The 23rd Psalm was last week's FTE Psalm of the Week. In that post I wrote that it’s in the “valley of the shadow of death” that we know the extent of God’s love for us. It’s in the valley that He protects and cares for us. It’s from the valley that He leads us into His presence.
After posting my Psalm of the Week for this week I read an excerpt from Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation by Robert Morgan. In the excerpt Robert recounted an interview with Maurice Pink, British World War II veteran who shared his experiences as a nineteen-year-old sailor when torpedoes struck his ship on December 10, 1941. In the interview Maurice described what happened. Maurice’s description shed an entirely new light on the power of God’s word in the most difficult of circumstances. He recited the 23rd Psalm for over an hour while in the water of the “shark-infested South China Sea”, before being rescued.
Psalm 23:1-6 (NKJV)1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
Here’s what he wrote about his experience:
There are times in your life when things don’t go right and you feel all alone. That happened to me on December 10, 1941, when I was on the battle cruiser HMS Repulse with the nearby HMS Prince of Wales. We were attacked by the Japanese air force, which resulted in both ships being sunk. I found myself alone in the water, not able to see anyone else. It was then that the Twenty-third Psalm came into my head, and I realized I was not alone. I had a Shepherd. The Lord was my Shepherd; I did not need to want. I was not in green pastures, but in oily waters; but He restored my soul. Even though I was walking in the shadow of death, I was to fear no evil for He was with me.
The rod and staff did not ring a bell with me until voices above me were shouting. Looking up there was a big destroyer alongside me, HMS Electra, with nets over the side, which allowed me to climb up to safety. That was my rod and staff. I didn’t have a table set before me, but I did get a cup of the ship’s cocoa.
Since that day goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and when I think back to that day, I wonder what would have happened if I had died. There again, the psalm had the answer: I would dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Thank you, Lord, for being my Shepherd and for the Twenty-third Psalm.1
1 Maurice Pink, in a personal interview with the author, January 1, 2012. Used with permission.
Excerpted with permission from Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation by Robert Morgan, copyright Robert J. Morgan.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.