Word of the Month

Comfort in the Psalms

July 2007

Whenever I talk to people in distress, who are going through difficulties and are in search of divine comfort, I draw their attention to a passage from the Psalms where it says: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” This wonderful 23rd Psalm of King David is often mentioned at confirmations or other acts of blessing. It has practically become universal in its application.

David certainly also made - and related - some completely different sorts of experiences. He was also familiar with feelings other than this strong surety of faith and the feeling of security in the hand of God. In the Psalm directly before this one we read: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent” (Psalm 22: 1). These are bitter words which really do not seem consistent with the statement: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” On the one hand we thus find a strong certainty of faith and on the other we see a lament.

David was not always as sure and confident of where he was going as it may often seem to us. He also lived through dark moments, through periods of uncertainty in which he was plagued by gloomy thoughts. But that did nothing to change the fact that he was a blessed man who was beloved of God.

We too live through moments in which we are thankful and happy, when we rejoice in the knowledge: “The Lord is my Shepherd!” But there are also times we find ourselves in need and even despair and ask: “Dear God, have You forsaken me?” Now comes the beautiful part: none of this changes the fact that we are children of God, that the Lord loves us, and that He wishes to lead us to perfection. To know this and to have it verified gives us an assurance which nothing and no one can take from us.

Therefore let us not become discouraged when we are at times exposed to concerns and needs, or when we must bear a heavy burden. Let us remember: David and the witnesses of faith of the old covenant did not have it any easier than we do! They too had their battles. They too lived through days of despair, when their concerns became overwhelming. There is nothing unusual about the fact that we too must live through such circumstances. But let us be assured that whatever happens, the Lord will stand by us! We are His property. Those who remain faithful and depend upon the Lord even in trials, those who strive to do the will of God, they will also become worthy for the truly great day when Christ will return, the beginning of eternal delight.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)