What Does Psalm 23 Mean to Us Today?
(Posted July 7, 2022)
By John Harmon, Deacon
"Most churches when they have images of the Good Shepherd, they show Jesus carrying a nice fluffy lamb. Now fluffy little lambs don't stray from their mommy's. The sheep that will stray is the most obstreperous, troublesome one." Desmond Tutu
This Sunday's message is taken from one of the most famously known and favorite passages of the Bible's "Old Testament", the 23rd Psalm. It's used in so many ways, because of its symbolism and application to multiple events in our lives.
Because its words are so simply put and easily understood, we are given peace and comfort. But sometimes, it becomes rote, and we forget its historical background, the extent of its application to us personally and in our daily life.
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Is ‘The Good Shepherd” Relevant Today? (Yes.)
Especially in these trying times of continued, or imminent health threat of the coronavirus, the war in Ukraine and its expanding threat, and our current national uneasiness and divisiveness, sometimes it's easy to dwell so much on the negative, that we can take the view of Aldous Huxley on the 23rd Psalm: "From the point of view of the individual lambs, rams and ewes, there is no such thing as a good shepherd."
But I think he misses the mark, and greatly understates what's going on -- or maybe not?
With a verse-by-verse review bringing in some of the historical context as well as its meaning in today's troubled world, we'll see that the Lord is truly the Great Shepherd that's in much need, especially in our daily lives.
And we are the sheep needing much shepherding -- both encouragement to walk the good path, as a follower of Jesus as well as needing His safety and security when we stumble from that path?
Other Questions About the Good Shepherd
- Are we just the sheep or is the Good Shepherd the only shepherd - or are we at times, both sheep and shepard?
- What are the worries of the sheep, and the dangers faced? How about the Shepherd?
- Who are the good shepherds of today's and tomorrow's world, and how will we recognize them?
So, whether you're at church this Sunday in person, or watching from your computer at home, take these moments to reflect on the meanings behind the 23rd Psalm, how it was written at a time when people were closer to nature, dependent on it, and the daily caring for their crops and livestock for survival. Yet at the same time, it transcends to today's world and our needs.
Also, please enjoy the music and song that fills the church each Sunday from the soloists, to the piano and organ, all under the direction of Jim Moriarty.