January 1, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“By our steadfast and patient endurance and the encouragement drawn from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.”
Romans 15: 4
Hope and Faith and Love
“Hope for a world grown cynically cold
Hungry for power and greedy for gold –
Faith to believe when, within and without,
There’s a nameless fear in a world of doubt
Love that is bigger than race or creed
To cover the world and fulfill each need.
God grant these gifts of faith, hope and love
Three things this world has so little of
For only these gifts from our Father above
Can turn our hearts from hatred to love.”
Helen Steiner Rice
“And so faith, hope, love abide, faith – conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope – joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love – true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13: 13
Psalm 23 – Part 3
“I, Me, My”
“The Twenty-third Psalm is so universal because it is so individual.”
How do I feel when I repeat the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd?
What does the word “My” make me think about when I use the phrase, “My Shepherd”?
“The sweetest word of the whole phrase, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd,’ is the ‘My.’ The Psalmist does not say, ‘The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as His flock,’ but ‘The Lord is my shepherd’; if He is a shepherd to no one else, He is a shepherd to me; He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer’s position, (we are) now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“The little word my makes Psalm 23 as personal as our own skin and bones. When we say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd,’ we’re really saying, ‘I am His sheep. He owns me, and I’m under His management and care. I have a personal relationship with the God of the universe, a friendship that does for me everything ancient shepherds continually did for their flocks, and more.’”
Robert J. Morgan
My high school English teachers would be delighted today to find that I am recalling their grammar lessons. But in order to understand the intimacy which is present in Psalm 23, we must grasp the fact that when David penned the words to this particular Psalm, his use of personal pronouns was in abundant evidence.
There are 115 words in Psalm 23, and as author Maurice Berquist in his book, David’s Song, points out, “Seventeen times in six short verses the words, ‘I, My, and Me’ occur.”
At first it might be easy to think that Psalm 23 is rather egocentric – all the focus seems to point to “Me.” And if we want to dig even deeper, Robert J. Morgan offers the fact that there are “twenty-eight personal pronouns in these six verses – about 25 percent of the entire text!”
Rather than making us feel as though the focus of Psalm 23 is all about, “I, Me, and My,” the effective usage of personal pronouns helps us gain a greater insight into the fact that Psalm 23 has, at its core, the relationship which develops between a shepherd and the sheep within the circle of his care.
One of the most interesting pieces of information I gleaned in my study of this Scriptural passage is that Jesus’ words found in John 10: 3, 4, are truly a reality in the world of “shepherding.” As Jesus tells us, “The watchman opens the door for this man, and the sheep listen to his voice and heed it; and he calls his own sheep by name and brings (leads) them out. When he has brought his own sheep outside, he walks on before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice,” (John 10: 3, 4, Amplified Bible).
Several years ago, when driving up to what is referred to as the “high country” here in Arizona, my husband Jim and I passed a large flock of sheep, being carefully guided through a grassy region which was peppered with tall pines and large junipers. Having a great affection for sheep, my husband pulled our car over to the side of the road and walked toward the shepherd who quietly told Jim to approach slowly and with no rapid or unexpected movements. Jim and the shepherd engaged in a nearly 30 minute discussion as the sheep peacefully grazed in the meadow.
Walking along with the shepherd as he used not only his movements, but the sound of his voice, to direct the sheep to another spot in the meadowland, Jim asked the shepherd what made the sheep appear to be so compliant? Why did they follow where the shepherd directed?
The answer was simple. The sheep were familiar with the voice they heard. They recognized the call of the shepherd and because of the close relationship which had developed over time, the sheep trusted their guide to care for them.
As I recalled how this particular flock of sheep and little lambs followed where they were lead, my thoughts turned to the many reasons which prompted David to write Psalm 23 almost as a testament to his personal relationship with his heavenly Father.
Out under the “beautiful old parchment in which the sun and the moon keep their diary,” as author Alfred Kreymborg so poetically describes the heaven’s, David composed an intimate ode, describing with great affection, the kinship he personally felt toward, the Lord, his Shepherd.
It is the warmth of his Father’s touch that David conveys which makes the six short verses of Psalm 23 such a beloved passage in Scripture and helps you and me, living thousands of years later, to gain solace from the fact that our Father cares about me and you. That I matter to Him. And that His love reaches out to each of His children, individually. Just another small detail which turns out to be a big thing is Psalm 23.
The English poet, William Blake, so touchingly expressed the connection evidenced between the shepherd and the lambs he holds dear published in Songs of Innocence in 1789, the poem, “The Lamb” provides us with a clear visual picture of what it means to be an, “I, Me, and My,” cherished within the circle of Jesus’ love.
“Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life and bid thee feed.
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb:
He is meek and He is mild,
He became a little child;
I a child and Thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.”
I, Me, My
1. The Lord is MY shepherd;
2. I shall not want
3. He maketh ME to lie down in green pastures:
4. He leadeth ME beside the still waters.
5. He restoreth MY soul:
6. He leadeth ME in the paths of righteousness for His
7. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
8. I will fear no evil:
9. For thou art with ME;
10. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort ME.
11. Thou preparest a table before ME.
12. in the presence of MINE enemies:
13. thou anointest MY head with oil:
14. MY cup runneth over.
15. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow ME
16. all the days of MY life:
17. and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. During the coming weeks, gifts which are sent to Transformation Garden will help us honor requests for God’s Word, as shared through our bookmarks, with God’s children in India, Russia, Pakistan, Australia and here in the United States in women’s prisons and for Domestic Abuse Shelters. I thank you so much for the gifts you have chosen to send – Praise God! Your generosity is helping us share God’s Word in countries where the bookmarks are accepted as beautiful artwork but they carry the message of God’s saving grace. Thank you again!!
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.