Dwell: Psalm 23

When God handed me ‘dwell’ as my word for 2022, I anticipated learning what it means to dwell in God. I looked forward to digging into Scriptures, like Psalm 91, for great enlightenment and for inner transformation. And, I’ve not been disappointed.

In the early days of January, I spent hours scouring the Bible to discover all the ways the Hebrew and Greek languages utilize the word, ‘dwell.’ Sometimes it’s used to mean ‘inhabit,’ like a house or a nation. Or a tabernacle. Other times it alludes to a long stay–to ‘remain.’ As in remaining with someone who grieves or in a town for more than a visit. Or in God’s purposes.

The more I explored these nuances, the more I felt a desire rising up within me. I wanted to actually inhabit God’s presence. I wanted to remain with Him in the holiest and most intentional ways. But how?

So, this summer I set out to search what it means to have this abiding life–to love God with all my heart and mind, body and spirit. Abiding in Christ is as holistic as it is holy. It’s surrendering my will for His. It’s trusting Him–even when I’m tempted to doubt or tripped up by distraction. It’s engaging in practices and prayers as rhythms in my life so that I can ebb and flow as the Spirit leads and life dictates, remaining steady in those rhythms, not dipping in and out when it’s convenient or easy.

The abiding life is the dying-to-self kind of faith (Galatians 2:20). It’s the giving over myself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). To dwell with God is to enter His presence in prayer and to remain there, in my heart and mind, for all the day. To dwell in Christ is to live from a trust that He is in me (1 Corinthians 3:16). And I in Him.

I no longer feel anxious to learn more about dwelling with God. Instead, I long to do it.

But, I know life. Its busyness and hurry. Its distractions and disappointments. Its pain and temptations. I know myself. My failure of focus and fears. My apathy and love of human accolades. My selfish tendencies and self-reliance. My. Lack. Of. Trust. In. God.

Photo by joseph d’mello on Unsplash

Here I am. Laying myself at the feet of my Shepherd, fully honest with myself and Him. Knowing I’m far from where I want to be as His daughter and disciple. Yet willing to grow and believe and be led. As a sheep.

And, so, I fix my gaze on Psalm 23. A chapter my mother memorized in the King James decades ago. A chapter I used to only hear recited at funerals. A chapter that has come to mean peace and faith and hope to me. A chapter that now beckons me to fully enter. And dwell.

I extend an invitation to you. Let us dwell in the Psalm of the Good Shepherd this fall. Allowing it to dwell in us and do its work in us. So that we, the flock who follow the voice of our Shepherd, can immerse ourselves in the abiding life.

We’ll lean into the practices that call us deeper still. 
We’ll posture ourselves in the presence of God. And be still.
We’ll bow our heads or look toward heaven and pray.
We’ll surrender body, mind, heart, and spirit to the One who leads.
We’ll band with fellow flockers to find grace and love and strength.
We’ll relinquish pride and fear for humility and faith.
We’ll trade regret and shame for hope and joy.
We’ll fall into rhythm with the Shepherd before us. And trust.

Come, let us dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Lord Jesus, thank You for your invitation to follow You. We know that You are good. We know that You have in mind only good for us. We know that we can trust You and follow wherever You lead. Our Good Shepherd, we pick ourselves up off the muddy ground we’ve been lying in and move toward your voice. We’re ready to accept this new life You offer–a life of transcendent peace and complete joy. We surrender our will for yours because we know (oh, we know) that You really do know the best paths, the greenest pastures, and the stillest waters. We know that even when life gets hard and the valleys have to be traversed, YOU WILL BE WITH US. So we choose to believe You, Jesus. We choose to leave behind our old thoughts and feelings and habits for this new life with You and in You. Jesus, be our Shepherd. We are your sheep. In your name we pray, amen.
(Inspired by 1 Chronicles 16:34, Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 10:11-18, Philippians 4:7, John 15:11, Psalm 23)

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  • Welcome to this new series called DWELL. Thank you for coming alongside me as we seek to dwell in God and His Word–as we journey together through Psalm 23. I know God goes with us and leads us into deeper abiding in Him.
    • We’ll dwell in this most-known Psalm for about twelve weeks, which should take us right up to Advent. (I know. Don’t think about how close Christmas is. Let’s remain in the moment.)
  • Rhythms: In much the way a song’s tempo is steady, we want to remain firm in spiritual practices that keep us in step with our Shepherd. Yet, just as various songs have varying rhythms–allegro, adagio, syncopation–we’ll rest in the rhythms of the Spirit. We’ll remain steady. We’ll rest in rhythms.
    • One rhythm we’ll enter into this season is to memorize Psalm 23. Don’t panic! This is a rhythm. Not an exam. Maybe you put to memory one verse, or three, or all six. You’ll be surprised how many verses and phrases you already know. When I learned that Beth Moore memorized the entirety of Galatians, I believed I could memorize Psalm 23. So, let’s give it a go! And when we do, it’ll forever be at the ready.
  • Resources: I love sharing with you the books, podcasts, articles, and anything else that has inspired, encouraged, or taught me. These are humble offerings with no expectations.
    • One resource I offer with every series is a playlist. It’s been a joy collecting and curating songs that find their roots in Psalm 23. Music helps us enter into God’s presence, learn His Word, and experience His joy. So, I offer you Dwell: Psalm 23.
    • If you’d like to have a book to bolster your study of this Psalm, I’ll tap into Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 periodically. And, it’s free on Kindle right now!
    • There’s also an incredible 40-day devotion called While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks.* I’ve read it twice and have passed copies along as gifts. And, you’ll hear me reference it in this series, I’m sure.
  • We’re a flock. We’re a fellowship of believers. We’re a community. Know that you are not alone. You’ll walk these paths with Christ at your side and your sisters hemmed around you.
    • As you feel led, share in the comment section. Let us know how God is leading you. And how we can be praying for you. Ask questions. And share your thoughts.
    • I hope you’ll invite someone to join our flock. All sheep need the Good Shepherd.

Featured Photo by Jessica Anderson on Unsplash
*an affiliate link with which I might earn a bit

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

6 thoughts on “Dwell: Psalm 23

  1. Shelley, I love this! I memorized Psalm 23 as a child but like you, associated it with funerals. After doing Jennifer Rothschild’s Psalm 23 study last summer I have a whole new appreciation for “green pastures” and “still waters”. Thank you for your beautiful words!

  2. Your post and the words of your prayer is exactly what I needed to hear IN this moment! The Lord knew…I read this when my heart was hungry and ready to receive this message.💜

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