The 23rd Psalm has been sung in hundreds of different forms since King David wrote the words some three thousand years ago. It isn’t only because the psalm is so beautiful and expresses the Lord’s handling of His sheep so well, but also because Christians have found so much to appreciate in Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
The version from the 1650 Scottish Psalter, “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want,” has certainly stood the test of time. But when Henry Baker, an Anglican pastor, was asked to compile a new hymnal for his church he added this hymn, a paraphrase of Psalm 23, to the appendix of the hymnal. The fact that his hymnal sold more than sixty million copies indicates he did his job well.
As Baker was dying, his last words came from the third stanza of this hymn: “Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed/But yet in love He sought me,/And on His shoulder gently laid/And home, rejoicing brought me.”
Read: Psalm 23; Psalm 95:7; St. John 10:9
Hymn #502 E.L.W.
The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow, my ransomed soul he leadeth
and, where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me,
and on his shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill, with thee, dear Lord, beside me,
thy rod and staff my comfort still; thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spreadst a table in my sight; thine unction grace bestoweth;
and, oh, what transport of delight from thy pure chalice floweth!
And so, through all the length of days, thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within thy house forever.
How has prayer helped you? How does your personal prayer time and communal prayer time in worship inform and feed you? Look for more stories of prayer in next week’s Monday Meditation.