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A Psalm as Salve for the Modern World

by Jacki Lyden
Dec 26, 2004 (All Things Considered)

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Violent conflicts that have continued through the holiday season have left many seeking solace. Rabbi and author Harold Kushner says one source that could help people of different faiths is Psalm 23, the famous "the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" psalm. Hear Kushner and NPR's Jacki Lyden.

Kushner has spoken the words of the twenty-third Psalm of David many times over his 40 years as a rabbi. But he was inspired to re-examine this prayer by the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001. The passage is only 57 words in Hebrew, and about twice that many in English. But Kushner says he came to see the prayer as a poem in three acts.

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Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

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