The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 38

The Linnet´s Wings [Shepherd as Christ lacks the forcefulness of the Hebrew shepherd of the 23 rd Psalm] Psalm 23 The 23 rd Psalm is perfectly familiar, yet harder-grained than we notice. The Lord as shepherd is common- place, but what do shepherds do? Often portrayed as benevolent, the shepherd is forceful and punishes his sheep. He makes them do what they otherwise would not because it is good for them. We appreciate forceful care when we have lost our way. How forceful? The shepherd employs his rod and staff. Sheep are wayward and stupid, so the good shepherd must tug and strike to drive them to the right path. When we go wrong, we suffer; it is God’s way of reminding us we have strayed. Afflictions are His guidance. Reward comes in the right path. “Still waters”, unlike babbling brooks, run deep. The Lord restores the parched soul with abundant refreshment, a poignant image for a desert people. 1: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (King James Version) God’s bond with His people is certain; their success supports His fame. Fear of the evils that might befall us during our journey through “the valley of the shadow of death” is not overcome by a promise of heaven – this is not a Christian poem. Life, here and in this world, is full of of terrors; they can be met only by faith that God provides immediate protection and steels the spirit for life’s struggles. God prepares a luxurious table for us, all the sweeter because our enemies look on in dismay. Vengeance provides the special sauce as the victorious Hebrew relishes his blessings while antagonizing his neighbors. Although the King James Version imagines us dwelling “in the house of the Lord forever” -- a fine Christian, other-worldly prospect -- in Hebrew, the psalm says, “for many days” sometimes rendered “my whole life long.” Psalm 23 is more in-this-world than other-worldly. 38