“My Shepherd, You Supply My Need” (ELW 782)
1 My Shepherd, you supply my need;
most holy is your name.
In pastures fresh you make me feed,
beside the living stream.
You bring my wand’ring spirit back
when I forsake your ways,
and lead me, for your mercy’s sake,
in paths of truth and grace.
2 When I walk through the shades of death,
your presence is my stay;
one word of your supporting breath
drives all my fears away.
Your hand, in sight of all my foes,
does still my table spread;
my cup with blessings overflows,
your oil anoints my head.
3 The sure provisions of my God
attend me all my days;
oh, may your house be my abode
and all my work be praise.
Here would I find a settled rest,
while others go and come;
no more a stranger or a guest,
but like a child at home.
My three-year-old is a cheerful little guy. He loves to explore, and he’s happy pretty much anywhere. But—like most of us, I suspect—he’s most comfortable at home. He talks more; he laughs more; he’s more independent.
This hymn retells Psalm 23, and then adds a couple lines expanding on what it might feel like to live the psalm’s concluding promise, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). And what image does the hymnwriter draw on? A child at home: “Here would I find a settled rest, while others go and come; no more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.” This is a picture of comfort and ease, security and stability, peace and delight. Surely this is exactly what we’ll enjoy in the presence of God forever.
God of comfort, you care for us like a loving parent tends to a child. Shelter us in your mighty arms, give us ease and rest in your presence, and fill us with joy at the prospect of life with you, both now and forever. Amen.