The Lord is My Shepherd, There is Nothing I Shall Want – A Reflection on Good Shepherd Sunday

I wanted to write something evocative for this Sunday’s Gospel; short though it is, there is much meaning.

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

Nothing wise has seemed to come – so much for my homiletic skills!

Then today I got into a conversation over on my personal Facebook page, about liturgical music. Someone that I have affection for noted that she did not like Marty Haugen’s music. This got me to thinking about one of my favorite hymns, Haugen’s Shepherd Me O God. I really love this piece of music actually and you will find a video of it at the end of this post.

This got me further thinking about God as shepherd and how we hear God’s voice.

When I was far from church, but still interested in some kind of relationship with God, I had an experience, that I can see today, was my shepherd calling out to me.

I used to travel a lot, this was in 1986 or so. At that time, I would take a shared van service to the airport and I often had the same driver, an old African-American man. He was always quite cheerful, even at 5am, which is when I was usually in his van.

One day it turned out that I was the only passenger, so we got into quite a conversation. He told me that he began every day thanking God and ended each day the same way. This intrigued me. I am sorry to say that at that shallow point of my life, it did not occur to me to thank God very regularly.  I asked this man to say more about this and he said that he prayed and read “God’s Holy Word” every morning and every night.

Hmmm… The Bible. I always had a sort of academic interest in the Bible, so I pressed on. He seemed shocked that I did not have a Bible and he urged me to go get one.  Being a book-loving person, I never needed much encouragement to go get another one!

So I did go get a Bible!  I got one off a sale table at a bookstore, a King James version (no offense KJV peeps)that was very hard for me to read. I persisted however.

The one thing that I found I could read with ease were the Psalms and the Psalm I sort of knew and read most frequently was Psalm 23. I came to read this Psalm all the time. Thus began my somewhat regular reading of Scripture.

The Lord is my shepherd – there is nothing that I shall want. I particularly love the language of the Jerusalem Bible for this psalm. (Yes, I am aware of the don’t-use-Yaweh-rule, but that is this translation and I am sticking with it.)

The Good Shepherd
Psalm Of David

Yahweh is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.

In meadows of green grass he lets me lie.
To the waters of repose he leads me;
there he revives my soul.

He guides me by paths of virtue
for the sake of his name.

Though I pass through a gloomy valley,
I fear no harm;
beside me your rod and your staff
are there, to hearten me.

You prepare a table before me
under the eyes of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil,
my cup brims over.

Ah, how goodness and kindness pursue me,
every day of my life;
my home, the house of Yahweh,
as long as I live!

It is really something – my heart leaps when I read it even now. Don’t you love the last part, it sounds so ardent…. “goodness and kindness pursue me.” It is like I am being chased!! I hear the voice of my shepherd and I recognize it. I know my shepherd and my shepherd knows me and he is calling out for me!

This reminds me of the post I had up on Friday, about time. Who knew in 1986, when that nice man told me about thanking God, that that would lead me to a Bible and that a psalm would lead me to a whole other life? 

These days I thank God every day – at the beginning and at the end and so very often in the middle. As Anne Lamott says, there are really only two prayers “help me, help me” and “thank you, thank you.”
Today I say – The Lord is my shepherd! Thank you! Thank you!

6 thoughts on “The Lord is My Shepherd, There is Nothing I Shall Want – A Reflection on Good Shepherd Sunday

  1. I'm working on my homily for Sunday–knowing that I have to do an instructional piece, not a reflection on the shepherd who is good."Jesus said, 'Take and eat.' He did not say, 'Take and put in your pocket or take and put it on the bookshelf.'" Call it the Homily of the Obvious, addressed to the sometimes Oblivious.I love this Haugen piece.


  2. Fran, I find wonderful the way Godde pursued you and led you to this new wonderful life that you seem to enjoy so very much.Praise be to Godde for you and what She does through you.Blessings.


  3. I love this song. And yesterday afternoon, listening to/singing it, after 18 months or so of wanting nothing whatever to do with Psalm 23, I found it quite wonderful — and looked up the same recording on youtube. I think I'll listen again right now!


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