Editor’s Note: I often find myself blinded to the meaning of Bible passages simply because I have heard them again and again. The more familiar the passage becomes, the easier it is for me to overlook its meaning. My goal in these paraphrases is to regain a sense for the significance of these Psalms by rewriting them in my own words. I hope that in reading them you are encouraged to do the same.
I need help, so I’m looking up, up to the highest thing I can see.
Right now it’s just the Tennessee hills,
but that’s the closest I can get to Heaven, where you are.
I know my help comes from you because you made this place.
You made the blue sky and the chock-full earth.
And I know you won’t let me slip,
even when it’s my fault that I stepped on the wrong foothold.
I know you can take care of everything
because you never have to stop taking care.
Yes, you’re the one that takes care of me;
you’re always there, and you’re always awake, too.
Yes, you take care of me;
you are a place of refuge from the burning sun of stress and work and school
and everything else I can’t figure out for myself.
Because of you I know it won’t bring me down.
I won’t die by its heat
or by its haunting residue that shines over me, even at night.
You will protect me from everything that tries to destroy me;
you will keep the deepest parts of me from falling apart.
Everything I do will be shielded by your hand;
wherever I go you will protect me.
And all of this will go on and on without end.
You’re the God who puts the flame on the piece of wax I hold out to you.
Somehow you know where the light switch is in any room.
I know you’re strong because with you, I’ve run.
Not away from my enemies, but straight at them.
Together we have jumped higher than I ever could by myself;
we’ve leapt straight over walls that for years I tried to scale alone.
Every single step you take is the right one.
Every turn on the path you lead me down is flawless.
Your words have been trusted before, and they’ve held weight every time —
anyone’s weight, my weight.
It’s a proven fact: you’re trustworthy like a shield made of diamond,
as bright as a star.
No one can take your place.
You’re like a mountain, steady through the seasons.
And you are the one that makes these weak arms strong.
You help these stumbling feet walking down the flawless path in any situation.
You’ve given me new feet even, tough like a deer;
so unlike mine that after all these miles I look back,
and it’s like you’ve lifted me up in your hand
and set me right at the top of the mountain I was trying to climb.