Maundy Thursday – "A Table In the Presence of Enemies" – Psalm 23:5-6


Jesus_Christ_the_Good_Shepherd_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_1“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The care that this shepherd exercises for His dear sheep is unsurpassed. “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”

Whereas danger normally gives rise to fear, the sheep of his flock, those who listen to His voice and follow Him and not another, “fear not.” “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

And why is it that His sheep live in such a state of peace and security? Is it their self-confidence that in the face of danger they possess the cleverness or innovation or strength to overcome whatever 'evil' confronts them, even death? No.

Their confidence is not based on anything within the sheep themselves. It is based solely on the fact that when they look up, when they look out, they see their Shepherd. And the fact that He is “with them” assures them that they are safe and secure. “For you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

It is at this point in the 23rd Psalm, that David breaks from the pastoral picture of a shepherd and His sheep that he has painted, and that we have carefully looked into during this season of Lent. Truth is, we've known all along that David wasn't really talking about sheep and shepherds, but about the people whom the Lord has made His own, and how He provides for them and protects them. Continue reading

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Palm Sunday – 4/14/19 – "Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday" – Luke 19:28-30


passionIt was a busy time for Jerusalem as the annual Passover feast was about to begin. Thousands of devout Jews from all over the world would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover there. In fact, many had already arrived. And in a day long before 'twitter' and 'facebook,' they heard unbelievable reports about Jesus of Nazareth. They were saying that Jesus of Nazareth had raised a man who had been dead for four days to life. The man’s name was Lazarus. He lived in the village of Bethany. And many went to Bethany to see Lazarus.

And just as when people from Jerusalem went into the desert to see John the Baptist and he pointed his finger at Jesus and said, ‘don’t look at me. Look at Him,’ so Lazarus must have done for those who came to see him. 'Don't look at me. Look at Him.'

It was after the Sabbath Day was over, which would have been Sunday, that Jesus made the two mile journey from Bethany to Jerusalem. And “as he was drawing near, already on the way down the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen.”

And in their enthusiasm, they take off their cloaks and laid them down in front of the donkey as though they were laying a 'red-carpet' for him. They waived their banners of palm branches overhead while shouting an extravagant welcome, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”

THIS IS PALM SUNDAY. Continue reading

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Mid-Week Lent – Psalm 23:4b,c



“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”

There was an occasion that is recorded in Luke’s gospel where Jesus got involuntarily caught up in an argument over the division of an inheritance among the family. “Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Lk. 12:13-15)

When we hear the Psalmist confess, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” and as we make this our confession, we are not talking about “want” in terms of “the abundance of possessions,” whether those ‘possessions’ be material possessions, or intellectual ‘possessions,’ or other ‘people’ whom we may also want to ‘possess.’

The Bible as well as the daily newspaper are full of examples of people who have no ‘want’ for any of these possessions and yet are ‘deeply wanting’ in that possession that the Psalmist is speaking of in this Psalm. He is a sheep of the Lord’s pasture, and the Lord is His shepherd, and with that, he has all that he 'wants.' Material, intellectual, personal possessions are all entirely secondary to the 'peace' and 'security' and 'well-being' that he has as a sheep of the Lord's flock.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”

This is an easy confession to make when, as David confesses in a previous Psalm, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6)

But what about when the ‘lines’ fall in ‘unpleasant places,' as they so often do? What about when you are in the “valley of the shadow of death” and are surrounded by the “gloom” and “darkness” that we spoke of last week? Can we still confess, “I shall not want”?

Why is it that we love to sing Luther’s famous battle hymn with gusto, even while we confess, “were they to take our house, goods, honor, child or spouse, though life be wretched away, “I shall not want,” “the kingdom’s ours forever.”?

I. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”

“Fear” can be a terribly debilitating thing. “Fear” can drain the courage right out of an otherwise brave person. “Fear” is the opposite of ‘security.’ When I feel ‘secure’ I have a high level of confidence that I am safe. ‘Safe and secure’ go together. When I'm 'safe and secure,' I'm ready to tackle any problem and meet any opposition with confidence.

But when I am not confident that I am safe, fear sets in. And ‘fear’ drives me to seek ‘security’ in whatever it is that I believe will make we ‘safe and secure.’

One of the many devastating things about our fallen and sinful nature is that we seek ‘safety and security’ in those things that are neither safe nor secure. If my deepest sense of security is based on a wise government or an effective police force or a powerful military, and they stumble or even fail, my sense of ‘security’ stumbles and falls with it and 'fear’ takes over.

To be clear, not all “fear” is all bad. There is such a thing as a ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ fear. Parents teach their children to ‘fear’ that which can harm them. We are supposed to ‘fear’ and even ‘hate’ that which is ‘evil’ because ‘evil’ can ‘harm,’ even ‘kill’ us. Our ‘fear’ of evil drives us away from it. Rather that ‘trusting’ and ‘loving’ what is evil, which is the way we come into this world, we are to ‘fear and hate’ what is evil. And that requires a ‘conversion.’

But ‘fear and hate’ of what is evil is only half of what “conversion” is all about. If that’s as far as it goes, if we only what we are supposed 'fear' and 'hate', we're left with nothing to trust and no one to depend upon to defend us. As Luther teaches us, we must also ‘fear and love’ what is good. And there is only one who is good, and that is God.

When we ‘fear and hate’ evil with all our heart and soul and mind, and ‘fear and love’ God with all our heart and soul and mind, we are the people whom God created and converted us to be.

So when we hear David say, “I will fear no evil,” it is not that he has no concern or respect for the harm that evil is capable of doing. But his fear of evil is overcome by his fear and love of the Lord, his shepherd.

David has complete confidence in his Lord, that he is able to deliver him from whatever evil may be present in this valley of shadows and death. How little could David have known just how well placed his confidence in his Lord was?

For David’s Lord would confront the full force of ‘evil’ head on, and overcome it, proving beyond dispute that real safety and security is found only when “the Lord is my shepherd.” How could David have known this, except by faith? How much should we know this, except by faith that has been made more sure than David’s.

II. “I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

Israel’s security rested on the assurance of God’s presence with them. As they traveled through their own ‘valley of death’ in the desert, they went with the confidence that God was ‘with them’ in the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.

No other nation had so much confidence in their god. If the pagans wanted to be in the presence of their god, they had to go to the temple where an handmade idol was fashioned to be the presence of their god. But when they left the temple, their god did not go with them.

Israel had their own temple or tabernacle where God was present with them. But unlike the pagans, their God went with them wherever they went. The Psalmist expresses his fearless confidence in the omnipresence of his Lord saying, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

The confidence of the Psalmist and Israel and David is our confidence as well. The angel Gabriel tells Joseph that his fiancee Mary is pregnant with a child conceived by the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the infallible promise of God through the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23).

On Thursday next week, we’ll consider how this Immanuel “prepares a table before us…” that in eating and drinking the bread and wine, we have His presence with us, even in us, that we may “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” without fear, “for you are with me.”

III. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

It is as though David is anticipating the sacramental nature of His Lord's presence with us when he points to the objects of his comfort. The ‘rod’ and the ‘staff’ of the middle-eastern shepherd are two different things, each with its own purpose.

The shepherd’s ‘rod’ is his principle ‘offensive’ weapon for defending his sheep. The typical ‘rod’ was about 2 ½ feet long with a large end into which sharp pieces of iron or bone were embedded. It was used to fight off wild animals as well as thieves.

David defended his ability to go against the giant Goliath by telling Saul that, as a shepherd, when a lion, or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, he went after it and struck it and killed it and delivered the lamb out of his mouth. (1 Samuel 17:34-35). David was referring to his use of his ‘rod’ to defend his flock from external harm.

The other important instrument in the hand of a shepherd was his ‘staff.’ The traditional shepherd’s staff is at least 5 feet long and almost always has a crook at the end of it. The shepherd leans on his staff, climbs with it, and uses it to direct his sheep. When a lamb cannot scramble down from a ledge or falls into a crevice or down a bank into a stream, the shepherd is able to catch the lamb in the crook and gently lift it back onto the path.

These two instruments form a pair. The ‘rod’ is used to protect the flock from ‘external threats.’ The ‘staff’ serves to gently assist the flock in staying on the right path. The two of these together give “comfort” to the sheep.

For us, His ‘rod’ and ‘staff’ find their reality in His Word of ‘Law’ and ‘Gospel.’ The ‘rod’ is like the Law of God that is meant to break and hinder every evil that would hurt and devour us. “You shall have no other gods. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and so forth as we spoke the 10 Commandments together.

The ‘staff’ is like the Gospel that is meant to assure us that we have a gracious God who does not desire the death of the sinner but that we should be caught up in His gentle crook and restored to the ‘right path’ and be saved.

To the sheep of the Good Shepherd who follow Him even as He leads His flock into the ‘valley of the shadow of death” and are prone to ‘fear evil,’ we hear voice say, “fear not, for I am with you…” (Isaiah 43:5) “Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27).

The assurance of His presence among us as we hear His voice speak to us, and receive His very body and blood, transforms our fears into courage and we walk even through the valley of the shadow of death in safety and security, and with hearts that are comforted.

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Lent 5 – "A Question of Ownership" – Luke 20:9-20 – 4/7/19


ownershipOn Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and went straight to the
Temple to clean house. “MY HOUSE” is what He calls it. “MY HOUSE shall be a house of prayer but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Luke 19:45-46).

As we might expect, this didn’t sit well with those who thought that the Temple was THEIR HOUSE. “What gives you the right?” Which doesn’t quite get how intensely furious they were with Jesus. Luke puts it like this, “The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him…”

It’s a question of ownership and authority. Ownership gives authority. As long as they considered themselves the ones to whom the Temple belonged, they considered that they had the authority to administer it as they saw fit.

What infuriated them about Jesus was that He barged into THEIR HOUSE and started rearranging the furniture AS IF it were HIS HOUSE.

Can you imagine someone walking right into YOUR HOUSE and rearranging the furniture and throwing some of your favorite things into the dumpster and accusing you of mismanaging HIS HOUSE? Whether you’re for gun control or not, you’re ready to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights.

“One day, as Jesus was teaching in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the leaders came up and said to him, ‘Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is who gave you this authority.”

It’s a question of ownership and the authority that comes with ownership. It’s a question that gets very personal to each and every one of us as soon as we begin to talk in terms of ‘who owns you.’ And how you answer that question will determine who has the ‘authority’ to say how you should live.

If we say, “I belong to Jesus,” you’re saying that He has the authority to make demands on how I am to live my life. When He says, ‘this must go,’ and ‘this must be added’ and ‘there are several things that must be rearranged,’ we welcome Him and His Word and surrender to His authority and give Him the green light to ‘clean house.’

But if we say, “I belong to no one. I am the captain of my ship and I have the final authority to live my life as I choose,” and Jesus Christ comes with His expectations and demands, we will be as outraged and furious with Him as the chief priests and scribes and principle men of the people were.

And in fact, it is this second scenario that describes each and every one of us so much more completely than the first. “Who does He think He is?” “What gives Him the right?” are the objections that we raise far more often than a humble submission to His perfect right to enter into my life and reform it entirely. Continue reading

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Mid-Week Lent – 4 – Psalm 23:4a,b.


Psalm 23:4a
“Even though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me…”

Jesus_Christ_the_Good_Shepherd_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_1“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” For the last three Wednesdays beginning with Ash Wednesday, we have been thinking about all that the Lord provides for His sheep to the end that they “shall not want.”

He brings them to green pastures and still waters that they may eat and drink until they are completely satisfied. He provides such protection and security for them that they are able to “lie down” in quietness and peace. Even if they should wander off and go astray, they are confident that He will come and find them and carry them home and “restore their soul,” leading them in “right paths” for “his own names sake.”

That’s the ground we have covered together in the ‘first part’ of this 23rd Psalm. But now in the ‘second part,’ we are introduced to a reality that seems a whole lot more realistic than the somewhat idealistic picture that has been painted so far.

Today, the Psalmist reminds us that when he says, “the Lord is my shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT,” he, IN NO WAY, intends to imply that “I shall not have any pain or suffering or unpleasantness” in my life.

Rather, he presents a very ‘realistic’ picture that honestly confronts the deception that if only I believe in my Lord sincerely enough and follow Him closely enough I shall not experience any trials or troubles, pain or suffering.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Continue reading

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Lent 4 – "The Loving Father" – Luke 15:1-3,11-32 – 3/31/19


“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes grumbled saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”

prodigal-sonWhat the Pharisees and Scribes didn’t understand, and what many still fail to understand, is that Jesus came into this world to save sinners. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

“Sinners” are in a desperate situation that even they themselves don’t realize. They’ve fallen into a deep pit that can’t get out of. And they’ll die in that pit unless someone pulls them out.

The big problem with ‘sinners’ is EITHER that they believe that they have NOT FALLEN into a pit and that Jesus and His Christians have the wrong idea about their life, OR they think they can get themselves out of the pit.

Sinners will either say, “This is the way life should be” OR “I got myself into this. I’ll get myself out of this.”

“Repentance” is that change of heart and mind that only happens by the Holy Spirit, whereby the sinner begins to accept the fact that unless someone comes to pull him out of the pit, he’s doomed, NOT ONLY to die in it but to spend eternity in it.

This change of heart, this ‘repentance,’ is what Paul was talking about in our Epistle reading when he said, “The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2Cor. 5:17) The ‘sinner’ welcomes Jesus and calls Him, ‘my savior.’

It wasn’t that the Pharisees and Scribes weren’t aware that they were ‘sinners.’ It’s that they were thoroughly convinced they could get themselves out of the pit. In fact they probably thought of themselves as ‘already there.’ “And if we can do it so can they.”

Paul writes to Timothy saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim. 1:15). All sinners! Not just some sinners or a certain class of sinners. “ALL” sinners – tax collectors and sinners as well as Pharisees and Scribes, and if them, then you and me too.

In His parable of the two lost sons, Jesus gives us a picture of the way the love of God for sinners is either received or rejected. Here we see the picture of ‘repentance’ and ‘hard-hearted refusal’ of divine love. And as we hear His story, we must ask ourselves, ‘which one am I?’ Continue reading

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Mid-Week Lent – Psalm 23:3 – 3/27/19

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Jesus_Christ_the_Good_Shepherd_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_1This is the ground that we have traveled together so far in our Lenten journey through the 23rd Psalm. Along the way, we have been particularly attentive to the two things as we hear this beloved Psalm together.

First, we have been attentive to the literal meaning that lies behind the figurative language. The Psalm is not really about a shepherd and his sheep but about the Lord God and His people, His holy church. Lying down in green pastures beside still waters is the picture, but the meaning in the picture is that the Lord God gives His Word and Sacraments to His people, and these ‘means of grace’ give His people the rest that they both need and long for.

Second, we have been attentive to the speaker and the audience to who he is speaking. Who is saying these things and to whom is he saying them? Using his ‘poetic license,’ the author has the sheep doing the talking. And behind the ‘picture’ we know that the author and speaker is David.

But the question is, to whom is he speaking? Next week, the audience will be clearly identified. “You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” From that point forward, the sheep is speaking directly to his good shepherd, or, David is speaking directly to his Lord.

But to whom is this sheep, this David, speaking in this first half of this psalm? It could be that the sheep is speaking to all the other sheep in the flock. OR maybe he is speaking to an individual sheep that is lost. OR maybe, he is speaking to a flock of sheep under a ‘not-so-good’ shepherd as the Good Shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters.” So, it could be that David is preaching to his congregation OR evangelizing the lost OR those following false gods.

OR, it could also be that the sheep is talking to himself. Faced with danger, or temptation, or trials, where courage and steadfastness and faithfulness are required, David is speaking to his own heart to be brave and remain true. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”

Today, we add verse three to the conversation that I suspect for most of us, is focused inwardly, to reassure our own anxious hearts that as long as we are in the Lord’s flock, we are safe and secure under His care, and free to live courageously and faithfully. Continue reading

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Lent 3 – "Living Under Divine Justice and Grace" – Luke 13:1-9 – 3/24/19


Today’s gospel deals with the issue of Divine Justice and how it works. Do we get what we deserve? That’s the question that we wrestle with in our system of human justice. If you poke someone in the eye, it’s not fair if he kills you in return, but it is fair if he gets to poke you in the eye. “An eye for an eye.” That’s justice.

Same goes with missing teeth. A punch in the mouth that breaks a tooth is not punishable by life in prison. That’s injustice. But “a tooth for a tooth,” that’s fair. It’s the ‘Golden Rule’ in reverse. ‘Do unto others what they have done to you, and no more.’

That’s the way we ‘do justice.’ And we wonder if God is as fair and just as we are. For example: “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.”

It’s got a familiar ring to it. “50 gunned down while praying in a mosque in New Zealand.” “26 gunned down at 1st Baptist Church in Texas while worshipping.”

It’s the same kind of violence. But the questions are very different. Whereas we want to know what kind of justice the murderers are going to get, they want to know what those Galileans must have done to deserve what they got.

For if the assumption is that God is ‘just,’ and that He operates by a system of justice as we understand justice, those Galileans must have been “worse sinners than all the other Galileans” to get what they got, because the punishment must fit the crime.

But today, we conclude differently. Today we conclude that those who were murdered in New Zealand and Texas and in the countless other places where violence has struck, the slain were innocent. They didn’t deserve what they got. They may not be perfect but they didn’t deserve this. The punishment didn’t fit whatever their crime might have been. And since God allowed this to happen, the assumption is that God is not ‘just.’

Jesus’ answer pulls the rug out from under both conclusions. “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” By His harsh and terribly unsatisfying response to both conclusions, our Lord destroys the faulty premise upon which we believe this world is ruled – which is that of divine justice.

In its place, our Lord presents the true premise by which this world is ruled, which no one could ever have imagined and never have comprehended unless God Himself came down from heaven and REVEALED it. This world is not ruled by divine justice but by divine grace. For if it was ruled by justice, THEN WE WOULD ALL “LIKEWISE PERISH.” Continue reading

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Mid-Week Lent – 2 – Psalm 23:2 – 3/20/19


Psalm 23:2

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Jesus_Christ_the_Good_Shepherd_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_1In the first verse of this beloved 23rd Psalm, David gathers together in one sentence the theme of the entire psalm – “since the Lord is his shepherd, he lacks nothing, he has all that he needs, he shall not be in want.” In the five verses that follow, he says nothing different than this and nothing in addition to this. What follows the first verse of this psalm is nothing more and nothing less than a rich development of this single theme – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

David proclaims the deep assurance and comfort that he has as a follower of the Lord in ‘picture language’ and ‘imagery.’ He wants us to ‘picture’ the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth and everything therein, as a ‘shepherd.’ He wants us to ‘picture’ the one who follows the Lord God as a ‘sheep’ with all of the behavioral characteristics that real sheep possess.

And so as we make our way through this Psalm and come to these ‘figurative’ words, we’re always going to want to get at the meaning in the ‘picture.’ Today we consider the meaning of “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

I. He makes me lie down.
David knows shepherding because he is a shepherd. So David knows that sheep are not like dogs. Dogs can be trained to sit or lie down on command. Not so with sheep. Sheep will only ‘lie down’ when they have had plenty to eat and drink and are not threatened by predators. It’s said that the barking of even one stray dog or the howl of a coyote a mile away is enough to cause a flock of sheep to jump us and even run off if not stopped by an alert shepherd.

So, when we hear David say, “He MAKES me lie down,” we don’t want to think this happens by force or by special training like it does with a dog. It happens only when the sheep are well fed and secure. Only then will they ‘relax’ or ‘settle down’ and allow the food to digest and rest.

So, nothing can be better for the sheep than when their shepherd leads them to a place with plenty of food and water that is safe and secure. And that is what David is telling us that those who are of the Lord’s flock enjoy – fullness and satisfaction and security that set them free to ‘lie down,’ to ‘relax,’ to ‘settle down.’ Where this happens, the follower feels as though ‘life is good’ and ‘I lack nothing.’ Continue reading

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Ash Wednesday – Psalm 23:1 – 3/13/19


Jesus_Christ_the_Good_Shepherd_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_1“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” So begins the beloved “Twenty Third Psalm.” This Psalm is just one of many written by David. And although each one of the 150 Psalms in the Psalmody is beautiful and meaningful in its own way, the 23rd Psalm stands apart from them all if only because it is the most well-known and most well-beloved of them all, to the point that many people are even able to recite this one from memory, and in the King James Version at that.

And so, as we embark on our Lenten journey with the 23rd Psalm in hand, we set out on familiar ground with an old friend, which also defines the challenge before us. What else can be said that has not already been said about the 23rd Psalm? So, our goal here is not so much to learn something new, but rather, to be reminded of what we already know, “the Lord is my shepherd,” and therefore, “I shall not want.”

As we set out on this journey, we are reminded that as far removed from our own experience the world of shepherding and sheep may be, the 23rd Psalm was written by a real shepherd who knew something about real sheep and what it means to be a real shepherd.

He knows the demands that are required of shepherds who are entrusted with the care of the sheep in their flock. And he knows that there are ‘good shepherds’ and ‘bad shepherds,’ the difference between the two, and most importantly, what it means to the sheep to live in the flock that is cared for by a ‘good shepherd.’

One more point that might be beneficial as we begin is to point to the literary approach that David uses throughout this Psalm. Rather than writing this Psalm from the perspective of the shepherd, ‘let me tell you sheep what I expect from you and what it means to be ‘good sheep,’ David speaks as one of the sheep of the flock of a ‘good shepherd. This talking sheep begins by telling how good it is to be a sheep of a ‘good shepherd.’
“I shall not want.” Which is to say…
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”
“He leads me beside still waters.”
“He restores my soul.”
The question is, ‘to whom is this sheep speaking?’ To whom is it ‘confessing’? And the answer is, he is speaking to all the other sheep in the flock who might take such a blessed life for granted. And he is speaking to himself, both reminding himself of the blessed life he has and rejoicing in it.

But then the same sheep turns to its shepherd and says basically the same thing to the ‘good shepherd’ himself.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

So now that we have staked out the path that this Lenten journey will follow, let’s set out on it. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Continue reading

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