Parents enjoy tucking their children into bed when they are little. Children love to be tucked in—most of the time. A bedtime routine comes with the tucking in. When my brother and I were growing up, our routine was to get our pajamas on and call Mom when we were ready. Then we would kneel beside the bed to pray.
When my wife, Melinda, and I became parents, we needed to start a bedtime routine for our daughter, Erika. Melinda spent time reading Bible stories and saying a prayer. Then it was my turn. I would sit on the side of the bed and sing a hymn and pray with Erika.
As Erika grew older, story time with Mom turned into Erika reading the biblical accounts, chatting, and praying. My time also turned into chatting, singing, and then praying.
I tried many songs or hymns with Erika but then thought of using just one to help ingrain it into her memory. I had sung “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (Christian Worship 1993 375) many times, but I fell in love with it as I tucked Erika in bed. This hymn is based on Psalm 23, which gives us the beautiful picture of Jesus as our Shepherd. He is the Shepherd who meets all our needs for sustenance, protection, and guidance and loves us so much that he was willing to die for us.
The more I sang it to Erika, the more I realized that this hymn was also for me in my role as a father and husband. Jesus also is my Shepherd through the day. After a challenging day, this hymn became a comforting way to slow down and bring the day to a close.
A few verses hit home daily:
The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness fails me never;
I nothing lack if I am his,
And he is mine forever. (375:1)
Everything that we need—food, clothing, house, spouse, child, work, health, protection, transportation, time to rest and play—is all provided for us by the King of love. These gifts are the result of his goodness, not because we have earned or deserved any of it.
Sadly, at times having everything we need leads to complacency, and we start taking these gifts for granted. We can become bored and look for excitement in all the wrong places. We sin and wander away from the King who loves us. He comes after us through a brother or sister in Christ, a pastor or a spouse who reminds us that we are a redeemed child of the King of love. He wraps his arms around us and brings us back to the fold: redeemed, restored, and forgiven.
And I sing,
Confused and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me
And on his shoulder gently laid
And home, rejoicing, brought me. (375:3)
We continue our daily walk through this life. We walk with the confidence of sheep being led by the Shepherd. As each day winds down, the King of love, our Shepherd, leads us to a peaceful night’s rest, trusting that we will sing our praises to him eternally.
And so through all the length of days
Your goodness fails me never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing your praise
Within your house forever! (375:6)
Author: Snowden Sims
Volume 108, Number 10
Issue: October 2021