Sermon: Psalm 23 -- By: Jeffrey G. Audirsch

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 13:2 (Fall 2016)
Article: Sermon: Psalm 23
Author: Jeffrey G. Audirsch


Sermon: Psalm 23

Jeffrey G. Audirsch

Psalm 23 is arguably one of the most popular texts in the Old Testament. Given its popularity, Walter Brueggemann states, “It is almost pretentious to comment on this psalm. The grip it has on biblical spirituality is deep and genuine.”1 If Brueggemann is correct, then why would I elect to write an exposition of Ps 23? Like Brueggemann, I am certain that for many Christians the meaning of Ps 23 holds a special place in their lives. Before moving on, I think it is important to examine his words more closely. He did not say it is “pretentious to comment” on Ps 23, but rather he says, “It is almost pretentious to comment.” The word almost is vital to the sentence.

We can become so familiar with aspects of everyday life (e.g., driving, chores, exercising, etc.) that they become second nature. Many times, it is these very routines that allow us to multi-task: talk on a cell-phone while driving or washing dishes and listening to music or reading a book while running on a treadmill. In other words, we become so familiar with aspects in our daily lives that we can disengage our minds while doing them. I believe that many of the famous texts of the Bible are jeopardized by a similar disengagement of our minds—the “I know what that text means” mentality. Many times we think what the text really means is nothing more than a restating of the verses. If not careful, we can lose the theological implications of the famous texts of the Bible due to familiarity. Similarly, Patrick D. Miller understands how familiarity with Ps 23 can present issues: “The very familiarity of the psalm presents a challenge to bring it alive so that even, if not especially, those who know it well may not pass it by too quickly but will find themselves drawn afresh by its words into the safe fold of God.”2 It is for this reason that I have chosen Ps 23 as my exposition of a poetic text.

Background And Context3

Since Ps 23 is so familiar, I have decided to begin with a brief overview of the psalm. The superscription describes the psalm as “A Psalm of David.” The traditional interpretation of

the psalm is that David is fleeing from some sort of danger (i.e., an exodus...

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