A Shepherd’s Song: Psalm 23 and the Shepherd Metaphor in Jewish Thought
by Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel
Reviewed by Association of Jewish Libraries, November/December 2014
The image of the shepherd is a recurring theme in sacred Jewish texts. Especially familiar to Jews and Christians is the 23rd Psalm, the main theme of this book, which begins “The Lord is my shepherd.” Two beloved biblical figures were shepherds: David and Moses. They impressed God by the kindness and concern they showed to their sheep. The author writes: “Being compassionate toward the weak and frail are necessary requisites for eventually becoming a true spiritual leader.”
While the chapters of the book explaining the passages in the 23rd Psalm are highly recommended, the book deals with other topics around this theme, such as the metaphor of the shepherd in Christian and Jewish beliefs, and the meaning and efficacy of prayer. If the reader wants a more concise explanation of the 23rd Psalm, they can read The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm by Harold S. Kushner. Samuel’s work, however, is recommended for anyone who wants to delve into a deeper understanding of the nature and meaning of prayer and the reading of sacred text. A Shepherd’s Song is written for an inter-faith audience; it includes an index and notes.