July 6, 2020by Reverend Dan on July 6, 2020
In the late 1800s, entertainment consisted of traveling groups of actors who went from town to town. One such actor went to a small mid-western town. The town hall was packed, and the audience was wildly enthusiastic as the orator recited passages from great plays, poems, and literature. At the end of the performance, after one standing ovation after another, they shouted for more. The actor agreed to take a few requests.
Immediately, a hand shot up from an older man with a weather-beaten face: “Would you…could you…recite the 23rd Psalm, please?” The actor thought for a minute, then said, “I’ll do it on one condition. After I’ve finished, you will come up and recite it, also.” Puzzled, the old man agreed.
The actor began, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” As he continued, he used all the theatrical tricks he knew. One by one, the well-known phrases rolled off his tongue. When all the words were delivered with consummate professionalism, the audience gave the actor yet another standing ovation.
Then, the man who had requested the psalm came up. His face was worn and weathered, and his voice was weak and uncultured. Yet, as he began to speak, his face started to glow, and love almost leapt from his mouth as he quoted the words.
When he got to the end, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord forever,” the only sound in the room was of people crying. The silence was finally broken when the actor stepped forward and said, “Now you know why I wanted him to follow me. You see, I know the psalm . . . but he knows the Shepherd!”
Do you know the Shepherd? Are you one of the Shepherd’s sheep? I encourage you to read this psalm anew now, knowing it’s richness and depth once it is seen through the eyes of the culture and times in which it was written.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters,
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake,
Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou are with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
“Father, thank you for being our Shepherd. May we always be the sheep you have called us to be. AMEN.”