Revisiting Psalm 23

18 Sep

If I were to ask you to fill in the blank of this next statement what would you say?

God is ___________________.

I’m guessing you might answer that God is:
love
holy
just
merciful
righteous.

You might even go a little deeper and say that God is:
omnipotent (all powerful)
omniscient (all-knowing),
omnipresent (everywhere).

But here is the question. When you close your eyes what comes to your mind when you hear these words? The scriptures use them so they are fair descriptions of what God is but they can be hard to tangibly grasp. They might even feel to brief or incomplete. It is hard to mention that God is just with out mentioning that he is loving. It is as if one description demands another with it to feel complete.

To a Jew the answer to this fill in the blank is easy…
God is my Shepherd
God is my Rock
God is my Fortress
God is Living Water
God is Eagles Wings

When I say these words the images come to your mind because they are just that, images. And they are relational. You don’t have to say that God is my Shepherd and just or that God is Living Water and holy. The image can stand on its own.

Not to simplify too much but the western mind focuses on formulas, creeds and precise statements while the eastern mind feeds off of images and metaphors. Ray Vanderlaan says, “Hebrew thinkers express truth concretely, using word pictures and stories. They prefer the writing style of poetry and like to use imagery and symbolism. Western thinkers usually express truth abstractly, using words, idea, and logical definitions. They prefer the writing style of prose, and like to see outlines, lists, and bullet points.”

In preparing for a talk I am doing at our 20’s and 30’s night on Thursday at Crosswalk I am revisiting Psalm 23 to see what would happen to this ancient song if I looked at it through the lens of what it meant to be a shepherd in the wilderness.

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