#23: The Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23 A Psalm of David. written circa 1000BC
For song 23 in the songs we will sing I don’t think we can go past the 23rd Psalm written by David of the Old Testament. The Jewish nation sang the Psalms as their praise to God and this psalm has been sung as a Christian hymn since about 1650 with some newer arrangements of tune brought in around 1871. What ever way one looks at it- it is an old song.
The story of David is found in the book of Samuel in the Old Testament and it is a cracker of a story. The prophet Samuel is charged with the job of finding the next King who will replace Saul. He is led to Jesse who has a number of tall, strong, handsome sons from which to choose. As Samuel goes to choose, he starts with the older brothers, each time he is told that God has not chosen this one. Until finally at the end Samuel asks Jesse if he has any more sons. Well, yes – there is this little runt of a kid, David, and he is out watching the sheep. And guess what? David is the one chosen by God.
David is a lowly shepherd boy who grows into a talented musician and a poet but he really isn’t overly impressive to look at when compared with his brothers. But here God gives us one of his great lessons in life when He reminds us not to judge a person by their outward appearance. God does not do this, He looks straight at the heart to make His judgements on people and He judged David’s heart to be worthy of Kingship.
Nevertheless, David is human and he gives into temptation, infamously committing adultery with Bathsheba and then trying to manipulate events to cover his transgression. When these backfire he arranges for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, and a general in the Army, to be placed in the front row of battle where is he killed. Problem solved? No, God brings David face to face with his sin and when David realizes just how wretched he has been, he collapses into repentance and only then can God restore him. Another great lesson about the mercy and grace of God and a reminder that God, through Christ, is a forgiver of sins, even the ones we might think are too big to forgive.
This is a song often sung at funerals and my first memory of The Lord is My Shepherd is when I was 9 years old and it was sung at my maternal grandfather’s funeral. It is a beautiful song filled with pastoral imagery of the Shepherd’s comfort, protection and provision. And it is as true for us today as it was for David when he sat down to pen it over 1000 years ago.
I hope you will enjoy the version I have chosen to share from You Tube.