Gratitude Day 633

Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.

If there is one passage of scripture that folks are most familiar with, it is the 23rd Psalm.

It’s the scripture most requested for funerals. As I have sat with families in the last moments of a loved one’s life, these are the words they want to hear. They are often the words people turn to for comfort, whether they consider themselves fully religious or not.

The most familiar translation of Psalm 23 is the King James Version, which begins: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I know people who insist that the “real” translation of the Bible is the King James Version. And then, there are people like me who feel the “thee” and the “thou’s” and the “shall’s” just are a bit too much. I prefer to read and hear scripture that uses words I would use in my everyday language; not words I hear during a Shakespeare play.

Except for the 23rd Psalm. Most often, we still go back to the King James version.

I think we use this translation because it’s the one we’ve heard for years. Yet, I believe that we can discover more about this particular passage of scripture when we look at other translations. Ones that may resonate more with our everyday language today.

Last spring, a friend gave me a different translation of the Bible. It’s called The Passion Translation. While the entire New Testament has been translated, not all of the Old Testament has been completed. However, there are a few Old Testament books available, including the Psalms.

If you follow the 2021 Scripture Reading Calendar – The Wisdom Books, then you would find yourself in the Psalms right now. This past week, I read Psalm 23. I have been using The Passion Translation for daily scripture reading this year. And I think the translation of this psalm is so interesting:

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
    I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
    His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
    He opens before me the right path
    and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
    so that I can bring honor to his name.
Even when your path takes me through
    the valley of deepest darkness,
    fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
    Your authority is my strength and my peace.
    The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
    I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast
    even when my enemies dare to fight.
    You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
    you give me all I can drink of you until my cup overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
    Only goodness and tender love pursue me all the days of my life.
    Then afterward, when my life is through,
    I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

Now, go back through the psalm again. Pick out a few phrases that really speak to you. Write them down or note them someplace. Look at just those phrases that speak to you. What do they say?

For example, one phrase that I really appreciate is verse 2a:

He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.

What a beautiful picture this is for me: resting in God’s luxurious love. Just for me.

As I have read this psalm the last few days, I’m discovering new ways of how these words speak to me. I love thinking of the Lord as my best friend. I want to spend time with God near a quiet brook of bliss. And I certainly look forward to return to God’s glorious presence to be forever with God!

As familiar as these words are for many of us, hearing them in a slightly way can bring new depth to these words. We’ve been taught to think of the Lord as our shepherd. But as our best friend? A different level of intimacy with God.

Or when we’re feeling isolated, maybe verse 4b is helpful: I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

Even if you really prefer the King James version, I hope you’ll take a few minutes and look at this translation. There is much to gain and learn and discover by seeing how every language can be translated a different way. Some feel there are translations that are “true” to the original Hebrew language. I think looking at a variety of translations actually helps us see the depth and breadth of the words.

And this happened again with the 23rd Psalm.

If you are interest in The Passion Translation, here’s link to a version on Amazon.

If you aren’t using the 2021 Bible Reading Plan, it’s not too late. Just print off this schedule and dive in.

For new words and ways to read scripture, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Dear God – Often, we get comfortable with hearing scripture in one particular way. This isn’t all bad. Yet sometimes it is so refreshing to hear familiar words in a new way. May this different translation of the 23rd Psalm speak to me. Amen.

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