Typically speaking, Psalm 23 is typically read on deathbeds or at funerals, which is a shame. It was never meant to be a funeral dirge but a song of encouragement. We tend to do a disservice to the church if we teach or imply it is anything other than a source of triumph. This is how Susan Hunt presents the the 23rd Psalm in Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23. This book was published back in 2008, but I just found it at the T4G conference this month. I took it home and read it to my youngest daughter, a chapter (2-3 pages) each night, and she and I both loved it. We were sorry when we finished. Of course, she will get to relive part of the story as I am using it as an illustration in this Sunday’s sermon.
Each chapter begins with a line from the Psalm (The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want) and then tells the tale of two little sheep (Sammy and My Friend/Precious) learning to trust the shepherd through all stages of life. At the end of each story is a “Talk about it” section in the back of the book. It’s there that Hunt gives Scripture to the thoughts in the story, along with pointed questions to help the child grasp the concept.
The pictures are stunning for the children, but they do not distract from the story. They are simple yet powerful, as we see My Friend change from sickly to healthy. This is probably my favorite Christian children’s story. I highly recommend parents of children ages 10 and under (though older ages may enjoy it as well) to get a copy and read it to their children. It made a wonderful bedtime story.
(From Chapter 1)
“You sure seem happy,” the little sheep said.
“Of course I’m happy. I have the best shepherd in the whole world. I know that I will never want for anything.”
“How can you know that?”
“Because my shepherd loves me and he always takes care of me,” Sammy answered.
“I don’t understand,” the little sheep said. “Look at this pasture. There’s never enough grass to eat. I’m always hungry. And our water isn’t very good either.”
“I’m sorry you’re hungry,” Sammy replied. “I always have enough food and water because my shepherd provides everything I need.”
“Do you mean that you never have to walk through scary valleys or climb high hills to get to different pastures?”
“Oh, no, I don’t mean that I never have to go to hard places. But my shepherd is always with me and he helps me go through those hard places.”