Foraging around the church building this past week I spent time in an old Bible, a magnificent specimen of the endearment which the Word of God held in the hearts of some in days gone by. Published sometime in the 1880’s, it was filled with over 2000 illustrative images seeking to provide “flannel board” understanding to the reader. The tome was near 6 inches thick, and 12 to 14 inches square; I spent quite a while on my historical journey through this blessed effort, to find as the fruit of my efforts a section in the back, of ancient prose. Several were addressing The Shepherd’s Psalm–Psalm 23.
Some are moved by this psalm to many degrees. I think of the soul who was so moved by the theological richness to pen the English words in rhyme. Somewhere in the midst of the industrial revolution, Presidents Chester Arthur and Grover Cleveland, the presentation of the Eiffel Tower, the first World Series game, the first patent on a roll film camera (Kodak), and electric streetcars…somewhere in the midst of this movement toward the explosive 20thCentury, yes, in the midst of the flurry of “modernity” some soul in the quiet of their heart was moved to recount the depths of solace and hope held in this psalmic gem.
This work could easily have been lost to antiquity as I doubt there are many of these Bibles around anymore. If they are, I would doubt many people are seeking to foray into the appendical catacombs ensconced therein. To honor the individuals who composed this volume, and to honor the heart once again of this long-ago departed saint, but most of all to honor the Shepherd of the sheep, I offer this work once again, well over the 130 years since it was first penned, as an encore.
I pray the truths would be both a balm, and a light to the sheep of His pasture.
My Shepherd is the Lord Most High,
And all my wants shall be supplied;
In pastures green he makes me lie,
And leads by streams which gently glide.
He in his mercy doth restore,
My soul when sinking in distress;
For his namesake he evermore,
Leads me in paths of righteousness.
Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale,
Ev’n there no evil will I fear,
Because thy presence shall not fail,
Thy rod and staff my soul shall cheer.
For me a table thou hast spread,
Prepared before the face of foes;
With oil thou dost anoint my head;
My cup is filled and overflows.
Goodness and mercy shall not cease,
Through all my days to follow me;
And in God’s house my dwelling place
With him forevermore shall be.