Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some Thoughts on the 23rd Psalm

"The Good Shepherd"
(detail (c) Lisa Guinther 2009)

Some Thoughts on the 23rd Psalm

When King David wrote the 23rd Psalm he wasn’t thinking of Jesus…was he?

When the 23rd Psalm is read today, you must admit that you see a portrait of Jesus. I am certain that anyone who reads their Bible or pays attention during a sermon has heard preaching on Jesus as the “Good Shepherd” from the Gospel of John, chapter 10.  There are hymns, paintings and stained glass windows that feature this biblical teaching; it colors our thinking about our Lord Jesus Christ.

But what was King David thinking of when he wrote that Psalm?

David grew up the youngest of a large family. In the ancient Near East, having a son to pass on the family line was very important.  But remember that in his family, there were seven older brothers (and we don’t know if he had any sisters); therefore David as the youngest, would have had little chance of receiving any inheritance (1 Samuel 16:1-10).  But it would seem that he cared deeply for the responsibilities he was given: a shepherd for his father’s flocks.

Recall what David said to King Saul about his being the shepherd for his father, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep.  When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” (1 Samuel 17:34-35) David was serious about his responsibilities. 

Now I admit that young David was trying to convince King Saul that he was equipped to take on Goliath, so this may have been a bit of braggadocio, yet David felt secure enough in his walk with God to make that type of claim.  Remember what was said by God to Samuel “…God sees not as a man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Remember the divine deliverance's of David from King Saul, who wanted to destroy him.  David would manage to escape under the nose of Saul; who was blinded by his own rage, left asleep by God, and out-maneuvered by David over and over again. Saul said “…The Lord delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me.” (1 Samuel 24:18) David had honor for the kingly anointing (which remember he also had) that he would not take the kingship by force: he was willing to wait on Yahweh's perfect timing.

So why not look again at the 23rd Psalm, and try to see it in the way that King David would.

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
*The Lord, Yahweh will care for all my necessities of my life, even if I think I am un-needed or un-wanted by my family or friends*

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters.
*Yahweh cares for me in the middle of nowhere, and stops me from walking or working too long.  He tells me to stop and rest: and those resting places are lush*

He restores my soul.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For his name’s sake.
*No matter if my family neglected, or despised me, Yahweh led me in His path, I followed Him, not because I’m so special, but because He is.  He gives me peace: in my soul,mind, heart and with Him.*

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
*Yahweh, you have helped me so many times escape death that I know that even though I may be afraid, I have confidence that you will give me a ‘smart’ tap with the guiding rod to keep me on your path. And that if I should not see a pit and fall in, You will take your staff, hook it around me and pull me out of that pit. I know how to be a good shepherd and rescue my father’s property, so how much more have You, and will You rescue me.*

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
*Yahweh, You raised up a afterthought child with no inheritance, anointed me King of Israel while another King was in-charge (which I still don’t understand), then kept me safe with a band of misfits, and prospered me in whatever you gave me to do, even though people were suspicious of me; Yahweh, You are so good to me it feels like too much.*

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
*Yahweh, you have done so much for me, I always want to be with you.  I want to sing praise to you. I want to be where you are. I wish everyone would read these songs to you and know you like I know you. *

Well, I guess he did see Jesus.

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