So often, we Scriblerians review books, talk about authors, and recommend the latest or the best that we’ve read ourselves. As I happened to read that most familiar of psalms, number twenty-three, I was reminded how much I take for granted when reading scripture. The Bible is literature, too!
“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.”
I’ve known Psalm 23 my whole life. When I was little, people read it to me. Later, I memorized it, and over a lifetime I have daily read the psalms for decades. When it’s number twenty-three’s turn, I tend to run through it once again. Ho-hum. And shame on me.
But it struck me on my last reading: how do these words sound to kids the first time they hear the psalm? What were my perceptions when I heard this at age three, five, eight?
I want to look at each verse through fresh eyes. Today, let’s start with verse one. Just the first part of it.
THEORETICAL CONVERSATION #1
You: The Lord is my Shepherd. What does that mean?
Kid: Oh! Oh! A shepherd wears a long robe and some kind of scarf on his head, and he carries a stick that looks like a candy cane, and he tells the sheep where to go.”
You: That’s right. And do the sheep always go where he tells them?
Kid: Yeah. But if they don’t, he has a dog that chases them back to all the other sheep.
You: What if he doesn’t have a dog?
Kid (takes a moment to think): He yells at ‘em?
You: Maybe, but that’s what the candy cane stick is for. He grabs the sheep with the hook part and pulls it back to the rest of the flock.
You: Yeah, but it doesn’t hurt as much as a wolf eating it after it runs away.
(Now, that could make an impression on a young mind!)
You: Do you know that Jesus was really talking about God and people? Jesus is the Shepherd and the people are sheep?
Kid: I’m a sheep?
You: You’re like a sheep. You don’t always know the right thing to do, but Jesus the Shepherd does. He tells you which way to go and what you ought to do.
Kid: So who is like the wolf?
You: Anyone who tells you to do something bad so you can get in trouble. The devil, for sure. Sometimes, bad people who try to get you to do the wrong thing could be called wolves.
Kid: But Jesus doesn’t grab me with a candy cane stick when I get in trouble.
You: No, but he uses people to make you behave or protect you from trouble. Remember when your dad held onto you so you wouldn’t go over the edge of the waterfall?
I could go on with this fictional conversation, but you get the idea. What if you had a similar talk with a child in your own life? Or maybe you already have. I’ll bet the child’s viewpoint was as refreshing to you as yours might be to him or her.
Once a week, I’ll be adding additional dialogs concerning Psalm 23 on my personal blog, www.my2ndnature.wordpress.com. Come on over and check it out. You might be able to use those conversations as a jumping off point for a discussion in your own family.