There are times when familiarity is a good thing. Strength, comfort, and rest are found in safe, familiar places.
The same can be said for familiar passages of Scripture. There are verses and promises we rest on when life takes a detour. However, there is also the potential that the familiar passages are simply comforting because they are well-known, instead of pointing us back toward God Himself.
A perfect example of this is Psalm 23. Most Christians, especially those of us raised in the church, can rattle off at least the opening verse with ease:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
If you’re used to the King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, or the New International Version ’84, then these words are very familiar. I’ve realized in this past week, that for me…they’re too familiar.
This week, I’ve focused on reading Psalm 23, but in the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. It’s a modern translation which does a good job of balancing the words of the original Scripture language and the author’s intended meaning of the original words. The new-to-me phrasing of this familiar psalm has been a great stimulus for me to think about my relationship with God.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.
When you look up the original Hebrew text, the HCSB translation is true to the author’s chosen words. Did you notice the phrases that are different from the older, familiar translations?
Take some time to think through these new-to-you words and concepts. As you meditate on this psalm, allow the words to deepen your relationship with God.