"MY SHEPHERD WILL SUPPLY MY NEED"
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Ps. 23.1)
INTRO.: A hymn based on Psalm 23 is "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need." The text was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). It was first published in his 1719 collection The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. Watts actually did three paraphrases of Psalm 23, the short meter version of which, beginning, "The Lord my shepherd is, I shall be well supplied," has appeared in many of our books. The tune (Resignation or Hopewell) to which the common meter version is usually set a traditional early American melody of unknown origin. Its first known appearance was in the 1828 edition of Beauties of Heaven compiled by Freeman Lewis. It became rather well known after appearing in the 1832 Genuine Church Music compiled by Joseph Funk. The modern version appeared in the 1854-1855 Southern Harmony compiled by William Walker.
The song became popular in a choral setting by the American composer Virgil Thomson, who also used the melody in some of his film scores. A harmonization commonly used was made in 1965 by J. Harold Moyer (b. 1927). Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal in an arrangement by the editor J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann, and in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand in an arrangement by L. Mark Blankenship made for McKinney Music. The text was originally in six stanzas, but with this tune, each stanza consists of two of the original.
The song points to the Lord as our Shepherd who leads us and provides for our needs.
I. Stanza 1 focuses upon the Shepherd
"My Shepherd will supply my need, Jehovah is His name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed, Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake, In paths of truth and grace."
A. Because we are as sheep going astray, we need a shepherd: 1 Pet. 2.25
B. The name of our shepherd is Jehovah, the eternal one: Exo. 6.3
C. As our Shepherd, He makes us feed in pastures fresh: Isa. 40.11
II. Stanza 2 focuses upon the Shepherd’s presence
"When I walk through the shades of death Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows, Thine oil anoints my head."
A. The shades of death are dangerous situations in which the Shepherd’s presence drives away our fear: Heb. 13.5-6
B. Also, in the sight of our foes, the Shepherd’s presence spreads our table so, again, we have nothing to fear: Matt. 10.28
C. And His presence causes our heads to be anointed with oil and our cup to overflow, symbolizing the spiritual blessings that He offers His followers: Eph. 1.3
III. Stanza 3 focuses upon the Shepherd’s house
"The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode, And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home."
A. The Lord has promised to be with us all of our days: Matt. 28.18-20
B. As long as we live, we abide in His spiritual house, the church: 1 Tim. 3.15
C. Yet, even after this life is over, we can have a home in heaven and find the settled rest of eternal life: 1 Pet. 1.3-5, 1 Jn. 2.25
CONCL.: The 23rd Psalm is one of the best-known and most-loved portions of the scripture. There are many, many versions of Psalm 23 which are used as hymns, and many other hymns are based on or draw language from the Psalm. The angular nature of the melody most often used with this one seems to bring out the meaning of the Psalm in a special way. Just as people never seem to grow tired of reading and hearing the 23rd Psalm, so I should never grow tired of being reminded that "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need."