The King of Love My Shepherd Is (ELW 502)
1 The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
and he is mine forever.
2 Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.
3 Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me,
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home, rejoicing, brought me.
4 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.
5 Thou spreadst a table in my sight;
thine unction grace bestoweth;
and, oh, what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!
6 And so, through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.
These moving words were written in 1868 by Sir Henry Williams Baker, a Church of England priest. Based on a Welsh version of Psalm 23, it speaks of the sheep and the shepherd. With three sheep for every person in Wales, this psalm and these lyrics certainly spoke readily to this mountainous nation.
Never a farmer or shepherd, I confess no experience at leading sheep, but have read that sheep are led to still waters, or as Baker wrote, living waters. Sheep will not drink out of rushing rivers. Sheep won’t lie down until they are fed, so they are led to green or verdant pastures.
Thank God for the images that help us understand our creator and savior. What image do you have when Jesus is on your mind? In good times as well as difficult ones, I hold onto the words of promise in verse one: “Whose goodness faileth never.”
Thanks for your never-failing goodness in all of our lives. May our prayers be filled with thanksgiving. Amen.