THE KING OF LOVE MY SHEPHERD IS
Henry W. Baker, 1821–1877
For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. (Psalm 95:7)
The beloved words of Psalm 23 have undoubtedly provided greater comfort and encouragement to God’s people through the years than any other portion of Scripture. In times of deep need, how eloquently these tender words from the psalmist David minister to our wounded spirits.
This psalm has also formed the textual basis for more sacred music than any other scriptural setting. But to many devout Christians the best-loved hymn based on Psalm 23 is this paraphrase by an English musician, Sir Henry Baker. In this text Baker skillfully combines thoughts of King David with lessons from the New Testament.
For example, the words from the third stanza are based on the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:5. The fourth stanza includes the phrase “Thy cross before to guide me.” Here the shepherd is identified as Christ by the inclusion of the cross symbolism.
Sir Henry William Baker is highly regarded by students of hymnody for his work as the editor-in-chief of one of the most monumental hymnals ever published, Hymns, Ancient and Modern, a book which sold more than 60 million copies after it was published in 1861.
See how these words can direct you again to the love of the Good Shepherd.
The King of Love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever. Where streams of living water flow my ransomed soul He leadeth, and where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love He sought me, and on His shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me. In death’s dark vale I fear no ill with Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still, Thy cross before to guide me. Thou spread’st a table in my sight; Thine unction grace bestoweth; and O what transport of delight from Thy pure chalice floweth!
And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never: Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise within Thy house for ever!
Psalm 23; John 10:9; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Peter 2:25