I Got Rhythm

As a kid, I always struggled to understand the opening line of the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (NRSV) Although I never had the courage to ask, my kid-brain always wondered, “If the Lord’s my Shepherd, then why don’t I want him?”

Two happy lambs in a grassy meadow.

The light bulb finally flicked on when I was thirteen and given a new Bible that read: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not lack.” (MLB) The different wording cleared up my confusion but I also realized the variance in punctuation – a semi-colon instead of a comma – indicating a slightly different rhythm of speech could have done it as well!

I once heard a music professor say, “If you’re struggling with a passage of music, playing it, singing it, or writing it, it’s most likely a rhythmic problem. Figure out the rhythms and you’ll conquer the passage.” Often I’ve found his words to ring true in music and in life. Any time I feel challenged, I’ve learned to step back and take a fresh look at the timing to see if it’s right.

Sometimes a change in rhythm can make all the difference.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
– Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)