33 Comments

Thank you for drawing our attention to this interpretation, Diana. It certainly contrasts with the usual and directs us in a way that is very helpful in these times.

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How wonderful!

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Mar 22, 2023Liked by Diana Butler Bass

Diana, I was so excited to see one of Elouise's poems in your blog. She was my favorite seminary professor, teaching systematic and feminist theology, as well as other subjects. It was years later that I learned from her blog how she struggled, mostly due to having a minister father who made it his mission in life to beat the "will" out of her. I forwarded your post to her and she was flabbergasted. She'd wondered why there's been a sudden increase in her followers!

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I loved the poem. And I didn't know her work until I went hunting around the internet for the perfect piece to match this post. I was glad to find her writing. Thanks for sharing my post with her.

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Diana, Thanks so much for your writing on Psalm 23.! Nan Merrill in Psalms for Prating writes: “You prepare a table for me in the presence of all my fears!” Those words speak volumes !

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Thank you for this profound and challenging new look at a familiar, perhaps too familiar, psalm. What you say here applies also in the Greek. The ancient Septuagint translation of the Hebrew has dikaiosyne, a word that can be translated as either righteousness or justice. This is a recurring issue in English translations of the Bible. The Beatitudes are a perfect example. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for...righteousness? Wouldn’t justice be more likely what the listeners of Jesus would have understood when he used a word like sedeq? (Obviously he wouldn’t have been preaching the Beatitudes in Greek!) And then in the eighth beatitude: Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of...righteousness again? No, most likely one is persecuted for the sake of speaking and doing justice! The context also speaks for justice, rather than righteousness, in a country oppressed by Roman Empire. We have so many - too many! - translations of the Bible, it’s sad to see how rare it is to find a translation that does justice (sorry for the unintended pun) to the nuances of the original Hebrew and Greek. Thank you for alerting us to the Alter translation.

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Thank you. I remember watching the video of activist Bree Newsome taking the confederate flag down from the South Carolina state house (prior to state authorities officially doing it in 2020). She recited the 23rd psalm while being arrested. The political spirit is alive for this text in the US too!

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Thanks for your comments. I have been working my way through the Psalms , paraphrasing them as I go, using Alter's commentary as one of many guides: Here is my version of Psalm 23:

The Great Provider, The Giver of Rest

supplies all I need. What could I possibly want?

The Generous Creator brings rest as I wander

in bushland and through parks.

Tranquil lakes mesmerise and renew.

I am revived; I am brought back to life.

The way is clear to justice and integrity.

When fear and doubts are constantly present –

Immanuel – God is with me!

A banquet is prepared,

no matter who opposes me.

Hospitality overflows

and takes precedence over fear.

Mercy, grace, love, forgiveness

is always available.

Peace in God’s presence

for every day of my life!

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This familiar psalm is a manifesto for God’s reign. I’ll never read it the same way again.

Thanks!

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This can also be seen as a prayer from Christ to His Father when Christ was on earth. He depended on His Father for everything, for courage, for righteousness, for His emotional needs, for His physical sustenance; and finally when He took that dreadful walk down to Gethsemane and Calvary He trusted that His Father was with Him then, even then.

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here is my paraphrase of Ps23 with emphasis on active metaphor

Oh, my loaf-warden, husbanding-one,

Doing all I need in care and feeding,

Baking the bread of my life in my sleeping,

Springing living water beside my walking,

Healing my deepest wounding,

Walking before me into living,


Be, Cause, The One, The Lord Mamma-Daddy, JHWH,

Is, I Am, How it is, Ultimate Other, Ground of all Being.

Stumbling tho I go in a great downer,

Overshadowing me the fearing of my own dying,


The powering of evil shall not conquer,
For the lord JHWH IS, God with me,


Rescuing me with a curving tree limb,


Lifting me up to an iron measuring rod,


Including me in a joyous celebration,
While I am filling myself with fear and hating,


Dressing may hair with holy oil,


Signing me with the sign of the wholly one,


Filling the cup of my living,
brimming up and sloshing over.

Therefore, will I shield my neighbor

Neither from sun of justice
nor rein of mercy


Nor wind of humility, nor fire of fidelity,


Finding my life, time and place beyond bounding


In the house and arms of my husbanding one, my loaf warden.

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Thank you for opening this Word to greater, fuller, more faithful understandings. In the ancient Biblical world a king was often seen as the shepherd of the people, and this is a fitting reminder of the true nature of that responsibility, much like the many other psalms of David.

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Thank you, Diana, for sharing these unique perspectives of the well-loved biblical passage Psalm 23. As a follower of the Urantia Revelation (Urantia meaning ‘earth’), I’d love to share this beautiful version as recorded in The Urantia Book, with brief preface:

48:6.7 These seraphic evangels are dedicated to the proclamation of the gospel of eternal progression, the triumph of perfection attainment… No act of good is ever wholly lost. Even on Urantia they counsel the human teachers of truth and righteousness to adhere to the preaching of “the goodness of God, which leads to repentance,” to proclaim “the love of God, which casts out all fear.” Even so have these truths been declared on your world…

…the story whispered in the night season to the shepherd boy. He could not retain it word for word, but to the best of his memory he gave it much as it is recorded today:

The Gods are my caretakers; I shall not stray;

Side by side they lead me in the beautiful paths and glorious refreshing of life everlasting.

I shall not, in this Divine Presence, want for food nor thirst for water.

Though I go down into the valley of uncertainty or ascend up into the worlds of doubt,

Though I move in loneliness or with the fellows of my kind,

Though I triumph in the choirs of light or falter in the solitary places of the spheres,

Your good spirit shall minister to me, and your glorious angel will comfort me.

Though I descend into the depths of darkness and death itself,

I shall not doubt you nor fear you,

For I know that in the fullness of time and the glory of your name

You will raise me up to sit with you on the battlements on high.

--Pamela Chaddock

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How does one read this psalm 23 to a Person living in an unjust world! One who is in the shadows of hopelessness. One suffering poverty, violence, and war. Where is the shepherd or when will the shepherd come to lead them to these GREEN PASTURES promised in this psalm. Are these words not just a fairy tale to them? How would they respond

Psalm 23 has always be one of comfort for me, I feel I live among GREEN Pastures,and feel God’s love through others, and through opportunities for gratitude and service.

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So happy to remember that others not as blessed and fortunate as I find their own ways to understand and live by the comfort of these words. Sad to say that I am so accustomed to reading this Psalm "my way", that I glossed over the meanings of Alter's version until they were explained to me. I will meditate in the coming days on how many ways there are to interpret Psalm 23. Thank you, Diana.

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Amen and amen

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Diana Butler Bass

Having just watched documentary on Grace Lee Boggs (PBS); I wonder if we are not meant to invite our enemies to the table and have conversation, perhaps even reconciliation?

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