THE LORD IS – Psalm 23 – Part 1

El Señor Es – Salmos 23 – Parte 1

By Mary Hunt Webb

Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A photographic image of a shepherd and his sheep.

While the sheep eat their fill, the shepherd stands watch to guard them from harm. [Photo courtesy of]

Every year, I read the Bible from cover to cover. As I march through Exodus with the Israelites and head toward Leviticus each year, I inevitably find that I am willing to read six or more chapters instead of the usual three or four in order to hasten my arrival at the Psalms. I know that I am not alone in my fondness for them. There is good reason that the Psalms are called the Poetical Book of the Bible. Their cries from the heart still speak to us across the centuries.

As if that preference were not enough, the Psalm that stands out as the most favorite is Psalm 23. Every month, people search our website for references to that beloved chapter that equates our relationship with God to that of a sheep with its shepherd.

Since my name is Mary, I feel a special connection with sheep because of the American nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I have even given a talk by that name to a number of groups.

A photographic image of Mary Hunt Webb speaking in Cortez, Colorado, while a stuffed lamb rests on the podium).

Mary Hunt Webb speaks to a group, while a cuddly lamb toy rests on the podium. [Photographer: Morris S. Webb, Jr.]

Consequently, the Lord has been directing my husband and me to present some thoughts to you about Psalm 23. Although each posting will have a different title, the weeks to come will focus on different portions of Psalm 23. For now, we will begin with Psalm 23:1.

The Lord is…

The opening of Psalm 23 beckons us with these words in verse 1: "The Lord is…"

What does that verse mean when it refers to our Creator as "The Lord"? In a royal kingdom, the title, "lord" refers to one having authority and rank over others. However, the term goes back even farther to a time when the ownership of land and property came from the king of the realm. Initially, the king owned it all, but it was his to bestow on others of rank. As a result, that ownership carried with it both authority over others and responsibility to those that were dependent on the title-bearer. A "lord" was a responsible person, one that could be depended upon, and one that could be turned to in times of difficulty.

Such a person exists among us in modern society as a "landlord" that owns rental property. Unfortunately, not every person who carries that title does so responsibly. We hear every day of landlords that fail to take care of their property or of the people that rent from them. Some even take advantage of their renters.

However, I would like to share with you a memory of a benevolent landlord that has remained a role model for that title.

When I was young, my mother was a widow working to rear, educate, and provide for us, her children. We lived in a one-bedroom duplex that we rented from a man I remember as Mr. L.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, a duplex is a house that contains two separate dwellings under one roof. Those dwellings share one interior wall so that they stand side by side. This is different from an apartment building that contains two or more units on different levels and that requires stairs or an elevator.

In addition to the family that lived on the other side of that wall from us, a third family lived in an apartment over the three garages that stood behind the communal backyard that we all shared.

Although we made our home in one of those dwellings, the property belonged to Mr. L. As the landlord, he had all of the responsibility of ownership, but the only enjoyment he had was from the collection of rent payments. If there were plumbing problems, he suspended whatever he was doing in order to arrive at our back door with a plunger, wrenches, and other tools. When the job was done, he left. During the spring and summer, he was there every other Saturday to mow the lawn.

The only other times we saw him were at the first of each month when he arrived to collect the rent. He maintained personal contact with his renters by collecting the rent in person. This gave his renters the opportunity to tell him of small things that needed repair. He was also able to observe that his renters were maintaining their dwellings properly. However, he seldom stayed longer than 10 minutes.

I understand that not every landlord is like Mr. L, but that experience with a caring, considerate one helped me to understand the caring nature of God. As our Creator, God cares about you and me far more than Mr. L. cared for the people that lived on his property. We live on this beautiful Earth that is God's creation. The very first verse in the Bible assures us of that. Genesis 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." He owns it all. Not only that, but we are also His precious handiwork so that we belong to Him as well. Everything we have, and everything we are, is on loan from Him. Even homeowners among us that hold the title to their dwellings are, in reality, living in and on borrowed property that is on loan from God.

A photographic image of a house on a knoll in southern Indiana.

Everything we have and everything we are is on loan from Him. (This photo was taken while traveling to visit family members in the Midwest.) [Photographer: Mary Hunt Webb.]

We acknowledge God's authority as our Creator when we speak the first three words of Psalm 23, "The Lord is." We can rearrange the words to affirm that, "He is the Lord." Those initial few words of this beloved Psalm acknowledge His existence as well as His position as our Creator and Master.

Psalm 23:1 does not say, "The Lord was." He did not abandon us after creating us; He is still there and is still interested in us and in the daily happenings in our lives. As a result of His special relationship with us, we can turn to Him in times of need. He created us so that He knows how we are made. He knows every muscle, sinew, and fiber that holds us together.

Some of us are put together with unique parts. Those that have twelve digits on both hands or both feet are not a surprise to Him. Neither are those with one kidney, two blood types in the same veins, weak knees, malfunctioning organs, nor teeth growing in parts of the body other than in the mouth – as my dentist recently related. Such unusual occurrences do not surprise God because He is in control and in charge. That is why we say that He is the Lord. We must trust that God has a reason for allowing such unusual construction. It does no good to fret, worry, or assign blame in such situations. When we thank Him and trust Him, He will honor us for our trust and appreciation.

Although we will continue looking at Psalm 23:1 next week, Morris and I hope that we have provided new insight to the opening words in that verse. Remember that when you say, "The Lord is," you acknowledge God's existence as well as His authority in your life and in the lives of all of us. Trust Him because He is Lord!

Bible Verses for the Week

Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is…" (New King James Version)

Salmos 23:1 "Jehová es…" (Reina-Valera 1960)

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (New King James Version)

Génesis 1:1 "En el principio creó Dios los cielos y la tierra." (Reina-Valera 1960)

A photographic image of a winter sunrise in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

God created the heavens and the earth. Everything belongs to Him. [Photographer: Mary Hunt Webb.]

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