Psalm 23 (part 2)

1 Comment » Written on May 7th, 2009     
Filed under: Church Year, Formation, The Psalms

James Limburg has a wonderful commentary on the Psalms. The following reflections about the original Hebrew text come from Limburg’s comments.

At the center of Psalm 23 is a most encouraging phrase: for you are with me. Limburg notes that leading up to the phrase, there are precisely 26 Hebrew words. Additionally, there are exactly 26 words from the end of the phrase to the end of the Psalm. The preposition, “for you are with me” is at the center of the 23rd Psalm.

Was the writer centering this phrase to symbolize the centrality of the concept—God is with me? I hope so! I very much like the idea, and if this placement is mere accident, I’m disappointed, indeed.:)

The idea that God is with us is communicated over and over at the high points of Scripture. The Lord comforts Isaac with the words, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Gen. 26.24). We know from Genesis 39 that God was with Joseph in Egypt. God told a hesitant Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you” (Jer. 1.8 and 15.20). God spoke to Paul in a dream: “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you” (Acts 18.9-10).

The most powerful revelation of God’s nearness is Jesus: “and they shall name him ‘Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us’” (Matt. 1.23).

In worship we say, “The Lord be with you.” The closeness of God is the central to our life and faith.

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One Response to “Psalm 23 (part 2)”

Your comments led me back to Moses’ conversation with God, in Exodus 33.15-16. Moses seems to imply that God’s presence with His people is a key distinctive – maybe the singular Hallmark of God’s people.
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33 NIV, copyrights acknowledged)

so God’s presence is definitely central in life as well as this Psalm, and (we might say) vital and essential, too.

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