Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Lectionary Studies and Practical Theology
The Rev. Dr. Craven E. Williams
Covenant Church United Methodist
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
This is the world’s favorite Psalm. Period. In the agrarian culture of ancient Israel, before fences contained grazing livestock, shepherds were the guardians of economic capital. The Israelite marketplace required sheep for wool, milk, and meat, for those who could afford it. Sheep, those fluffy creatures could be affectionate, stubborn, stupid, aimless, passive, easily
startled and always hungry.
Sheep are prone to wander off and become easily vulnerable. Foxes, wolves, and jackals were enemies. A shepherd needs to be strong but not overpowering. If the shepherd is too forceful, the flock will scatter. If the shepherd is too gentle, the flock will meander.
There’s always been a tsunami challenging us: plagues, famine, war, fires floods, storms, etc. These troubles have affected sheep, as well as each of us.
Today we face a new crisis - a virus that has raced across the continent, cruised across the sea and now baffles the medical world as well as those who govern the world.
How reassuring it is to know that even now the good shepherd is watching over us. Although we like sheep may go astray, the Lord is strong and gentle, a constant prodder and defender, leading faithful people on straight paths. It is comforting to know that I will dwell in God’s house forever.
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.
1. Why is a shepherd an appropriate metaphor for God?
2. What kind of enemies effect us?
3. Why are “right paths” desired by the Psalmist?
4. Why is a table prepared in presence of enemies?