A few weeks ago in my preaching class, the professor asked for volunteers to read Scripture aloud in front of the class. As terrified as I was to get up and speak in front of the class in the second week of the semester, I was more determined to conquer my fear of public speaking, so I raised my hand and timidly climbed the stairs to the platform. My task was simple: read the first two verses of Psalm 23 aloud. Seemed easy enough, until my professor asked me to put emphasis on different parts of the verses, almost like I was in a drama. I recited the verse aloud a total of 7 times that evening. It was amazing what the Lord did in my heart and in the hearts of my classmates as I declared these simple words:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
After about the third reading, my heart was stirring with emotion and tears welled up in my eyes. I have heard these exact verses dozens of times, and have read them just as many. Why were they affecting my heart and the hearts around me in such a way? The difference was in the way I read the words. The most moving to me was when Dr. Bird asked me to emphasize the nouns: Lord, my, shepherd, I, etc. It made it so much more personal, to the extent that I only heard the personal pronouns: The Lord is MY shepherd; I shall not want. He makes ME lie down in green pastures. He leads ME beside quiet waters.
As I was reading the words penned by King David so long ago, I realized that those words were not just for David in the midst of his trouble. They are for me. Right now. In 2013. In Nyack, New York. The same God who was David's shepherd makes me lie down in green pastures. The very God who led David beside quiet waters restores my soul by doing the same. How can I not find peace in that? The Lord watches over me like a shepherd watches over His sheep. He provides everything I need. He shows me where and when to rest and leads me to still and quiet places when my heart is weary.