My Shepherd Be…
Reading the 23rd Psalm this last week had me thinking long on my own experience as a shepherd of one to a little lamb of my own. It is not a little or small thing to be a shepherd, to care for a flock, or even a solitary creature. As David had once been a shepherd boy, watching over little lambs and sheep, it is no wonder that he had empathy and related to one who watches over the flock. He was a shepherd that rose to be a king, and although through the ages shepherds have not typically ranked among the high in society, it was to shepherds that angels appeared and announced the good news that a child was born in a manger of an obscure village called Bethlehem, the child who would be King of Kings.
When I was boy, living on a small farm in Tivy Valley, I was a member of the Centerville School 4-H Club. One of the many activities I enjoyed and in which I participated was a lamb project. The project entailed I raise a lamb, exercise it, and prepare it and myself to show at the fair for market. I can not say that I was much of a lamb market showman, but I loved my lamb. I named him Lambert.
I fed him, groomed him, protected him from the elements and predators, and walked him faithfully up and down our long dirt driveway to give him lots of exercise, in the harness I hand made for him. Sometimes it felt like he was walking me instead of the other way around, and we became pals. To me Lambert was a grand champion, but when it came time for the Big Fresno Fair we did not perform as well as I had hoped, that was more me than he, nevertheless we had a grand time.
At the culmination of a show an auction market takes place. My parents tried to prepare me for parting with Lambert. It turned out that after watching me go up and down the driveway so many times with him that Mom and Dad could not part me from my pal and preemptively purchased Lambert. At the time I did not fully understand their motivations, but I appreciated their sentiment and loved the fact that I did not have to give him up, that I could shepherd him still. We enjoyed many years together as he freely roamed the grassy slopes of our 20 acre property.
As I wrote, I have thought much about the 23rd Psalm this past week. I suppose that my own experience has increased my empathy and my feeling of gratitude for David’s sweet song, his prayer, that has brought so much comfort to so many for generations of time.
As the prophet Nephi taught, we should liken the scriptures to ourselves. He proclaimed, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). In that spirit I rewrote the 23rd Psalm and likened the words unto me that I might share them in the way I feel while I am reading and pondering this poetic prayer. I do not add or take away from the inspired words of David, I only seek to understand and learn what Heavenly Father would have me see.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I should not want, but I do.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, although I sometimes resist the cool safety of His watch: He leadeth me beside the still waters, yet my eye is often drawn towards treacherous cascades.
He restoreth my soul and I am so grateful: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, but I wander still, yet for His name’s sake, the path is illuminated for my return.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I should fear no evil. I try not to fear, and I fear not so much for myself, more for those I love so dearly, yet my faith in Him and His divine protection of all His children is firm: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thy law and Thy protecting authority guide my way and dissuade predators.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, and I am safe as I sup with Thee: Thou anointest my head with oil. Oh, wilt Thou never withdraw Thine anointing hand; my cup runneth over, and over, and over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, for which I have all cause to rejoice: and I will dwell, we will dwell, in the house of the Lord for ever.
I am so grateful for the opportunities which I have had to shepherd, from that little lamb to my own little ones, and the flock of my congregation as I served in days past. The Lord has sent us here to shepherd, to learn to be as He, the Good Shepherd, one in whom we can always trust for safety and love. We know Him, even as we are known. So He declared, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).
In Jesus Christ I have rest by the still waters and in green pastures. My life has been bounteous with peace and safety. I have felt shepherded as if the Good Shepherd only had me for whom to care. The Lord is my shepherd, and He is yours, He is ours. May we shepherd as we have been shepherded, care for all the little lambs, and feel always the loving care of our Good Shepherd, the very Lamb of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.