Have you ever heard someone talk about how your perspective changes depending on which word is emphasized in a sentence? I’ve heard it done with questions and the result can be very interesting. For instance, if you ask – Did she steal the bracelet? – and stress a different word each time, the whole focus of that sentence changes.
I have been doing something like this with phrases from the Bible. I am not changing the focus of the sentence, but instead gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning of the phrase. I find it a fascinating way to study, although certainly not the only way. I don’t do it all the time, but once in a while.
Let me share the process with you. For this example I’ll take the first phrase from the 23rdPsalm, The Lord is my Shepherd, a beautiful statement and one that we’ve said so many times we can forget to plumb the depths of this verse fragment.
- THE Lord is my Shepherd – THE is an article used as a function word before a noun. THE and not “A” tells me a lot. This is THE Lord. He is not one of many but the only one. “Now see the I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me…” (Deut. 32:39 NKJV) The One and only God is my Shepherd.
- The LORD is my Shepherd – LORD or Jehovah, Eternal God. “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Ex. 3:14 NKJV) God exists through time and for all time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and the end. (Rev. 22:13) I have trouble wrapping my head around Jehovah, the eternal God, and I am awed that He would choose to be my Shepherd.
- The Lord IS my Shepherd – IS, one of my favorite words to ponder. IS means present tense or happening right now. This phrase doesn’t say He “was” or He “will be” my Shepherd, but He IS. Right now. This very moment and every moment. Such a powerful meaning that gives me such comfort.
- The Lord is MY Shepherd – MY is getting personal. I love it. God is a personal Shepherd to each one of us. God is omnipresent, able to be there for each person. Proverbs 15:3 tells us, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place…” He can be there for each of us as our personal Shepherd. I love this, and love taking the time to consider all this means to me.
- The Lord is my SHEPHERD – A SHEPHERD cares for sheep. The Bible tells me I am one of God’s sheep and He is my Shepherd. A Shepherd is available to his sheep. He cares for their needs and makes sure those needs are met. He sees that they remain healthy. He keeps away predators. What a promise. What a word to ponder. In John 10:14, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” All I need I find in Jesus. He provides and He protects. He is there for me. Always. Forever.
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD. Such a simple phrase. So easy to read it quickly and not consider the true depth or meaning in the words. Yet, when you stop and think about each word in the phrase, these five words shine with God’s glory and promise.
I don’t always do this exercise in my studies, but I’ve found it’s an interesting way to focus on a scripture portion and get more meaning than when I read quickly. I hope you’ve enjoyed this and will try it on your own.