A small group of us is currently reading through Paul E Miller’s The Praying Life this year, just taking a chapter or so a week. Was really challenged by this observation on Psalm 23. Miller makes the simply point that:
Our modern, secular world has removed the Shepherd from Psalm 23. Look what happens to the psalm when you remove the Good Shepherd and everything he does:
A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
We are left obsessing over our wants in the valley of the shadow of death, paralyzed by fear in the presence of our enemies. No wonder so many are so cynical. With the Good Shepherd gone, we are alone in a world of evil. (p88)
It’s very striking. You get the point? Without God, we’re on our own in the universe. Which is, of course, precisely what the new atheists persist in reminding us.