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[Embrace Divine Love as Your *JOYFUL* Shepherd, You Will Not Want!]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

for July 30, 2017

by Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO
web address:


This week's Bible Lesson describes God, Love, as our all-knowing Shepherd, tending to our every need. The Golden Text announces that our God will feed us, His flock, like a shepherd, and gather us lambs with His arm, and carry us against his chest, and "gently lead those that are with young."

The promise that our Shepherd will "gently lead those with young” comforts mothers, fathers, teachers, and, of course, counselors at summer camp. Picture watchful summer camp counselors walking hand in hand with young campers, shepherding them while they hike, swim and ride horses. Like shepherds with sheep, counselors help campers to stay safe, eat good food, drink plenty of water, gain confidence… and have fun. What a great image—shepherds making life fun for sheep! Our Divine Shepherd certainly wants us to have fun, to laugh, and to sing with joy. Try searching the Internet for videos of “sheep having fun.” Here’s one that came up for me: Notice that in this video, it is the adult sheep that are being silly, as if they’re teaching the young ones that having fun is good.

The Responsive Reading is full our Divine Shepherd’s promises to keep us sheep carefree and strong, where we belong:

• The Shepherd will love us "with an everlasting love”
• The Shepherd “will cause [us] to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein [we] shall not stumble:
• The Shepherd will make sure that our "soul shall be as a watered garden”; and [we won't "sorrow any more at all.”
• The Shepherd "will turn [our] mourning into joy, and will comfort [us], and make [us] rejoice from [our] sorrow.”

The 23rd Psalm forms the structure for the five sections of this week’s lesson on “Love.” This Psalm provides endless inspiration. Perhaps we can each commit to learning it by heart this week. You may also enjoy learning hymn 584, “The Lord is My Shepherd," in the new Christian Science Hymnal.

Section 1: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The first section inspires us with ideas on the phrase, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Like a shepherd with a flock, God is "in the midst of us, he will save us, rejoice over us with joy, and joy over us with singing.” (B1) See? Our joyful Shepherd does want us to have fun… our Shepherd is singing with joy in the midst of us! Our Shepherd will joyfully seek us out and deliver us when we seem to be scattered by a “cloudy and dark day.” (B2) Picture those summer camp counselors making even a rainy camp day fun for campers…maybe with a game of mud soccer! Of course, moms and dads and teachers and friends can also show the tenderness, watchfulness and joy of a shepherd. Here’s another fun video of shepherds—this one shows shepherds attaching Christmas lights to their sheep and creating fun designs with creative sheep herding:

These first citations and the Responsive Reading set a joyous tone for our Bible Lesson. Setting a joyous tone is important since popular culture sometimes uses the 23rd Psalm in a funereal way that makes it sound like a dark and gloomy prayer, but this prayer is not gloomy. It is not somber. It is not depressing. It is uplifting. The 23rd Psalm promises protection and joy that keeps sheep carefree and strong, where they belong.

To illustrate the idea of the Divine Shepherd leading the sheep with joy, this section includes the story of God leading Moses and the children of Israel through the wilderness. Along the way to the Promised Land, they faced many hardships, but all along the way, Divine Love showed Moses, who showed the children of Israel, that they had all that they needed. When they were hungry they were given manna, and Moses reminded them, "This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.” (B4) The Lord was their Shepherd; they did not want for daily bread. (B5) Note that Hymn 463 in the new Christian Science Hymnal provides a new setting for Hymn 46, “Day by day the manna fell."

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy gives the scientific explanation for the manna in the wilderness. She writes, “Man is sustained [fed] by God, the divine Principle of of being. The earth, at God’s command, brings forth food for man’s use.” (S3) The Biblical proof of Divine Love’s provision was that "In the wilderness, streams flowed from the rock, and manna fell from the sky.” (S4) And, just in case we didn’t catch the theme, the main idea is repeated in both the Bible and Science and Health: "[DIVINE LOVE] is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (B5, S5) Love, our Divine Shepherd, provides daily bread and fun. Fun does not fade.

Section 2: "[LOVE] maketh me to lie down in green pastures: [LOVE] leadeth me beside the still waters.
[LOVE] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]: [LOVE] leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.”

Section 2 continues the inspiration of the 23rd Psalm, explaining that our Shepherd, also known as our Father, knows what things we need, even before we ask. (B6) We can trust our Shepherd to take care of us, and we are safe "under the shadow of thy wings.” (B7)

To illustrate the idea of our Shepherd caring for our needs, this section includes the story of our Divine Shepherd leading the prophet Elijah to water during an extreme drought while he was being pursued by his enemy, Ahab. God tells Elijah where to go, and tells him that he will be provided with fresh water from a brook, meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening. (B8)

"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” Yes! Elijah proved that God can indeed furnish a table, a full meal, in the wilderness. "Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.” (B9) Elijah was so in tune with his Shepherd's directions that he was led to find what he needed, and was well fed.

Elijah learned firsthand the lesson that the Shepherd "maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” (B11)

Elijah proved that God is “a very present help in trouble.” He also learned that "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’” (S6)

Over and over, the Bible gives examples of the Shepherd taking care of those who listen for direction. (S7) The examples of the Shepherd’s gifts, like manna in the wilderness and fresh water during a drought, are not miracles, but are the Shepherd’s plan, the Law of the Shepherd. We should not doubt what is possible to our all-knowing and all-caring Shepherd (S8).

If we limited ourselves to thinking of our Shepherd as a physical being, a “corporeal person,” we would have doubts and fears about the Shepherd’s abilities to provide for us. For infinite, incorporeal (not a physical body) Love, “all things are possible.” (S9) “Love alone can impart the limitless idea of infinite Mind.” (S11)

Sticking with the theme of the lesson, this section concludes, "[LOVE] maketh me to lie down in green pastures: [LOVE] leadeth me beside the still waters.
[LOVE] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]: [LOVE] leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.” (S12)

Section 3: Jesus, the way shower, the demonstration of our Shepherd’s love.

Section 3 explains the role of Christ Jesus in revealing the full nature of our Shepherd to us. It isn’t enough for us to have a mere abstract and theoretical explanation of the Shepherd. We need a real way shower. Christ Jesus showed us that we are connected to God, Love, just as sheep are connected to their shepherd. Just as a shepherd isn’t a shepherd if there are no sheep; God wouldn’t be complete without us. Christ Jesus’ teaching and healing mission demonstrated how understanding our relationship to our loving Shepherd opens the eyes of the blind, and restores those that are bowed down. (B12)

Jesus is the way shower, "the door of the sheep.” He said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (B16) Other Bible translations use the word “gate” instead of “door”… both words provide an interesting way to think of Christ Jesus, the one who shows us the way to be with our Shepherd. [Click for Online version of this CC insights on our Shepherd.]

Mary Baker Eddy explains Jesus helped us understand our Shepherd and to know that our Shepherd is with us always. She writes, "His consummate [perfect and complete] example was for the salvation of us all, but only through doing the works which he did and taught others to do. His purpose in healing was not alone to restore health, but to demonstrate his divine Principle. He was inspired by God, by Truth and Love, in all that he said and did.” Note that according to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “consummate" is not limited to making (a marriage or relationship) complete by having sexual intercourse, but is instead "completing what was intended; to perfect; to bring or carry to the utmost point or degree.” Jesus’ complete and perfect example showed us the way to understand our relationship to our Shepherd, he brought and carried us to an awareness of our salvation. Mary Baker Eddy explains, "St. Paul says, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:' Jesus said, 'Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ (S17) Jesus way is the perfect way.

Love is our Shepherd. "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.” (B18)

Section 4: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Now that Section 3 explained Christ Jesus' role in shepherding us in the way of understanding God, Section 4 continues with the 23rd Psalm. The fourth section tells us how we can use the Christ-light that Jesus showed us to overcome the “valley of the shadow of death.” I’ve always loved that this Psalm doesn’t say the valley of death, but describes it as a “shadow” of death, the “shadow” of mortality. Its easy to get rid of a shadow; all we need is light. And, Christ Jesus showed us the light, the truth that illumines our lives, lifting the “shadow” of mortality, and showing us our everlasting life. Jesus said, "every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” (B20) Again, it is not enough for us to have an abstract or theoretical idea of overcoming the “shadow of death." Christ Jesus gave us practical demonstrations of how we can shine the light of Truth on the “shadow” of death. He raised the dead by understanding the light of Christ—Christ is our awareness of the presence of Divine Love, the presence of our Shepherd. (B21) Click for Online version of CC insights on raising the dead.]

Jesus’ teaching wouldn’t make sense if was only true 2000 years ago, in a specific time, and for specific people. His message was that the Christ-light is available to all of us, anywhere that we are. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.” (S19)

The “valley of the shadow of death” is the belief in a start and a stop to life, which may seem dark and scary when we feel like we’re immersed in it, but the Christ-light shines bright, showing us that there is not a start and a stop, but rather never-ending joy. It is as if we seem to be stuck looking at the world through a cylindrical tube that only lets us see a limited view of what’s all around us. But Christ Jesus did not have limited vision. He saw the whole view, the Christ-view. And his purpose was to take the limits off of our vision so we too could see the whole view. The whole view, the spiritual view is revealed by the light of Christ, our awareness of the presence of Divine Love, our awareness of our Shepherd in the midst of us. Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Though the way is dark in mortal sense, divine Life and Love illumine it, destroy the unrest of mortal thought, the fear of death, and the supposed reality of error. Christian Science, contradicting sense, maketh the valley to bud and blossom as the rose.” (S24) She instructs us to "Hold perpetually this thought, — that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being.” (S25)

It is the Christ-light that enables us to see that the “shadow of death” cannot touch us.

This section reminds us to hold perpetually the thought that, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for [LOVE] is with me; [LOVE'S] rod and [LOVE'S] staff they comfort me.” (S23)

Section 5: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

It probably won’t surprise you that section 5 includes the final verses of the 23rd Psalm. Throughout the Bible, prophets describe God as a shepherd, promising that God "shall feed his flock like a shepherd.” (B22) And we can remember that our Shepherd also wants us to have fun. The Shepherd tells us to "be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create” Rejoicing is not just an add-on, it is part of the Shepherd-and-sheep relationship. We need to take joy more seriously as a part of our Shepherd’s care….our relationship with our Shepherd is fun. We can "sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.”

We can "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad” (B24) Here’s another sheep video to remind us that even adult sheep have fun—this one shows sheep playing in the snow:

It would be uninspired for us to think of the 23rd Psalm as solemn or sad. The 23rd Psalm is a joyful prayer and promise of our Divine Shepherd’s comforting and fun presence. Remember that our Shepherd is in the midst of us, singing with joy! (B1) With our Shepherd, we are carefree and strong, where we belong.

Mary Baker Eddy reminds us that our Shepherd is good, is Love, and we cannot go anywhere without our Shepherd being right beside us. We cannot go beyond our Shepherd’s care. She writes, 'God is Love.' More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.” (S26) She explains that our Shepherd constantly meets our needs: "Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love — be it song, sermon, or Science — blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ's table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.” (B27)

It is true, our Shepherd provides for our every need, including joy. We can affirm for ourselves that "[LOVE] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: [LOVE] anointeth my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [LOVE] for ever.”

The 23rd Psalm has it all. It promises complete freedom from any “shadow” that might try to creep into our lives. It is true. It is joyful. It is comforting. It is strong. It meets our needs. It is enough. Absolutely, "The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!” (B29)


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