The Lord is my shepherd…
– Psalm 21:1
Modern man hears Psalm 23 and thinks, “How quaint; how old-fashioned.” And that’s the positive reaction. Yet that positive reaction misses the mark just as the negative ones do.
To the modern man, “shepherd” is a metaphor completely out-of-step with modern life and modern needs. Urban and suburban life is deemed incompatible with the bucolic countryside, its “green pastures” and “quiet waters.” Psalm 23 may have had meaning for the ancients, pop culture would say, but what has it to do with modernity…and how can it help me face the day that is before me?
Our ignorance of ancient texts is showing. “Shepherd” was a metaphor for a leader or king. Therefore, it was a figure of speech that spoke of power, practical wisdom, and ruling authority. We may not see shepherds every day but we are certainly confronted with leaders carrying power, practical wisdom, and ruling authority.
Everyone today has leaders. What makes the people of God different is that their leader is the Lord. Jesus is His name. They follow Him.