Wednesday, March 7, 2012
What I Read Wednesday: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller
After a long hiatus, that wasn't much of a hiatus for this painting, cleaning, packing, moving...tired...lady, I'm back.
A couple of plusses...
1. All of our belongings (that we intend to keep) have been moved from the old house to the new. Many of them are still packed (a fact that is beginning to grate on my poor husband's nerves), but they are moved.
2. I lost 6 pounds in the last six to eight weeks of work...and that was living on McDonald's and Taco Bell for about two of those weeks. Not too shabby.
It's not completely done. I still have painting to do...perhaps someday I'll share that story, but not today. And of course there's the hanging up of all the pictures, shelves, and knick knacks. But we're in, and there's time to get settled (though not much if I want to keep my husband happy). ;-)
One thing I have found a little time for in all the ruckus is reading. I have a small tbr (to be reviewed) stack of books (not to be confused with the much larger TBR - To Be Read - shelf, which at a rate of one a week, is full enough to keep me busy for over a year, no kidding. But I digress).
So now I'll bring on the first post back What I Read Wednesday: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.
The image I display is from Barnes & Noble's website. My copy is very old and was published especially for a Billy Graham Crusade, which I think is kinda cool.
A wonderful lady at our church recommended this book to me years ago when my family was living in her house (Yes, living in her house. It's a huge house...and I already mentioned she is wonderful. Yes, that wonderful). This wonderful lady bought a book for my husband and me that we thought at the time was this one, but it was more of a "highlights of..." kind of book, not the real thing.
Fast forward a few years to last fall's Friends of the Library book sale. You know, the sale where hardbacks are a dollar and everything else is less? On the last day of the sale (when even hardbacks are only a quarter) I found this 142 page treasure, and the lady running the till gave it to me...for free. Yeah.
Well, it's worth so very much more. Mr. Keller, himself a shepherd for many years of his life, examines the lines of the Psalm one by one, expounding on what they mean to a shepherd and the shepherd's motivation for so many of the things he does for, to, and with his sheep.
A couple of my favorite chapters are Chapter 2, "I Shall Not Want," in which we learn how human beings are indeed very like sheep; and Chapter 3 "He Maketh Me to Lie Down in Green Pastures," in which Mr. Keller reveals the state of sublime perfection a sheep must experience in order actually to lie down, and explains that sublime perfection is what our Good Shepherd offers, if we will only accept it.
By far, for me, the best part of this book is Chapter 10 "Thou Anointest My Head With Oil..." It is not exaggerating to say this chapter changed my life. In it Keller tells how summer insect infestations often lead sheep to seek relief in self-destructive ways. The watchful shepherd will see the early signs of irritation and apply to each sheep's head and nose an ointment that will repel the pestering bugs.
"What an incredible transformation this would make among the sheep. Once the oil had been applied to the sheep's head there was an immediate change in behavior...she sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment" (116).
The Christian parallel to the ointment applied by the shepherd is the Holy Spirit, "...Christ Himself, our Shepherd, urges us to ask for the Holy Spirit to be given to us by the Father." When life's little irritations bug us we can pray, as Mr. Keller recommends, "O Lord, I can't cope with these petty, annoying, peevish problems. Please apply the oil of Your Spirit to my mind. Both at the conscious and sub-conscious levels of my thought-life enable me to act and react just as you would" (118).
Or if you are me (or like me) you can pray, "Anoint my head with oil. Anoint my head with oil..."
Mr. Keller says, "It will surprise you how promptly He complies with such a request made in deadly earnest" (118). It's true. In the past months of buying a house, painting a house, and moving into a house, I've had ample occasion to try it. It really does work.
I intend to re-read this book. Often.
Here's a link so you can buy it and read it for yourself. Often. It's the best $4.99 you'll ever spend.
I give this book 6 stars because 5 just isn't enough.