Psalm 23. I Still Need A Shepherd.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Psalm 23. (MsgB)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when You walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd) just may be to the Old Testament what John 3: 16 (For God so loved the world) is to the New.

Interview a few typical American church-goers and I’m guessing you’ll find at least a handful who can recite a good portion of Psalm 23 when asked. And just as 1st Corinthians 13 (the Love chapter) is known in Christian circles as the ‘wedding’ text, so Psalm 23 is known to most folks as the ‘funeral’ text.

Too bad, isn’t it that we take such powerful biblical writings and delegate them to such limited occasions?

And if that weren’t sad enough, I recently came across another contemporary teaching that now suggests we 21st century leaders consider revising our presentations, removing the metaphor ‘shepherd’ from our biblical teachings!  The reason?

Well, Pastor Andy Stanley, in a 2006 article in Leadership Magazine, says it this way:

“(I believe) we should abandon the metaphor ‘shepherd’ from our ministry vocabulary altogether. That word needs to go away. It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it’s not culturally relevant anymore.”

Yikes, Andy! Are you serious?

Remove the word ‘shepherd’ from our ministry vocabulary?

So let me get this straight, Andy? Are you really suggesting here that we re-write Psalm 23 so that it now reads, “The Lord is my CEO, I will never want for business leads?”

Respectfully, sir.

Bah. Humbug.

I don’t know about you, my dear reader, but even though I never grew up on a farm, never been next to a herd of sheep (except at a petting zoo!), and don’t know the first thing about shaving wool from a ewe, I still need a Shepherd to guide me through my often complex, and always confusing life here on planet earth!

Let me be blunt, Andy. I don’t want a Rancher herding me through Death Valley. I just can’t see myself trusting a CEO for good counsel on how to live as Jesus did. And I simply can’t imagine a Business Manager guiding me in my pursuit of God’s presence in my life.

So, call me old-fashioned, but I still want Jesus to be my Master Shepherd! Call me culturally out-of-step folks, but I still prefer His rod and His staff over and above a contemporary leadership book that offers ten easy steps to the successful Christian life!

As I see it, my friends, Jesus has done a pretty good job thus far as the Shepherd. I suggest we don’t change metaphors this late in the game.

My prayer: Father, without a doubt, I need a Shepherd in this life. Without you, I’m a wayward sheep that tends to wander and has a real knack for getting myself into big trouble. I trust You and Your ability to shepherd me both now and forever more. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Do I fully comprehend the role of Shepherd that Jesus plays in my life? Am I trusting fully in His abilities to shepherd me through my life? Am I letting Him truly lead or am I wandering off with my own agendas? Am I determined to follow Him regardless of the path He takes?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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