We started a series on the Good Shepherd for November and it seemed right to begin with Psalm 23. The image of God as a Shepherd is an image of tranquility. Phillip Keller notes that sheep will not lay down unless they are fed, watered, not afraid of predators, and not annoyed by pests like insects. Take each one of those and maybe those are the conditions for peace and tranquility in your life too. We only worked through the first few verses.
One of the more disturbing images in the psalm is that part about a banquet surrounded by enemies. Verse 5 reads:
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Kenneth Bailey makes a connection I never noticed before. The beginning of the Psalm is about the Shepherd feeding the sheep in safety, a banquet protected by the Shepherd. The ending above is also about a banquet in the presence of enemies as well. It is what the Good Shepherd does, provide safety and protection so we can find tranquility in life. Well that’s what I wish I had said.