March 18, 2020
“The Lord is My Shepherd” comes from the first part of verse 1 of the 23rd Psalm.
It is well accepted that King David, Israel’s most beloved king, wrote this psalm. What’s at question about the psalm is WHEN he wrote it. Was it because of one particular occasion in his life? Many think it was when he was preparing to face Goliath, but we don’t know that for sure. It could have been one of the many times that King Saul tried to kill him. Or maybe when he risked his life to save his sheep from the bear or the lion. Maybe it was when he was at war. Whatever the occasion or whenever it was written, we, as readers, can be certain that the psalm accurately portrays David’s confidence in God’s grace to protect him.
A few of my posts ago, I wrote on the subject “Fear Not.” It was written to address the worldwide fear and panic due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. I received many responses to that post. One lady wrote me that she had read the post three times and found so much comfort in it.
We can find comfort in David’s 23 psalm, too. Our fears are not always concerning the prospect of death. Fear can result from many things in our lives, or even the lives of family and friends. But David’s psalm can bring comfort and even peace.
During my career as a pastor, I officiated at many funerals. It was always my habit to ask the family if there was anything in particular that they would like me to say as I eulogized their loved one? Or was there a favorite passage of scripture that they would like me to use?
The most often response to that latter question to the family was if I could find a way to use the 23rd Psalm somewhere in the memorial service. When I received that request, it was usually at the graveside that I quoted that psalm. I would use the psalm at the committal as a benediction. It always helped bring comfort to the family.
One of my favorite parts of the psalm is about the Shepherd. The image of a caring overseer is symbolic usually of a king or of God. The shepherd of the sheep is one of the metaphors Jesus used of Himself, most famously of his self-description as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. And He is the same shepherd who goes out to find the one sheep who has strayed away from the flock (John 10:11-16). Throughout the psalm, the psalmist described the profound happiness and joy that exists for those who seek righteousness fervently.
And I like the part of the psalm that refers to being anointed with oil. The oil was one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit. Oil was used for anointing in many things. Sometimes on a king, sometimes for one’s healing. Around our house, we have two bottles of anointing oil. I ordered them from a vendor from Jerusalem. The bottles are filled with scented olive oil.
Several times this past year, Rachel would bring one of the bottles of oil to me and say, “Daddy, we need a family prayer. Anoint us with oil and pray for us.” Sandra has been having serious problems with dry eyes and has to apply drops several times a day. Sometimes it gets very painful. The other night she said to me, “Spencer, anoint my eyes with oil before we go to bed.”
Whether one has oil readily available or not, the Holy Spirit is always present to help you. I think that’s what David was wanting his readers of the psalm to realize.
I’m not going to print the 23rd Psalm in this post. I’m sure you know it well and many of you have it memorized. But it would be helpful, I’m sure, during this difficult time in our lives, to open your Bible up and slowly read and savor that psalm very prayerfully.
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God Bless You,