This Psalm is perhaps one of the best-known poems in English literature, and certainly one of the most familiar pieces in the Bible. When Jewish people start out there day of rest each week, they use this Psalm as part of their opening of that special day, because of its tone of quieting yourself down after a hectic week. At the end of the Sabbath they have another little service in which they make the transition into the new week of work, and at that service they read Psalm 121 which has more of a tone of gearing up for the new week.
The elements of being looked after, provided for, protected from predators, and generally related to are very common dimensions of human life in all ages. I had an Old Testament professor who used to say that the Psalms were great literature, but when things were going bad for us, they were superb.
I find it interesting that almost 50% of the references in this list come from the book of Psalms – the old Hebrew hymnbook. I know a Jewish cantor (worship leader) who says that religious music has a task to do – and if it doesn’t doit's task, regardless of how beautiful it is, if it is pretty much irrelevant. He said that in his opinion the task for religious music is to create an opening for people and God to connect with each other. The Psalms are the words of a collection of pieces of sacred music.
This particular piece of poetry has a special meaning for me in that it was while reading this Psalm when I was a boy at the Lake, I first experienced a sense of something other than me and the universe – an experience which put me onto a better course in life than I otherwise would have taken.