Misunderstood Verses

One of the lessons that I do with the boys for school is memory verses. I have a great book with Bible verses, catechism questions, and such by age. I’m really enjoying it, and the boys are doing well with memorizing. (Of course, young brains have so much less information to remember, so it’s so much easier for them.)

One of the verses is Psalm 23:1. Since we are using the ESV, the verse is “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” This is the same as the NAS verse I memorized as a child. I remember very, very well that this verse confused me.

I heard it this way: The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. As in, He is the Shepherd, but I don’t want Him. Now, even in my very early understanding of the Bible, I understood that everything in the Bible was true, so I knew this had to be true. I knew that Jesus was our Shepherd, and that that was a good thing. So for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why we would not want Him as our Shepherd, not to mention why we would say such a thing in Scripture.

Every time we talked about the passage or did the memory verse, I would puzzle over it. I finally came to the understanding that it must be part of our sin nature, that He is our Shepherd (a good thing) but that we often don’t want Him (a bad thing). Never once did I ever ask a single adult about it. Not my dad (the pastor). Not my mom. Not my Sunday school teachers. No one. Why? Beats me.

It wasn’t until I was considerably older and had studied more literature that I discovered the other meaning of “want.” Between that and reading the punctuation of the sentences I FINALLY understood what the verse was really saying.

So, when the boys read the verse, I stopped to make sure they understood it.

Do you have any similar misunderstandings from your childhood?

2 thoughts on “Misunderstood Verses

  1. Kassandra says:

    When my college roommate was a little girl, she thought the Battle Hymn of the Republic’s lyrics were “trampling on the vineyards where the crates of rats are stored.”

    I don’t remember having that sort of confusion with anything in particular at church, but I do recall coming to my well-reasoned conclusion at age 4 that the whale at Seaworld must be named Shampoo because Shamu is not a real word.


  2. Mary B. DeRoss says:

    When I was little, I thought the lyrics to “Christ Arose” were: “Low in the gravy lay Jesus my Savior”. I really imagined Jesus lying in a gravy boat, with his head on the rim where the gravy poured out. I never talked to anyone about that either! Not my dad (pastor) or mom or older siblings. Poor little girl.


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