This poem reflects what is for me one of my experiences of what is known by many as “the mystery of the Gospel.” Reading any of the scriptures can be an amazing experience, because it is never the same twice, even though many times we are unaware of the subtleties of difference.
Beneath my poem I have printed a paraphrase (as opposed to “translation”) of the 23rd Psalm. I enjoy and am often enlightened by different renderings of the Bible. They are frequently very different from one another because it is my belief that God reveals himself uniquely to each of us, and opens our eyes to the infinite layers of the Word as we grow in our ability and willingness to understand what God has to say to us. I am always trying to listen and understand. More than anything, I believe God wants each of us to know that we are known, cared for, and LOVED.
A New Page
How does it happen, again and again
with words that I know I have read before.
Like buying what I think is a brand new book
And finding out that I already owned it,
Have read it, loved it, committed to memory,
Recited repeatedly to once again savor.
Devouring other translations or paraphrases –
Interpretations by scholars who offered a key.
Reading, re-reading, at last laying it aside
Confident my study had caused it to yield
All that it held and had wanted to teach.
I go on to search for newer lessons for me.
Now this group of lines, I knew I knew!
I’d spent hours studying, poring over it,
Like an archeologist sifting through sand.
I had read it for myself, or listened intently
To the same words, memorizing chapter and verse
Obsessed with treasure-hunting, I’d ached to discover it.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
How can these words surprise and transform?
Have I really failed, or missed the point?
But here before me a brand new page
As new as words never written before;
Unseen clouds clear from an unknown storm.
And so in amazement, I start again
Reading this ancient song, brand new,
It tells me that even more than my needs
My shepherd and guide fulfills my desires,
An ornament of love now sings in my soul
My needs and my wants are one, not two.
PSALMS 23, A psalm of David, As paraphrased by Eugene H. Peterson in “The Message”
Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002
23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
And send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.