This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series A Psalm of David
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
THERE’S PEACE IN THE VALLEY (PSALM 23:4)
Joseph Addison was one of the finest English essayists of the eighteenth century. He dabbled in politics but because he was shy and embarrassingly clumsy, he never went any farther than being a cabinet member. Once he tried to speak before Parliament, but he stuttered, stammered, blushed, coughed, apologized, sat down, and never tried it again.
F.S. Boreham notes that there were two things Addison was passionately fond of. He loved the fields and streams of his home county, and he loved Psalm 23. In fact, Addison wrote paraphrases of both Psalm 23 and Psalm 19, which were published in the Spectator Magazine in 1712.
Addison had learned Psalm 23 at his mother’s knee. As a writer he always treasured its exquisite writing, and as a Christian he revered its message. Lord Thomas Macauley eulogized Addison in this way: “He loved the psalm which represents the Ruler of all things under the endearing image of a shepherd, whose crook guides the flock through gloomy and desolate glens to meadows well watered and rich in herbage.”
As Addison lay dying at the age of forty-seven, he clung to the promise of Psalm 23:4: “I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Knowing his death was imminent, he sent for his son-in-law, the earl of Warwick, who was a sheep gone astray. When the earl arrived, Addison said, “See in what peace a Christian can die.”
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bower’s bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ‘tis his hand that leadeth me.
JOSEPH H. GILMORE
Petersen, William and Petersen, Randy. One Year Book of Psalms. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1999.