Week of: May 12, 2019
Scripture: Psalm 23
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
(Psalm 23:3, NRSV)
A major theme in the Psalter is the path of righteousness. In fact, the Psalter opens with a comparison of the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous in Psalm 1. That theme sets the tone for the entire book of Psalms.
In the beloved Psalm 23, the path of righteousness appears again, reminding us that God is the one who leads us on such a path. When we follow this path, God leads us beside calming waters, walks with us through dark valleys, and prepares a table for us. The commitment to follow God means a lifetime of being in right relationship with God.
Marty Haugen's "Shepherd Me, O God" (TFWS 2058) is a gorgeous setting of this psalm. The poetry of the lyrics parallels the Psalm text perfectly. There is one line in the hymn that jumps out, though, as not having a direct parallel line within Psalm 23. For that reason, the end of verse two stands out:
My spirit shall sing the music of your name.
While the Psalm refers to being on the path for God's name's sake, it does not use imagery of our spirits singing praise as the hymn text does. It is this lovely imagery that leads us in the direction of considering how God's guidance in our life causes us to sing songs of praise. How do our spirits sing the music of God's name? Do we keep that song to ourselves or do we share it with others? How do we lead others to share the song through our varied arts?
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life. Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul. You lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth. My spirit shall sing the music of your name! Amen.
Rev. Taylor Driskill Pafford
Deacon in Full Connection
Associate Minister, Children, Youth and Families
Washington Street United Methodist Church
Photo: Memorial Chapel is seen on a sunny day during Music & Worship Arts Week 2018. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig.)