By Henry W. Baker
The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me;
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home, rejoicing, brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spreadst a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and oh, what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!
And so through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.
- People who view life through a secular lens do not understand how Christians can trust God’s provision. The psalmist who wrote the text that is the basis for this hymn viewed life through the eyes of faith, and he observed that God provided everything he needed. The psalmist lived in the Iron Age and had no electricity, running water or health insurance. He had none of the things contemporary people believe are essential. Why did he believe that he lacked nothing?
- Two powerful forces work on people in the US to make them believe that they need things. Advertising constantly lures people to feel that no matter what they possess, it is not nearly as good as the latest iteration. Politicians pressure people to feel needy by constantly adding to the list of basic necessities. Both pressures are strengthened by the secular view that evolution makes us different from people of the Iron Age. How does the hymn writer respond to that concept? What word in verse 2 indicates the perspective that shapes the hymn writer’s lens for viewing reality?
- The secular view of life is that each of us must look within for vision and for strength to achieve the vision. When we get lost in life, we must search ourselves for courage and for the will to get straightened out. Where does the hymn writer get his vision and strength? How does he get past the bad times?
- The secular view is that whatever makes me happy is the right thing for me. The secular view does not look to any standard other than my personal sense of gratification. If personal gratification is the only standard for happiness and fulfillment, a secular government will necessarily be obligated to enable and energize whatever produces a sense of personal gratification. Describe the hymn writer’s view of happiness. How does the final verse reveal the hymn writer’s understanding of the source of happiness? How is this view different from that of a secular government?