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Sunday, February 7, 2016

PSALM 23

GASTLY GUDE AND ENDLESS

 

After an unusually sleepless night, (okay, a book induced--o night of little sleep) I got up and did my routine with coffee and a waffle and a little blogging, then went back to bed. You know that groggy feeling when you can't quite wake up?  Well, I thought I had some kind of animal in bed with me snuffling my ear.  I thought it must be a small animal and wondered if it was a cat.  I don't have a cat.  Then I thought well, it might be a weiner dog.  Nada, don't have one any more.  A pug mug?  Nope.  It was Maggie our Springer, our one and only dog now, who snuck up on the bed with ear snuggles no less.  I couldn't, however, bring myself to open my eyes to figure what creature was in the bed with me.  Creature comfort?   After all that brain activity, I went back sound asleep.  Who needs to count sheep when you have all those beasties to account for?




Well, wake me up and slap my cheeks, something else snuck up on me.  As I was making my merry way through the Psalms, I suddenly realized that after Psalm 22 comes Psalm 23.  What do you know!  This is the most read, quoted and loved passage in the Psalms, indeed, in the Old Testament.  So what do you do with a Psalm like that?  I will do much like Adam Clarke did who oft refers to the Old Psalter which rather takes us back to the green green grass of the isles where sheep feast on lush pastures.  First the Psalm tells us that God is our Good Shepherd.  Secondly, He is compared to a "free-hearted man given to hospitality, and entertaining his guests bountifully."  "As a flock, they have the most excellent pasture; as guests, they have the most nutritive and abundant fare."  Want to go there?  I do!

"The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want."

 
As I've told the tale before, when our son was a toddler he was horrified to hear me read this.
"We shall not want the Lord as our shepherd?" he asked.
Yes, we want Him!


"Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd; the Shepherd who, to save His flock, laid down His own life.  'I shall not want' How can they?  He their Shepherd has all power in heaven and earth; therefore, He can protect them.  The silver and gold are His, and the cattle on a thousand hills; and, therefore, He can sustain them.  He has all that they need; and His heart if full of love to mankind; and therefore, He will withhold from them no manner of thing that is good."

 
"He leads them out and in, so that they find pasture and safety.  He knows where to feed them, and in the course of His grace and providence leads them in the way they should go.  He watches over them, and keeps them from being destroyed by ravenous beasts.  If any have strayed, He brings them back.  He brings them to the shade of scorching heat: in times of persecution and affliction He finds out an asylum for them. (These waters shall be gentle flowing streams, still waters,--not turbulent and violent.") He takes care that they shall lack no manner of thing that is good."

 
"  But who are His flock?  All real penitents,--all true believers;--all who obediently follow His example, abstaining from every appearance of evil, and in a holy life and conversation shew forth the virtues of Him who called them from darkness into His marvelous light.  'My sheep hear my voice, and follow me.'"  These are His lambkins.

 
"But who are not His flock?  Neither the backslider in heart;--nor the vile Antinomian, who thinks the more he sins the more the grace of God shall be magnified in saving him;--nor those who fondly suppose they are covered with the righteousness of Christ while living in sin;--nor the crowd of the indifferent and careless, nor the immense herd of Laodicean loiterers; nor the fiery bigots who would exclude all from heaven but themselves, and the party who believe as they do...Let not any of these come forward to eat of this pasture or take of the children's bread.  These are goats.


I'm using an old calf skin 120 year old edition of Adam Clarke's Commentary.  Imagine this...
The Old Psalter some say goes back to an Old Irish Treatise of the Psalms from the ninth century, where Ireland and Old English and Latin collide in this early transcript of the Psalms.

 
OLD PSALTER
 
"Lord governs me,
 and nothing sal want to me. 
En stede of pastour
hare he me sett.
Lord Crist es my kyng,
and for thi (therefore)
nathyng sal me want:
that es, in hym
I shall be siker, and suffisand,
afor I hope in hyn
gastly gude and endless.
And he ledes me in
stede of pastoure,
that es, understandyrg of his worde,
and delyte in his luf.
Qwar I am siker ot be fild,
thar in that stede (place)
he sett me,
to be nurysht til perfectioun.
 

 

 
On the water of rehetnng (strengthing) forth
he me broght.  
On the water of grace er we broght forth,
that makes to recover our
strengthe that we lost in syn.
And rehetels (strengthens) 
us to do gude werkes.
My saule e turned,
that es of a sinful wreche,
he made it ryghtwis,
and waxing of luf in mekenes.
First he turns our saules, til hym;
and than he ledes and feds it. 
Ten graces he tells in this Psalme,
the quilk God gyfs til his lufers,
(them that love Him.)"

 
"Thof I war dwelling imang tha,
that mouther has knowing of God,
ne luf, or in myddis of this lyf,
that es schadow of ded;
forit es blak formyrkenes of syn;
and it ledes til dede,
and il men,
imang quam gude men wones;
--I sal nout drede il,
pryve' nor apert;
for thu ert with me in my hert,
qwar I fele thu so,
that eftir the shadow of dede,
I be with the in thi vera lyf."




 
"Sothly I sal drede na nylle;
for thi wande,
that es thi light discipline,
that chastise me as thi son;
and thi staf,
that es thi stalworth help,
that I lene me til,
and haldes me uppe;
thai have comforthed me;
lerand, (learning, teaching,) me
qwat I suld do;
and baldand my thaught in the,
that es my comfort."
 
Are we on the Emerald Isle yet?

 
"Gastly gude and endless...
es understandgyr of his worde,
and delyte in his luf...
to be nurysht till perfectioun."
 
Okay, if you have trouble reading Old English
at least get this...
 
Gastly good and endless...
is understanding of his word,
and delight in his love... 
to be nourished till perfection.
 
Graze, rest , lean on his staff...


 
'Thy rod and thy staff''
"The  shepherd's crook...some sort of rest or support.
With the rod or crook the shepherd could defend his sheep;
and with it lay hold of their horns or legs to pull them out of
thickets, bogs, pits, or waters. 
We are not to suppose that by the rod correction is meant...
Besides, correction and chastisement do not comfort;
--they are not, at least for the present, joyous, but grievous;--
nor can any person look forward to them with comfort."

 
 
A SHEEP IS A STRAGGLING CREATURE
 
"He restores.  If I err and go astray,
and walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
(for a sheep is a straggling creature)
I will fear no evil;
for his rod and staff comfort me,
His Law and His Gospel
both contribute to my correction and support."

 
"Thus, as a good shepherd, He supplies me with necessaries, that I want nothing:
but, over and above, as a bountiful Lord..."
He gladdens my heart."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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