Sunday, April 14

More Sweet Than Even Fancy Could Have Imagined

Today I'll quote from the opening of a sermon preached in 1907 by Charles Spurgeon as I meditate on the Psalm 23:1:
As 'truth is stranger than fiction,' so the truth that David spoke is more sweet than even fancy could have imagined. And it has more beauty than even the dream of the enthusiast could have pictured.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
How naturally it seems to strike on the ear as uttered by David who had himself been a shepherd boy! He remembers how he had led his flock by the waters in the warm summer, how he had made them lie down in shady nooks by the side of the river, how, on sultry days, he had led them on the high hills that they might feel the cool air and how, when the winter set in, he had led them into the valleys that they might be hidden from the stormy blasts. Well could he remember the tender care with which he protected the lambs and carried them—and how he had tended the wounded of the flock. And now, appropriating to himself the familiar figure of a sheep, he says, 'The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.'

First of all, there are some preliminaries before a anyone can say this—it is absolutely necessary that they should feel themselves to be like sheep by nature, for they cannot know that God is their Shepherd unless they feel in themselves that they have the nature of sheep. Secondly, there is a sweet assurance—a person must have had some testimony of Divine care and goodness in the past, otherwise they cannot appropriate to themselves this verse, "The Lord is my Shepherd." And thirdly, there is a holy confidence. I wonder how many there are here who can place all their future in the hand of God and can join with David in uttering, 'The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.'
For my prayer Love M. Willis's 1859 hymn:
Hear, O God, the prayer I offer—
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength, that I may ever
live my life courageously.

Not forever in green pastures
do I ask my way to be,
but the steep and rugged pathway
may I tread rejoicingly.

Not forever by still waters
would I idly rest and stay,
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along the way.

Be my strength in hours of weakness,
in my wanderings be my guide;
through endeavor, failure, danger,
be the shepherd by my side.
✙ Love M. Willis, 1859 (adapted)

I prefer this tune adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams for this hymn.

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