I was looking for a book in my office when I came across a book buried on my shelf of “devotionals” and what not. The book is Psalms Now by Leslie F. Brandt.
From the dust jacket: What would the psalm writers say if they lived in our times? What words would they use to express their prayers? How would their songs reflect the same truth in a different age?
I’m sure everyone knows how Psalm 23 reads. Here it is in the KJV.
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’s 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 anointest 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 for ever.
One would expect to hear this Psalm at a funeral service, with the promise of God’s salvation attached with it. Now here is the “psalm” from Psalms Now.
The Lord is my constant companion. There is no need that He cannot fulfill. Whether His course for me points to the mountaintops of glorious joy or to the valleys of human suffering, He is by my side. He is ever present with me. He is close beside me when I tread the dark streets of danger, and even when I flirt with death itself, He will not leave me. When the pain is severe, He is near to comfort. When the burden is heavy, He is there to lean upon. When depression darkens my soul, He touches me with eternal joy. When I feel empty and alone, He fills the aching vacuum with His power. My security is in His promise to be near me always and in the knowledge that He will never let me go.
I first heard this paraphrase in the summer of 2001 at a “Lutheran” church in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Granted, this is a paraphrase and the author takes some latitude with his wording, I have to disagree with his choice of wording on one part. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (KJV)” vs. “and even when I flirt with death itself (PN)” are two separate things. During ones life, there will be trials and tribulations, temptations and sorrows. That is something that we must live with because of sin. Fortunate for us, the LORD is there to protect and comfort us. In the Psalms Now version, the author talks about flirting with death itself. I’m sorry, but no one in their right mind would purposely go out and run on the interstate just to see if God will protect them. Unfortunately, what the author did was turn great words of comfort into some “happy-clappy ‘god'” who is there to pick you up and dust the dirt off of you. That is not what the true God of the Old Testament is. He is a loving Father who, because His creation was destroyed by Satan’s temptation, sent His Son into the world to purge death from creation forever by His death and resurrection. Where is that God in Psalms Now?