Day 8 Psalm 23 ... A Shepherd's Song

David was a well-rounded human being. Although he had enough courage to take on the likes of Goliath, he certainly did not fit any macho warrior mold. In fact, David first gained King Saul's notice for his musical, not military, skills. Initially, he was brought to the army camp because his harp playing soothed the frayed nerves of the troubled king.

Almost half of the 150 psalms in the Bible are credited to David, and it seems only appropriate to read a sampling in conjunction with his life history. This famous psalm reveals at once the secret of David's poetic abilities and the secret of his faith.

In his poetry David, tend to start with the scene around him-rocks, caves, stars, battlefields, sheep-and work out from that physical world to express profound thoughts about God. Psalm 23, for instance, stems from his experience as a shepherd boy. A book like a Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 explains how this psalm uses the precise metaphors that emerge from the tasks of shepherding; David was able to reduce those images to a few condensed, beautiful stanzas.

The psalm captures the essence of David's trust in God. Sheep have blind, absolute trust in a leader: If a lead sheep plunges off a cliff, an entire flock will follow. That kind of unshakable trust was what David sought in his walk with God.

Yet, no one can dismiss David as having a rosy, romantic view of life. The preceding song, Psalm 22, shows just how tough, gritty, and ruthlessly honest he could be. Somehow David managed to make God the center of his life, regardless of circumstances-whether he felt specially comforted by god, or cruelly abandoned. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God," wrote this soldier who spent much of his time running from chariots and horses (Psalm 20:7).

The best way to read the psalms is to make these ancient prayers your own by speaking them directly to God. Over the years, millions of people have found comfort and inspiration by "praying" the eloquent words of Psalm 23, written by the shepherd who would be king.

Point to Ponder: : Does your faith resemble more the child-like faith of Psalm 23 or the barely-hanging-on faith of Psalm 22?