‘”The Lord is my shepherd.” My Shepherd. Religion is a personal thing. Really speaking, your religion consists in your personal relationship to God in Jesus Christ. Not mere profession, but actual possession is what counts. Christianity emphasizes the worth of the individual and his personal relation to God. (…) Jesus calleth His sheep by name, not by number.
At the close of a sermon in a church in the Highlands of Scotland the preacher, who was supplying the pulpit for a few Sundays, was asked to call upon a shepherd boy who was very sick. Arm in arm with one of the elders of the church the minister crossed the moor, climbed the hillside, and came to the cottage where the boy and his widowed mother lived. After knocking at the door the visitors were admitted by the mother. Her face showed the marks of long vigil. The boy was her only child. The minister and elder went into the room where the sick boy lay on his cot. The minister, looking upon the pale, haggard face of the sick shepherd boy, asked him tenderly, “Laddie, do you know the Twenty-third Psalm?”
Every Scotch boy knows the Twenty-third Psalm, and so the little fellow replied, “Yes, sir, I ken (know) the Psalm well.”
“Will you repeat it to me?” said the minister to the boy.
Slowly and tenderly the lad quoted the words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” unto the end of the Psalm.
“Do you see,” said the minister to the boy, “that in the first clause of the first verse there is just one word for each finger. Hold up your hand, laddie; take the second finger of your right hand, put it on the fourth finger of your left, hold it over your heart and say with me, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd.'”
The fourth finger of the left hand! Why that finger? Every woman knows. It is the ring finger. Who placed that ring on your finger? My friend, my lover, my husband; the man who is more to me and different to me than any other and all other men in this world; the man without whom life would not be worth living; my friend, my lover, my husband.
The following Sunday the elder and the minister again crossed the moor and came to the cottage on the hillside. As the mother opened the door to admit them they saw by the expression on her face that a deeper sorrow had fallen on her heart since they last saw her. She took them, silently and solemnly, into a little room, and there, covered with a snow-white sheet, lay the lifeless form of the shepherd laddie, her only child. As the minister took the white sheet and passed it from forehead to chin, from chin to breast, and from breast to waist, he saw, frozen stiff in death, the second finger of the right hand on the fourth of the left hand, which was fastened in death over his heart. The mother exclaimed amid her tears, “He died saying, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd.'”
What a world of difference that little word my makes, does it not? As a pastor I have often stood by the open grave that was to receive the body of someone’s beloved daughter, the light and joy of some heart. I sought to be deeply sympathetic with those who were suffering bereavement. I tried to mourn with those who mourned, and weep with those who wept, and I think I did, so far as it is possible for a friend to sympathize. But one day I stood by an open grave when my daughter, my child, my own darling girl, my Dorothy, was placed beneath the sod. Ah! then I knew what grief was. Ah, what a world of difference that little word my makes!
It will not profit you much, my friend, to be able to say, “The Lord is a Shepherd”; you must be more personal; you must say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
A Shepherd both mighty to save and to keep—
Yes, this is the Shepherd, the Shepherd we need,
And He is a Shepherd indeed!
Is this Shepherd, who loves you, yours?
—Ada R. Habershon’
Source: William Evans, The Shepherd Psalm, “The Lord is My Shepherd; I Shall Not Want”, Religion is A Personal Thing, p 20-23 (1921)