Messages from Pastor Raddatz

April 25, 2021 Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX 

Other texts for the day: Acts 4:1-12, 1 John 3:16-24 and John 10:11-18

Good Lord, Shepherd Me!

Psalm 23

Dear People of God,

            The first prayer that you may have learned was the Lord’s prayer.  Right next to that might be Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd.  It is read at many funeral services, mostly in my experience, in the King James Version.   It carries the impact of God’s leadership, guidance and supply.

            Today is Good Shepherd Sunday.  I would like us to take a brief look at why this poetic description of God is just as important today as it has been in the past.

HISTORY of the image of shepherd as a leader

     Rev. Professor James Luther Mays comments on this verse and meaning of Shepherd (emphases my own):

“In the ancient Near East, the role and title of shepherd were used for leaders as a designation of their relation to the people in their charge. As a title, “shepherd” came to have specific royal connotation. Gods and kings were called the shepherd of their people. Both are described and portrayed with mace (rod) and shepherd’s crook (staff) as symbol of office. (see my photo above and verse 4-Pr. S.) In narrative, song, and prophecy the LORD is called the shepherd of Israel, his flock (Gen. 49:24; PS. 28:9; 74:1; 95:7; 100:3; Jer. 31:10; Micah7:14). The LORD made David his under shepherd (Ps. 78:70-72), and the kings of Israel were judged as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; 49:20; Micah 5:4). The title had special associations with the LORD’S leading and protecting in the wilderness (PS. 77:20; 78:52-53; 80:1) and in the return from the exile (Isa. 40:11; 49:9-10).

To say “The LORD is my shepherd” invokes all the richness of this theological and political background as well as the pastoral. The metaphor is not restricted to associations with what actual shepherds did; it is informed by what the LORD has done and what kings were supposed to do.


Just as the world glories in the political victories and the pomp and circumstance of an earthly leader, the Christian glories mainly in The Lord.

The first sentence of the Psalm is a metaphor, and it is an absolute equivalency:  The LORD = my Shepherd. This is the theme sentence of the entire Psalm, “…these words are brief but impressive and apt. The world glories and trusts in honor, power, riches, and the favor of men. Our psalm, however, glories in none of these, for they are all uncertain and perishable. It says briefly, “The LORD is my shepherd.” (Luther’s Works, Volume 12, selected Psalms I).

            This is an extremely important Psalm now, because after a year of fighting the Covid pandemic, we are familiar with the Psalmist’s phrase of “THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH”.  The daily reminders of those affected and those who have perished due to the virus can be overwhelming.  Still, God’s rod and staff, his defending and his guiding, we fear no evil.

            The VALUE of the Lord is Shepherd” perspective is priceless.   God’s word reminds us that there are times when God allows trouble to come our way, but he will never leave us and will always guide us.  

     Poetry and literature help us understand this: I was introduced to an interesting book this last week.  It is called The Boy, The Mole, the Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy.  The Boy is lonely, the Mole is greedy for cake, the fox is mainly silent and wary because he has been hurt by life.  The horse is the biggest thing they have every encountered, and also the gentlest.  All are different and all have weaknesses.  The horse says, “The truth is everyone winging it.” Just to give you a sample on the help of good literature.  Just one page says, “I’m so small, said the mole.  “Yes,” said the boy, “but you make a huge difference.”  “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Kind” said the boy.

            We have a leader who describes “kind” in the way of the cross.  He lays down his life for the sheep…and he takes it up again.  Jesus sacrificed himself for us.  He was beaten for our sins.  By his stripes we are healed.  Through the blood of Jesus we are cleansed of all of our sins.  He also conquered the grave and the tomb.  Just as he has risen from the dead we will rise again on the last day when Jesus returns.

            Meanwhile, he sets a banquet of the before any of your accusers. Your cup overflows with his blessings.  Goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

            How do we continue as one of God’s sheep?  Follow him.  It’s like a new puppy dog who visited our house last week.  Our Son’s family visited with their new dog.  Our old dog had to teach this new dog something.  The young puppy was not sure about going out in our backyard.  So when we opened the door, our old dog went ahead of him and the young puppy followed him outside.  

            In the same way, there are things in life that can cause us anxiety, but Jesus walks ahead of us and says just follow me.

He will always lead and may we always follow.

Let’s follow Jesus together,

Pastor John Raddatz


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

Good Friday, April 10, 2020

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020