Yesterday morning - August 10 - I preached on the Good Shepherd text from John 10:11-21. The point of the message was to connect the "I Am" statements from John's Gospel to the Great I AM text of Exodus 3. In other words when Jesus said, "I Am the Good Shepherd" he was also saying something very important about the nature of the Father as well.
Clark Pinnock would often say that our view of God the Father is critical because we inevitably come to look like the God we believe in.
That got me to thinking about the way Psalm 23 would really sound if we were honest about the kind of God we believe in. So I wrote a few mutated versions of this beloved shepherd psalm. Several people asked for copies - so here they are...
Here is Psalm 23 for those of us convinced that God is the angry judge:
The Lord is my judge and taskmaster. He watches everything I do.
He keeps list after list of all my sin; he keeps track of my stray thoughts; he can’t wait to pour out his wrath on me.
He puts obstacles in my path just to see if I’ll be good or not.
Sometimes when things are going too good, he will place me in the darkest valley, it terrifies me to think of what he might do to me. His wrath and his fury are my likely destiny.
If you think he’s angry with me, you should see the way he’s going to treat my enemies. He will reign fire on their heads. I get giddy just thinking about it.
Yes, legalism, fear, and doing the right thing purely out of obligation will pursue me all the days of my life, and if I’m just good enough I will barely make it into the Lord’s house... maybe… I hope.
Here is Psalm 23 for those who see God as the great clock-maker who set everything up but has largely left us to our own devices:
The Lord is the great clock-maker and absentee landlord. For the rest, I’m pretty much on my own.
He gave me a good head on my shoulders; he handed me a book of rules; he expects me to make something decent out of my life.
He has hidden some tips and rules in the Bible that make my life seem to work better.
My goal is to avoid as much as possible dark valleys, but I fear no danger because I can probably handle it. My wits, my talent, and my clear understanding of God’s principles — they will protect me.
It is my purpose to live in complete safety and avoid my enemies. You wound up your clock, God; I’m still making it day-by-day.
Yes, I will grab all the gusto I can without risking too much all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the rules of the Lord as long as I live.
Here is the 23rd Psalm for a generation of "Moralistic Therapeutic Deists":
The Lord is my grand parent in the sky. He shows up when I need him.
He lets me pursue my dreams; he is a great addition to my life; wants me to be happy.
I pretty much do what I want, and try my best to be a good person. I don’t really need to throw his name around.
I’m trying life on my own. Now, if for some reason I walk through the darkest valley, I will show up to church and beg him to show up. His last minute help – it bails me out.
I live indistinctively enough to not have many enemies. You are a great addition to my life; my life works so well with you added in!
Yes, lukewarmness and spiritual apathy will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will show up in the Lord’s house whenever I need him.
May our prayer always be instead:
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff— they protect me.
You set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.