Alternate versions of Psalm 23

This past week I was re-writing Psalm 23 to look at what it means, in terms of Jesus calling himself the Good Shepherd who comes that we might have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10-11)

This is my first version:

Abundant Life Psalm 23

God leads, protects and provides for me; I don’t need anything else.

The Creator of this beautiful creation gives me all I need: gives me rest, quenches my thirst, and restores my soul.

The God of love and justice leads me to live love and justice.

When life is hard, when the way before me feels dark is full of the unknown,

I am not afraid, for you will never leave me alone.

I am comforted knowing that you will always be there to guide me and protect me.

You give me all I need, even as there are those who want me to believe I need more than what you provide.

You heal me, you name me as your own.

Your love is abundant, and you give me abundant life.

Your love and grace pursue me throughout my life.

I am not alone, I am at home in God’s world, for ever.

 

I then got to thinking what the opposite of Psalm 23 would be- without the faith and trust in God’s promise. So I wrote this version. It’s an extreme, but so is the original Psalm 23- it’s an ideal of faith and trust. I think we can all find ourselves in this at some point:

Lonely Psalm 23

I am adrift, I do not know how to protect myself. I am not satisfied with what I have and struggle to get more.

I must keep busy to keep up in a busy chaotic world.

My thirst is never quite quenched, my soul feels broken.

I walk this path alone, and I am confused about why.

Life is hard, dark and dangerous.

I am frightened because there is so much unknown, and there is no one I can turn to for comfort.

I never have enough, there is always someone who wants to take from me.

I am broken and belong to no one and with no one.

Love is scarce in my life, my life is also scarce.

Bad luck and judgement follow me at every turn.

I have no home to feel secure in.

 

Doing some more thinking, I realized that while often we all feel alone and without God with us, far too often, we don’t reach out, we rely on ourselves instead of God. So I wrote this version. Again, it’s an extreme, but I think we can find a bit of ourselves in it:

Individualistic Psalm 23

I can lead and provide for myself; if I need anything, I will get it for myself as a result of my own hard work.

This world is full of resources for my use- land, water, whether it can be restored or not, I will take it if I feel I need it for my well being.

My way is all that matters- the purpose of life is to make myself happy.

If there are things that are scary and unknown, I will avoid them.

I fear those who are different, the only safety and comfort I find is with people just like me.

I prepare an abundant table for myself- and throw away much of it, not thinking about people who go without- they are different than me.

There is nothing wrong with me that needs healing, and I refuse to heal others.

My life is not abundant yet- but I’m working on it.

I will pursue success and greatness and wealth throughout my life.

This is my home. I control who can come in.

 

Finally, I realized that the line about “walking in the paths of righteousness/ love/ justice” means that abundant life in the Psalm needs to be seen not only in what God does for us ourselves, but what God wants to do for all, and that part of abundant life is responding to the call to walk down that path that God leads us down. So my final version (for now!) adds on to my first version, with our call to ensure abundant life for everyone.

Abundant Life for All Psalm 23

God leads, protects and provides for me; I don’t need anything else. And I work to ensure there is no one in need.

The Creator of this beautiful creation gives me all I need: gives me rest, quenches my thirst, and restores my soul.

The creation is a gift I appreciate and protect. I am restored as the earth and all its people are restored.

The God of love and justice leads me to live love and justice.

When life is hard, when the way before me feels dark is full of the unknown,

I am not afraid, for you will never leave me alone.

I reach out beyond what I know, knowing we are all your children.

I am comforted knowing that you will always be there to guide me and protect me. And I comfort others in their time of pain.

You give me all I need, even as there are those who want me to believe I need more than what you provide.

I invite others to your table, I love and pray for those who would be my enemies.

You heal me, you name me as your own, and so I do what I can to heal, and to make each person know that they belong.

Your love is abundant, and you give me abundant life

And I share your abundant love with all I meet.

Your love and grace pursue me throughout my life. never letting forget my blessings and my calling.

We are not alone, We are at home in God’s world, for ever.

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