Saturday, August 8, 2009
Thanks to Phillip Keller for his most worthy book, "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm Twenty-three". Keller, a Canadian, student and practitioner of agronomy, one-time shepherd, world traveler, nature photographer and Christian writer and lay speaker. The following was inspired by one of his chapters.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
In the warm season when the shepherd had the flock in remote pastures, the bugs were the major problem. Their invasion of the eyes, nostrils and mouth could drive the sheep well beyond distraction. Afflicted ones could literally fret themselves to death under the siege.
The only relief came with the wind or with a special potion of oil and herbs which the shepherd poured upon the face of the willing patient. Until the sheep got an understanding of the blessings of these remedies, something had to be done to get its attention and to cause it to stand still. Nothing did the job but the soothing sound of the concerned shepherd's voice and the words of empathy and assurance which he employed.
Interestingly the two main symbols for the Holy Spirit in scripture are wind and oil! First the Master's voice must be heard, then the submission, then the gracious application of the "Helper". The Greek word for "comforter" used in Jesus' Upper Room message to his disciples translated "comforter, helper, paraclete, stand-by, supporter". The "bugs" which torment us - guilt, insult, meddling, envy, impatience, slander, unbelief, self-pity, lust, pride will all be dispersed, if not eradicated, by the Helper.
We are told in Galatians chapter five that the Spirit's application brings "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance". Consider them all as sparkling facets of the diamond of love. Diamonds, by the way, achieve their richness under extreme pressure. Common stuff becomes precious.
So, my friend, listen for the Voice, submit, be comforted, be changed.