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Psalm 23


A Devotional by John Tapley


Karen Schoeppach asked me I would write a devotional. I thought about it for a while, and I want to share some feelings about a favorite psalm of mine: Psalm 23.

I enjoy this psalm for a number of reasons. One, the beauty it describes and two, what it can teach us about life in general and our own lives, in particular. I can imagine David, the Shepherd writing this psalm while tending his sheep. They say that a shepherd knows all of his sheep by name and if one goes missing, the shepherd will hunt until he finds the missing one. One of the things I have learned regarding sheep over the years is that they are not the brightest animals in the world. Sheep are followers, not leaders. Some of the folks I knew when we lived in a small town in Iowa, tended sheep. They told me that goats are a leader, so they would tie a bell around the neck of a goat and get the goat started into the corral and the sheep would follow. They usually referred to this goat as the “judas goat.” I realized that we are a lot like sheep. We tend to follow the “judas goat” on a whim and we usually end up being lost. Also, some of our decisions are not always the brightest. Thank God that we have a shepherd that knows us by name and will go to all lengths to find us and return us to the safety of the fold. Jesus holds us and leads us like the “good Shepherd” that He is.


Another reason this psalm has always been important to me is in my career, I have worked with many families that have “walked through the valley of the shadow of death” and this psalm has helped me to help them through that dark valley. However, a very important thought was presented to me recently. It was pointed out that if they are walking through this shadow of death, there has to be a light source above them. You can’t have a shadow in a totally dark area. That light, shining from above, is the light we have in our lives, and it is what creates that shadow and gives us the hope and faith in our God. We know that our Good Shepherd will always carry us through our lives. We can walk through that shadow, knowing that our savior knows our name and will find us.

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