrated by the evil of my enemy.
Psalm 23 wasn't just a chapter of comfort any more. It was written about me. For that particular day.
After that, I couldn't seem to get away from Psalm 23. I came across it in reading and in conversations over and over again.
It all reminded me of a study I took at least 15 years ago, Prayer Life by T.W. Hunt. In that study one of the assignments was to write your own 23rd Psalm. Hunt explained that David was a shepherd, so he wrote using his own personal daily language. He wrote about things he knew and dealt with every day - shepherds, green pastures, rod, staff, those kind of things. The assignment was to use our own buzzwords and write our own.
I went through my stack of study notebooks last night and found mine (yes, I hang on to all those things....for years). Here is it:
- The Lord writes my story; I don't have to find the right words or even make it rhyme.
- When I follow His outline, the storyline takes me to such peaceful places.
- The things He writes always leave me wanting more. He has not only written the script, but has given it the direction that will always lead me back to Him.
- Sometimes the words He's written are painful and make me cry, but they are always followed by words of love and compassion.
- You write my story in such a way that other people can read it too; even those who want to write their own ending to it.
- You have given me so many words; they often spill out of my mouth with very little prompting. You have written Your words on every day of my life and because of that, there is no end to my story.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23