This psalm belongs to us if we can truthfully say these first five words; then the rest of the psalm is our spiritual possession.
One of my friends was telling me the story of a traveler in Switzerland. He was a Christian. One day he came across a little shepherd boy to whom he told the story of the good Shepherd who had given his life for the sheep. He tried to teach him the twenty-third psalm but the little fellow could not read, and so made slow work of it. At last the man said to him, ” I will tell you how to read a part of it on your fingers. Just take the first five words, and you will have a word for each finger.” So the little fellow counted the words on his fingers, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This was only to keep them in his memory.
A while after that the same traveler was passing through Switzerland again, and thought he would look up his little shepherd boy. He came to the place where he had lived, and was met by the mother of the lad, who in answer to the inquiry concerning her boy said that he was dead. The gentleman expressed his sorrow, and said that he had hoped to see him again.
Then the mother said, “Are you the man that taught my boy to say something on his fingers?” He replied that he was, Then she said to him, “My boy, just before he died, told me to tell you, if you ever came this way again, that he died holding the fourth finger of his hand.” The little fellow was just laying claim to the possessive pronoun “my.”
I think I should like to die like that. But it is better far to know that we may live claiming this promise. He is my shepherd–all that he is is mine, his mind, his peace, his meekness, his gentleness, indeed, his spirit, all my own.
There is surely thus no excuse for failure, and there can be no reason why we should go astray.
“Thou art my light and my salvation;
Of whom shall I be afraid?”
SUGGESTIONS FOR TODAY:
1. Try to realize that everything in the good Shepherd is yours for today just as truly as if
there were no one else to be considered but yourself.
2. By an act of appropriating faith lay claim to everything in him that you lack in yourself, his patience for your impatience, his strength for your weakness. In every case claim from him the grace opposite to your failing.
3. Remember that no mistake of yours in the past affects his love for today. The record is all clean; you can make it what you will.