A Loving Shepherd
W. Phillip Keller, author of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
grew up and lived in East Africa surrounded by herders. He explains much of what happens resembles
those shepherds in the Middle East. For
eight years he was a sheep rancher, and was engrossed with the stories of the
Bible. He therefore uses natural
phenomena to provide insights into supernatural truth. Keller points out that present day city dwellers
miss biblical teachings because they are unable to relate to nomadic folks who
live in simplicity.
Keller brings to bear a shepherd’s insight to this devotional
Psalm. He empathizes with David himself
and refers to Psalm 23 as “David’s Hymn of Praise to Divine
Diligence.” With “I shall not want,” God points out that in our lives like
sheep we will be free from friction, for he has prepared an ideal banquet for
our every need. God leads us to “still
waters.” He does not want us to toil on dry, semi-arid soil without having
deep, clean, and pure water to drink. This
situation is ideal for sheep grazing.
God “restores my soul.”
This happens when sheep becomes distressed, but here God is ready to
comfort and give them rest. In “paths of
righteousness” is our assurance that his flock will strive. Even as they “walk through the valley” is the
fact that our Savior knows firsthand the terrain of our lives, just like any
shepherd, who leads his sheep in mountainous territory.
“Thy rod and thy staff” bring the sheep comfort as they are
guided by a loving, and caring Savior.
“Thou preparest a table,” Keller feels this is like the feast on Table
Mountain near Cape Town, Africa. “Surely
goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is his everlasting
care exercised over the sheep. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”
climaxes this proud and joyous Psalm.
Psalm 23 is considered the nightingale of Psalms. It is the epitome of feeding,
guiding, governing, and defending the sheep.
Its climax terminates in everlasting rest – not one of
sorrow and pain, but joy, hope, and pleasure.
People can say, “O death, where is thy sting!” “Thy rod dost comfort me” as we journey and
feed on his Holy Word. Now we reach the
zenith, and are guests of God’s everlasting banquet. Keller captured this beautiful Psalm in his
wonderful little book, A Shepherd Looks
at Psalm 23.
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