For a whole year, I have wanted to write you about "The Song of Our Syrian Guest," which is really a story about our Shepherd Psalm. No doubt many of you have read it, and perhaps have a copy in your possession. If you do, please bear with me while I tell the others about it. It's just a little book - of 28 pages, including the title page - but like a precious gem. Its author William Allen Knight, sent it forth on wings and a prayer in 1904. So great has been the response that after forty years, he had its sixth edition printed in 1945. Faduel Moghabghab, the courtly Syrian with the lustrous dark eyes, the winsome mind, the spiritual culture and innate refinement was a guest in the home of Rev. Wright, his wife and two little daughters. Over the teacups that evening he told the family tales of his Syrian shepherd country. In his youth there came to him "that sweetest religious song ever written - the Twenty-Third Psalm." I am tempted to go into detail over this guest's winsome manner in explaining to the children, but I must give only the high points - the things that I never understood about the 23rd Psalm. Maybe this review will help you, too. I hope so. For the full story go to your library. I am sending a copy there.
Just a word about, "He leadeth me beside the still waters." That word 'still' is very important, for sheep are afraid of noisy rivulets and rushing waters. A good shepherd walls up a leaping stream with a little dam or he searches out the quiet spring, or he draws the water into a trough. The sheep trust the good shepherd implicitly. "He restoreth my soul." 'Soul' means the life or one's self in the Hebrew writings. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." The beautiful theme of shepherd life is still with us. The Hebrew word for table means 'something spread out'. In olden times in that country the 'table' was just what you see among the Arabs today, only a piece of skin or a mat or a cloth spread on the ground. The 'enemies' may be poisonous grass, snakes hiding in their holes or in molehills, jackals, wolves, hyenas, panthers. But what about, "Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over"? The psalm closes with the last scene of the day. The shepherd stands at the door of the sheepfold and the 'rodding of the sheep' takes place. The shepherd turns his body to let the sheep pass; he is the door, as Christ said of himself. With his rod he holds back the sheep while he looks over each one as it passes into the fold.
His horn is filled with olive oil and he has cedar tar, to anoint a bruised knee or a scratched side. And then comes a sheep that is not bruised but simply exhausted from the long trek. He bathes its head and face with the refreshing olive oil; then he takes a large, two-handled cup and dips it brimming full from the water he has brought for that purpose. He lets the weary sheep drink. Oh, it's a beautiful word picture all the way through. I believe it will give you a new appreciation of our greatest psalm.
In the epilogue of this story the author passes on a new and wonderful thought about the choice of pronouns as our shepherd Psalm proceeds. Another minister gave that in a sermon in a village church. Look for those pronouns! If you want the little booklet for your very own, you may secure it from The Pilgrim Press, Chicago or Boston, price 35c. I assure you that your soul will find a new peace as you read it.
Florence B. Taylor
P.S. I would like to correct a typographical error in the last 'BY-WAYS' (due, no doubt, to my poor penmanship.) I wrote, "Hate is the weapon of the DEFEATED." It came out in print 'departed'.
Next - 3/15/49 - Recovering from the Flu
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