Monthly Archives: October 2016

Teaching the Ten Commandments

Understanding the Ten Commandments is crucial to the practice of Christian Science. That is why they are included in the foundational lessons of the Sunday School pupils. I believe they should also be a continual part of the study and daily practice of all students of Christian Science, no matter their age or experience.

Most of my research and study of the Ten Commandments is summarized in my manual First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments. That book is for parents to share with their children, and includes 120 ready-made daily lessons for them to read and use together.

The following is supplemental information to help with teaching your children or Sunday School pupils, that appeared on my web site supporting my books on the First Lessons when they were first published:

INTRODUCING THE COMMANDMENTS TO LITTLE CHILDREN:

If you’re just starting to teach the Bible to your own very young children, make sure they first understand the concept of God.   Before starting to teach the Ten Commandments separately, the children should be told the story of Moses and the Exodus of the Children of Israel. Also, you need to make sure the children understand the concept of rules and commands, and why they are useful to us.

To teach them about Moses, I recommend getting a good children’s Bible story book. You can also try telling the story of Moses in your own words directly from the Bible.  To introduce a discussion of Moses, you might ask your child if they know the story of the day they were born. (Hopefully it is a sweet story). After discussing the events surrounding their first meeting with their earthly family, and you have their attention, you can tell them about a baby named Moses, who had a very exciting adventure floating down a river after he was born. He was found by an Egyptian princess and raised in the royal household! If they are ready to listen, go back and tell them about the sad times in Egypt for the Hebrew people, and why it was important for God to send someone special to help them escape from the terrible situation they were in. That morally courageous person was Moses. He represents the same moral courage that we all need in order to escape the bondage of sin. Then, when they understand how important Moses was, go back and tell the story in detail, perhaps using the Bible storybook.

Now, it may take a few days worth of story telling to get to the part where Moses receives the Ten Commandments. But I feel it is important that they relate Moses to  the Ten Commandments, and see the courage and bravery he needed in order to obey God, the Great I Am. They need to see the special relationship Moses had with God.

The children’s movie, The Prince of Egypt tells the story of Moses in the form of an animated musical. It stops after the Red Sea event, but does have a quick epilogue showing Moses coming down a mountain with the stone tablets. If your kids watch this to learn the story of Moses, you will need to explain to them that the movie makers add things to the film that did not actually happen in real life. But the movie will give the kids a flavor of the times, the locale, and the basic events and situation of Mose’s life.

Before delving into the actual Ten Commandments, go over the concept of rules with your children, and why they are important in society. If they have a favorite game, have fun for a while discussing what might happen if everybody changed the rules and no one was playing with the same rules. Chaos! Unhappiness. Frustration. Or, ask them what would happen if one person in the game did not want to obey the rules, or cheated. How would that make the others feel?  Is it fair? Does it bring true happiness to the one who cheated to win?

You can also take the child to a place where you can observe an intersection of roads for a while, one which has either stop signs or a traffic signal. Discuss why the signs are there, and what might happen if one or more of the signs were removed; what might happen if someone ignored or did not see the signs? Explain that the signs can keep everyone safe, if obeyed. They keep the cars from running into each other, and give everyone a fair chance at moving through the intersection. The traffic signals are a form of love, and we should be grateful for their presence. Disobeying or ignoring traffic signals is a form of selfishness and ingratitude, and can be harmful.

When you are sure your children understand the reasons for rules, you can talk to them about God’s rules and commands. Although the Ten Commandments were given to the Hebrews thousands of years ago, they are still useful to us today. Many of these Commandments are the basis of some of the laws of our land, such as the laws against stealing and killing, and telling lies about others. But, because the Commandments are from God, they also have a spiritual meaning that can help us in our spiritual and moral growth.

The lessons on the Ten Commandments should not be a one-time event. We need to remind our children as often as we can, that these rules were given to us by God to keep us from harm, until we have awakened to our true spiritual nature. The “Devil,” or the false beliefs of mortal mind which hate the Christ, Truth, would want us to go to sleep and forget the rules of God. We must stay awake and not let ourselves be mesmerized by the evil beliefs which would tempt us to break the Ten Commandments. Our job is to glorify God on earth, or rather, to let God shine through us, and prove that He is all-powerful. He is our Father-Mother, and we honor Him by being obedient.

The essay, “Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments,” is something I prepared in response to current events (Fall 2003), and includes summaries of ways to practice each of the Commandments.

Future posts will have essays written on most of the Commandments to be used to supplement my books on the First Lessons.  See either the Ten Commandments page or Essays and More.

WHAT MRS. EDDY WRITES ABOUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

“If I ever wear out from serving students, it shall be in the effort to help them obey
the Ten Commandments and imbibe the spirit of Christ’s Beatitudes.”  (Mis. 303)

“Christian Science begins with the First Commandment of the Hebrew Decalogue,
‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'”  (Mis. 21)

“The lecturer, teacher, or healer who is indeed a Christian Scientist, . . . keeps
unbroken the Ten Commandments, and practices Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.”
(Rud. 11)

“Accept my counsel and teachings only as they include the spirit and the letter of the
Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the teachings and example of Christ Jesus.”
(My. 129)

“Corporeal sense defrauds and lies; it breaks all the commands of the Mosaic
Decalogue to meet its own demands.  How then can this sense be the God-given
channel to man of divine blessings or understanding?” (S&H 489)

“Teachers must conform strictly to the rules of divine Science announced in the Bible
and their textbook, ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.’  They must
themselves practice, and teach others to practise, the Hebrew Decalogue, the Sermon
on the Mount, and the understanding and enunciation of these according to Christ.”
(Mis. 114)

“Feasting the senses, gratification of appetite and passion, have no warrant in the
gospel or the Decalogue.”  (Ret. 65)

“In my public works I lay bare the ability, in belief, of evil to break the Decalogue,
— to murder, steal, commit adultery, and so on.  Those who deny my wisdom or right
to expose error, are either willing participants in wrong, afraid of its supposed
power, or ignorant of it.”  (Mis. 335)

“Obedience to these [Ten] commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and
length of days.”  (Mis. 66)

“MOSES.  A corporeal mortal; moral courage; a type of moral law and the demonstration thereof; the proof that, without the gospel, — the union of justice and affection, — there is something spiritually lacking, since justice demands penalties under the law.”  (S&H 592)

“Jesus said, ‘I came not to destroy the law,’ — the divine requirements typified in the
law of Moses, — ‘but to fulfil it’ in righteousness, by Truth’s destroying error.  No
greater type of divine Love can be presented than effecting so glorious a purpose. . . .
It is impossible to be a Christian Scientist without apprehending the moral law so
clearly that, for conscience’ sake, one will either abandon his claim to even a
knowledge of this Science, or else make the claim valid.  All Science is divine.
Then, to be Science, it must produce physical and moral harmony.”  (Mis. 261)

“The thunder of Sinai and the Sermon on the Mount are pursuing and will
overtake the ages, rebuking in their course all error and proclaiming the kingdom
of heaven on earth.  Truth is revealed.  It needs only to be practiced.”  (S&H 174)

“‘God is Love.’  This absolute definition of Deity is the theme for time and for
eternity; it is iterated in the law of God, reiterated in the gospel of Christ, voiced
in the thunder of Sinai, and breathed in the Sermon on the Mount.”  (’02 5)

“The divine Principle of healing is proved in the personal experience of any
sincere seeker of Truth. . . . No intellectual proficiency is requisite in the learner,
but sound morals are most desirable.”  (S&H x.)

“I am asked, ‘Is there a hell?’  Yes, there is a hell for all who persist in breaking
the Golden Rule or in disobeying the commandments of God.”  (My. 160)

Copyright 2003, 2016 Vicki Jones Cole

See Also:

Introduction to the Ten Commandments

About this blog and book “First Lessons in Christian Science”

 

 

 

 

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Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments

“Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments” by Vicki Cole
[Originally published 2009 on website First Lessons in Christian Science]

As I write this, a certain 5,300 pound granite monument has been in the news. From what I could tell in the many photos and videos of the monument, it was very beautiful. It had engraved on it a precious message: the Ten Commandments. I empathized with all the people who gathered to protest the removal of this monument from the Alabama Judicial Building where it had been on display. In spite of their efforts at non-violent civil protest and prayer, the protesters could only watch helplessly as the monument was removed by order of a federal court.

We should not be discouraged one way or the other. After all, there are more enduring and practical ways to honor and spread abroad the word of God found in the Ten Commandments, without breaching that extremely important wall of separation between church and state.

Did not Jesus tell us, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”? (John 14:15) Most of us would agree that Jesus is telling us to keep these commandments in our hearts and minds and to obey them. This is what is needed.

I am reminded of a moment in the Old Testament where a fellow tried to help God by steadying the ark that contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments (See II Samuel 6:6-7 or I Chronicles 13:9-10). When Uzza noticed that the oxen carrying the ark of the covenant was stumbling, he decided to put forth his own hand to stop the ark from falling, rather than trusting God to protect the ark in His way. It seems this lack of trust was not a small matter, for Uzza instantly died beside the ark.

To me, one meaning of that story of Uzza might be that the revelation of Truth to the world is being unfolded and protected in God’s own way. It always has been. Our job is to be obedient to that revelation, to live it, and share it with others who are ready for the message. But we need to act with humility under God’s direction, rather than pushing forward willfully on tasks that have not been given to us. Sometimes God’s mission for us will include steadfast obedience and action in the face of opposition. But merely being stubborn, or trying to act on God’s behalf, if we don’t think He will be fast enough, or wise enough, to do what is right at the right time, as Uzza seems to have done, is not usually the best route. How would we know the difference? Through daily prayer and humble communion with our Father-Mother God. Through understanding God as Principle, and how He governs all creation.

The events in Alabama, for all we know, may have helped to bring into focus the need to analyze what the Ten Commandments mean to all of us. Just because the folks failed to persuade the courts to keep the granite monument in the public display area, doesn’t mean that the hand of God was not there steadying the ark in His own way! Perhaps it is time for us to consider that it is up to each individual to be a monument to the Ten Commandments. One synonym of the term “monument” is “exemplar.” An exemplar is a person or thing regarded as worthy of imitation, a model, or pattern. To me, a person making his or her life a living monument to the Ten Commandments would be far more persuasive than a piece of stone.

When you think of it, wouldn’t paying homage to a granite monument — even though it is carved with the Word of God — be disobedient to the Second Commandment? That Commandment tells us not to make any graven image. God is be worshipped in spirit as Spirit. He does not need us to make carvings and statues to make His presence and power known. God is not in these things. God is infinite Spirit and Mind, as Christian Science teaches. He is not localized in a thing, a building, a ritual, or an engraving of His message.

This web site is devoted to the “first lessons” that are taught to young or beginning students of Christian Science: the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the Lord’s Prayer. I am posting essays and lessons on each of the Commandments and Beatitudes, as I get the time. These essays have many ideas for those who wish to “carve” their own “Living Monument” to the Ten Commandments. Below, I have summarized themes that are included elsewhere on this web site, or in my book on the Ten Commandments.

Bear in mind that I’m not sharing these ideas from a pedestal of personal perfection, but from my own “prodigal daughter” experience as a young woman. Even though I was taught these lessons in Sunday School as a child, I’ve had to learn the hard way the value of obedience to these laws of God. Please accept these lessons as a gift. They are based on the Bible and Christian Science, as taught by Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. We can ponder these ideas together, and then put them on “public display.” We can let our Living Monuments inspire others who may pass our way.

FIRST COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Do others see that you put God first in your life? Do you truly know and behave as if God is the only power, supreme over all beliefs in the power of evil, sin, hate, or materiality? Do you recognize that God is the only Mind — the true source of wisdom or intelligence, or do you put your trust in your personal brain and abilities? Do you give God the credit for your talents, your health, your life? Anytime we believe there is a power or intelligence or life or truth or substance in anything besides God, who is infinite divine Mind and Spirit, then we are having “other gods.”

Are you fearful of other people or situations? Then you are giving those people and situations more power than ever-present divine Love. Are you giving in to physical and mental addictions? Then you are letting another god, or power, take control. Recognize there is no pleasure in anything other than spiritual good, and that good is more powerful than evil.

To be a Living Monument to the First Commandment, we must refuse to give power to anything, and that means anything, that is not of God and His spiritual nature. We express this in a life devoted to spirituality, rather than materiality.

SECOND COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.”

How often do you let a disturbing or sensational image from the television or a movie
mesmerize you long after you have watched the original scene? You are letting these
images created by the five physical senses engrave themselves upon your thinking. These engraven images then take on a hypnotic power to influence you, whether you realize it or not. This happens over and over again in our daily lives. Certain human events convey impressions that become more real and powerful to us than the sweet whisperings of God’s angel messages which would seek to purify us.

Whenever we allow the aggressive mental suggestions of the five physical senses, or what the Bible calls “the carnal mind,” to govern our thinking, we have disobeyed the Second Commandment by creating an idol to worship. We might worship a beautiful physique, or take offense at one not-so-beautiful; either way we are letting ourselves create idols to worship or fear.

Another way to break this Commandment is by letting religious icons or rituals stand in place of a more spiritual worship of God. We can become Living Monuments to the Second Commandment by taking the time to reevaluate what we need for our spiritual growth and our methods for worshipping God. In the Bible, Jesus summarizes it this way: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

THIRD COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

This is not just a law against “swearing.” It is about hypocrisy — especially using God’s name in an attempt to hide what is otherwise a vain, empty, or fruitless commitment to the truth. We want our lives to be ones of integrity, honesty, sincerity. In my book on teaching the Ten Commandments to children, I offer an explanation of the Third Commandment for the very young, which I think will be meaningful to grown-ups, too:

“‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain’ means that we should not use God’s name as if it had magical powers, for good or bad, just by being spoken. For instance, it is wrong to call out the name of God if you are angry at something or someone. That is called ‘swearing’ or ‘cursing,’ and it not only dishonors God, it is also unloving and impolite to others. We do not use God’s name lightly or jokingly. We do not speak certain favorite words about Him over and over again, thinking that just saying the words will help us or heal us. Our goal is to have what we think, what we feel, what we say, and what we do, all flow from the same truth.” (First Lessons, Volume One: The Ten Commandments, pg. 23)

We can start carving our Living Monument to the Third Commandment by striving to speak of God only when we are ready to speak from our heart, and to appreciate the ideal of a life lived with integrity, helping and expecting others to live up to that ideal, as well as setting a good example ourselves.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Do you ever take time to get off the treadmill of your daily routine and activities, to refresh yourself? Do you seek quiet time alone or with your family to pray or simply think about God during the week? This Commandment is not just about going to church on a regular basis, although that is a fine commitment that provides the discipline we may need, to pause and hand our lives over to God. The “sabbath” is not a certain day on a calendar, but can be any time that we set aside time to pray to God, to listen to Him, or to render service to Him and our fellow man.

The spirit of this Commandment, it seems to me, requires a heart willing to do God’s work — to earn a sabbath rest — and then be willing to set aside that struggle, to find refuge in God’s kingdom: the consciousness of the presence of heaven on earth that constitutes true harmony and happiness.

To become a Living Monument to the Fourth Commandment means more than being a regular church-goer; it means being a regular God-goer. We must not leave Him out of our busy lives, but set aside as sacred (that’s what “holy” means) our special quiet moments of communion with our Father-Mother God. This can be done anywhere at any time. It does not require a special building or a set of physical rituals. You can take your church with you wherever you go. Mary Baker Eddy defines this kind of church as follows: “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.” (S&H, pg. 583)

FIFTH COMMANDMENT: “Honour thy father and thy mother.”

This is the only commandment with a promise. The full version reads: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” We are promised a long life. That is an interesting benefit, when you consider that the original Commandment was meant to warn families not to abandon their elderly parents in their old age, but to care for them. There was a habit of leaving the old and decrepit out in the wilderness to be eaten of the wild beasts. From this we learn that we are never too old to show respect to our parents. As children of any age, we must be grateful for all they do for us, or have done for us. It is true that some parents do not seem to deserve respect, but this Commandment at least should prod us to do the best we can to overlook their faults and be forgiving.

This Fifth Commandment is also one that can be seen as referring to God. It comes after the first four Commandments, which are about our relationship with God, and before the last five, which seem more to do with our relationship to our fellow man. In Christian Science, we are taught that God is our only real Father and Mother, the only Cause and Creator. It is to God, Spirit, that we owe our honor and respect. It is God whose commands we obey. It is to God we give thanks. That is not to say we use this as an excuse not to honor our earthly parents — we are expected to do both!  A loving heart devoted to God will honor all creation.

So, to become a Living Monument to the Fifth Commandment, pay attention to how you treat and think about your parents; if you are a parent, work to deserve the honor and respect of your children; and give honor and gratitude to God, your true Maker, by obeying His commandments, seeking His guidance, and doing your duty by Him.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not kill.”

This is such a simple command of only a few words, and yet it is still not fully interpreted or understood by mankind. The early Hebrews, who were first given this command by Moses, believed it only referred to their fellow Hebrews; that they were still permitted to kill their enemies, slay animals for food, clothes, and sacrifice, and to punish those who broke the law. But that was merely their interpretation. Over the years, we have seen unspeakable murders and crimes committed in the name of “religion,” and yet God tells us: “Thou shalt not kill.” A close look at history and customs will show that man has evolved for the better in spite of all the crime and wars that plague us. We know it is wrong to take another human’s life out of personal hate. But we still are searching for those final practical solutions to issues such as
capital punishment, abortion, embryonic and medical research using fetuses or animals,
killing animals for food and clothing, etc.

In the meantime, there is still much each individual can do to strengthen the law behind this Sixth Commandment. We learn from Jesus that there is a more spiritual essence to this law when he said: “Ye have heard it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22)  This tells us that being angry with another is just as wrong as actually killing them. That is because anger is a form of hate, and hate kills. It is especially harmful to the one who hates.

It is vitally important for us to work on our Living Monument to the Sixth Commandment. We do this by daily watching our thoughts to challenge every angry or hateful thought; to develop an attitude of love by expressing patience, kindness, humility, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness. These Godlike qualities will destroy hate before it has a chance to destroy ourselves and others.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Usually when a person argues that the Ten Commandments are old-fashioned, out-of-date, or irrelevant, this is the Commandment they have in mind! Humans love to justify behavior they are not willing to change or discipline. But would God issue a command for His children that they would be unable to obey? A God who is Love would not. To me, this hints at the fact taught by Christian Science that man is the spiritual image and likeness of God. We are not mortals. We are not animals. We are pure, innocent, spiritual beings at one with our heavenly Parent.

This Commandment was meant as a protection to human families, as well as being a warning not to mix impurities into our naturally pure consciousness. Refraining from sex with someone not our marriage partner is one meaning of this law, but it also includes being faithful to God, as well. We should be true and faithful to our pure, spiritual nature. To do this we must try to maintain our innocence, to identify ourselves as God’s child, not as the offspring of mortals with animal instincts.

If we should slip and slide over this issue, we still have reason to commit to our purity once we realize the importance of this law. Our true identity forever remains pure, no matter what we, as humans, have done in the past. Our goal is to conform our present actions to this truth — “Go, and sin no more,” as Jesus once said. Otherwise, we will continue to suffer for our disobedience. We must not fool ourselves into thinking we can continue to commit adultery, with the self-justification that, in reality, we are spiritual and pure. That is hypocrisy and a poor foundation for our “monument.”

We can start building our Living Monument to the Seventh Commandment by supporting and loving all efforts to be morally clean and pure in thought, word, and action. Pay attention to the movies and television you watch, the music you listen to, the books and magazines you read. Are you polluting the atmosphere of your mind with mental poisons? Are you allowing your own children to watch entertainment too mature for their young minds to handle? These earthy images are toxic and may plant the seeds of adultery. Our children need protection. We all need to cherish and protect our innocence. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Never breathe an immoral atmosphere, unless in the attempt to purify it.” (S&H p. 452)

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not steal”

You may never have been tempted to steal anything, such as shoplifting at a store or
robbing a bank, but there are many activities you might never have considered to be forms of stealing. For instance, taking things secretly, or by trickery, or by bullying others, is a form of theft. Manipulating others to get what you want is stealing. If an action is right and just, then it should be done with openness and sincerity. If not, then at least know that you are disobeying the Eighth Commandment when you use less-than-honest measures to get your own way, or take what does not rightfully belong to you. Do you cheat on your taxes? That is stealing. Have you ever damaged a person’s reputation or good character by vicious or mindless gossip and innuendo? That is stealing. Have you broken this Commandment by stealing opportunities or positions that were meant for others? Have you ever broken in line in front of others who have been waiting? Stealing.

These actions may all sound petty, but to those who have learned that the Ten Commandments are universal laws that have consequences when broken, even in the smallest detail, they are all aspects of “stealing” from God, our “neighbors,” and ourselves.

To be a Living Monument to the Eighth Commandment, you must set an example for all to see, especially your children. Would children shoplift or steal, if they had never seen it done, or had parents who consistently upheld the standards indicated in the Ten Commandments? (Toddlers are exempted — they think everything is theirs for the taking!) Would children cheat at school — another form of stealing — if they realized that integrity is more important than the temporary success of a good grade? Have you ever called in sick to get a day off from work, even when you were perfectly healthy? Then why be surprised if your children pretend to be sick or tired in order to get out of school or chores?

Jesus explains why it is worthless to steal: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20) The spiritual truth behind this is that God has provided each of us with all we really need, even though we may be unaware of what we have. We have no reason to steal or manipulate people or situations, when we realize that God is Love, our Father-Mother, forever giving, giving, giving to all.

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.” (Miscellaneous Writings 307:1-5)

Be a Living Monument to the Eighth Commandment by radiating trust in God to provide for us all, in His own way and wisdom.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy  neighbour.”

Although this Commandment was originally a rule to prohibit false accusations in a court of law, the spirit of it would forbid any kind of lying. We know from other statements in the Bible that passing along false information about others was condemned. Here is one from Proverbs: “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Mary Baker Eddy explains that these actions are forbidden even in our thoughts: “‘Thou shalt not bear false witness;’ that is, thou shalt not utter a lie, either mentally or audibly, nor cause it to be thought. Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days.” (Miscellaneous Writings 67:13-17)

Now, who is our “neighbor”? Don’t waste your time hoping this is referring only to those people living in your community. It is a term referring to everyone– even yourself or your worst enemies. You should be wary of self-deception and you should be aware of how you speak of your enemies. To manipulate the facts about another, making suggestive accusations, and smearing the good reputation of another, is a form of “bearing false witness.” To tell lies about our competition, or our siblings, for example, hoping they would be punished, is breaking this Commandment.

Jesus told us to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” Would we want others to tell lies about us? Then we should not do it either, no matter how deserving they may seem to be. Mary Baker Eddy explains her standard on this: “I hate no one; and love others more than they can love me. As I now understand Christian Science, I would as soon harm myself as another; since by breaking Christ’s command, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,’ I should lose my hope of heaven.” (Miscellaneous Writings 311:18-22)

In ancient times, when the Ten Commandments were written, if anyone was found lying in court about another, the false accuser would be given the same punishment that would have gone to the person found guilty of the crime. There is spiritual truth to this. If we believe in the reality of sin and evil, such that we are willing to broadcast it as a fact for our neighbor or our enemies, then we will sooner or later suffer from our beliefs in the reality of sin and evil.

We can choose to be Living Monuments to the Ninth Commandment every day: we can choose not to gossip, or to believe in it; we can choose not to slander or libel another on purpose; we can refrain from harshly criticizing or judging others; we can seek the positive over the negative side of situations; we can choose love over fear and hate, no matter what the consequences may be for us; we can bear witness to our true spiritual nature, rather than giving in to the depressing self-talk of low self-esteem. Most of all, we can think and speak and share only the Truth — the spiritual reality of all things as God created them.

TENTH COMMANDMENT: “Thou shalt not covet.”

This Commandment is unique in that it is a law against “thinking” a certain way, rather than a law forbidding certain actions. This is a fit preparation for the teachings of Jesus and for the later teachings of Christian Science. Our thinking determines our experience. The Tenth Commandment asks us to control our thought so that our bodies are not used as tools of evil. To covet is to have a strong desire to possess something, usually something already owned by another. Similar forms of thinking include envy, lust, greed, jealousy, rivalry, passions, appetites, revenge. Jesus gave this warning: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)

Obedience to the Ninth Commandment is very important to the Christian Scientist. Mrs. Eddy writes: “Envy, evil thinking, evil speaking, covetousness, lust, hatred, malice, are always wrong, and will break the rule of Christian Science and prevent its demonstration.” (Miscellaneous Writings 19:1-4)

We must root out all forms of covetousness and envy as they come to us. Do you envy others for their physical attraction or athletic abilities? Do you lust for physical pleasure in all its myriad forms: sex, food, drink, drugs, pornography, and so forth? Do you want to be the center of attention, have a title or position that is admired, or own luxuries for the sake of showing them off or making a statement about your personal wealth or importance? These things are so far off the mark! Many who have achieved the ownership of great possessions, or those who have over-indulged in various physical pleasures and activities, can tell you that these things do not bring lasting happiness, satisfaction, or security.

To be a Living Monument to the Tenth Commandment, we must seek out what is worth having. We must look to the spiritual qualities of God for lasting substance. We must challenge the thoughts of envy and desire when they suggest themselves to us aggressively. Mrs. Eddy tells us, “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.” (Science and Health 4:3-5)

There are countless statements in her writings that urge us to turn our thoughts to spiritual reality, rather than materiality, to find peace and happiness. She writes: “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness.” (Message of 1902 17:22-25)

The Tenth Commandment was God’s way of turning our thoughts to Him and His gifts, rather than focusing our life and ambitions on the temporary images of the mortal dream. Obedience to the law against coveting in our thoughts is great practice for the Commandments of Jesus found in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. We exchange the law of the Old Testament — that protected us from harm until we knew
better — for the law of Love given by Jesus in the New Testament.

SCULPTING AND CARVING OUR LIVING MONUMENTS

As you may now see, there is such a grand opportunity available to us to share the power of the Ten Commandments in our own lives, that the lack of a public display on monuments or wall hangings may not be as important as some feel. While the desire to remind others of these laws of God is a good one, we can get to work right now on our own public and private display! In closing, Mary Baker Eddy has some thoughts about our tasks as spiritual “sculptors.” They are found in Science and Health under the marginal headings “Mental sculpture” and “Perfect models”:

“The sculptor turns from the marble to his model in order to perfect his conception. We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? Then you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms. Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your lifework, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models.

“To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love — the kingdom of heaven — reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear.

“Let us accept Science, relinquish all theories based on sense-testimony, give up imperfect models and illusive ideals; and so let us have one God, one Mind, and that one perfect, producing His own models of excellence.” (S&H 248:12-249:4)

Copyright 2003 Vicki Jones Cole

The 23rd Psalm – Commentaries – Part 3

THY ROD AND THY STAFF THEY COMFORT ME:

“With his ‘rod’ or stout club the shepherd beats off the foes of the sheep, and with his ‘staff’ he helps it through the dark and perilous defile. So in the midst of dangers these symbols of the shepherd’s might and affection banish fear: ‘they are my consolation.'” (IB, p. 127)

“Sometimes ‘rod’ and ‘staff’ are used interchangeably; the context determines which is intended. The simple shepherd’s rod was a stout club c. 3 ft. long, made sometimes of an oak sapling with a bulging joint forming a knob. The rod or club was sometimes tipped with flint or metal to beat wolves away from the flock. With his rod the shepherd guided timid animals over dangerous rocks or difficult wadis (stream beds). At night he ‘rodded’ the sheep, making each pass under his rod to count it.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, p. 619)

“The details of the imagery are somewhat alien to us. Our shepherds do not carry rods and staffs.
A shepherd’s crook, laid lightly on the back of a sheep showing tendencies to wander, is familiar enough. But a weapon of offense against marauding enemies is not a modern shepherd’s equipment. Yet something may be made of both the ‘rod’ and the ‘staff’ as we spiritualize the psalm. The staff is plain: it symbolizes all the gentle disciplines that keep us going. But the ‘rod’ also is recognizable. All that ejects evil from our minds is a weapon of offense — such as sudden disgust, particularly at ourselves when we realize that God’s alleged servant is behaving like a dog, perhaps disfiguring the divine image in someone else. The up-rush of wrathful feeling that makes a man cry ‘have at you’ to habits which are weakening him and spoiling his work — this too is the shepherd’s rod in action. All that the shepherd’s presence means in creating honest anger against evil in ourselves or in our world, from the tigers of lust to the little foxes of laziness, is hinted at in the rod.”

(IB, p. 127)

“The rod, in fact, was an extension of the owner’s own right arm. It stood as a symbol of his strength, his power, his authority in any serious situation. . . . If the shepherd saw a sheep wandering away from its own, or approaching poisonous weeds, or getting too close to danger of one sort or another, the club would go whistling through the air to send the wayward animal scurrying back to the bunch. . . . In caring for his sheep, the good shepherd, the careful manager, will from time to time make a careful examination of each individual sheep. As each animal comes out of the corral and through the gate, it is stopped by the shepherd’s outstretched rod. He opens the fleece with the rod; he runs his skillful hands over the body; he feels for any sign of trouble; he examines the sheep with care to see if all is well. This is a most searching process entailing every intimate detail. It is, too, a comfort to the sheep for only in this way can its hidden problems be laid bare before the shepherd.” (Keller)

“In a sense, the staff, more than any other item of his personal equipment, identifies the shepherd as a shepherd. No one in any other profession carries a shepherd’s staff. It is uniquely an instrument used for the care and management of sheep — and only sheep. It will not do for cattle, horses or hogs. It is designed, shaped and adapted especially to the needs of sheep. . . . The staff is essentially a symbol of the concern, the compassion that a shepherd has for his charges. No other single word can better describe its function on behalf of the flock that that it is for their ‘comfort.’ . . . Whereas the rod conveys the concept of authority, of power, of discipline, of defense against danger, the word ‘staff’ speaks of all that is long-suffering and kind. . . .The shepherd’s staff is normally a long, slender stick, often with a crook or hook on one end. It is selected with care by the owner; it is shaped, smoothed, and cut to best suit his own personal use.. . .The shepherd will use his staff to gently lift a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become parted. . . . The staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young or old, and draw them close to himself for an intimate examination. . . . The staff is also used for guiding sheep. . . . The tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal’s side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path.” (Keller)

“Sweet, indeed, are these uses of His rod! Well is it that the Shepherd of Israel passes all His flock under His rod into His fold; thereby numbering them, and giving them refuge at last from the elements of earth.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 8)

“The kindly shepherd of the East carries his lambs in his arms to the sheepcot, but the older sheep pass into the fold under his compelling rod. He who sees the door and turns away from it, is guilty, while innocence strayeth yearningly.” (Retrospection and Introspection, by Mary Baker Eddy,
p. 80)

“[Love’s] rod and [Love’s] staff they comfort me.” (S&H, p. 578)

THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES:

“In thinking about this statement, it is well to bear in mind that the sheep are approaching the high mountain country of the summer ranges. These are known as alplands or tablelands, so much sought after by sheepmen. . . . In some of the finest sheep country of the world, the high plateaux of the sheep ranges were always referred to as mesas — the Spanish word for ‘tables.’ Oddly enough, the African word for a table is also mesa, . . . the use of this word is not uncommon in referring to the high, flat-topped plateaux of the continent. . . .So it may be seen that what David referred to as a table was actually the entire high summer range. Though these mesas may have been remote and hard to reach, the energetic and aggressive sheep owner takes the time and trouble to ready them for the arrival of his flocks. . . .Early in the season, even before all the snow has melted . . . he will go ahead and make preliminary survey trips into this rough, wild country. He will look it over with great care, keeping ever in mind its best use for his flock during the coming season. Then just before the sheep arrive, he will make another expedition or two to prepare the tableland for them. He takes along a supply of salt and minerals to be distributed over the range at strategic spots for the benefit of the sheep during the summer. . . . He clears out water holes, springs and drinking places for his stock. . . . Another task the attentive shepherd takes on in the summer is to keep an eye out for predators. He will look for signs of wolves, coyotes, cougars and bears. If these raid or molest the sheep he will have to hunt them down or go to great pains to trap them so that his flock can rest in peace. . . . Often what actually happens is that these crafty ones are up on the rimrock watching every movement the sheep make, hoping for a chance to make a swift, sneaking attack that will stampede the sheep. . . . Only the alertness of the sheepman who tends his flock on the tableland in full view of possible enemies can prevent them from falling prey to attack. It is only his preparation for such an eventuality that can possibly save the sheep from being slaughtered and panicked by their predators.” (Keller)

“Again, Christian experience has deepened the conception. ‘Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies’ becomes a table spread in the midst of the pilgrimage, even when foes are massing to the attack. The verse has been declared to have been a favorite text in London at Communion services during World War II, when the bombing was at its peak; even in one instance when a part of the church was hit, while the service continued. In normal times it conveys the living thought of the table of strengthening set for our partaking at times when our private spiritual war is at its most bitter, suggesting that when we are finding the going hardest, we should at that very
time repair to the Lord’s table and receive at his hands. Our enemies slink away and become poor things when we resolutely sit down with our host.”
(IB, p. 128)

“The shepherd was able to ‘prepare tables’ in safe grassy spots, in the presence of the sheep’s hereditary enemies — venomous snakes, which bit the faces of unsuspecting ones. Hence the necessity of having their injured heads ‘anointed with oil’ or butter.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, p. 674)

“May our Father-Mother God, who in times past hath spread for us a table in the wilderness and ‘in the midst of our enemies,’ establish us in the most holy faith, plant our feet firmly on Truth, the rock of Christ, the ‘substance of things hoped for’ — and fill us with the life and understanding of God, and good will towards men.” (Christian Science versus Pantheism, by Mary Baker Eddy,
p. 14)

“[Love] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” (S&H, p. 578)

THOU ANOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL:

“‘Thou anointest my head with oil’ is not an image which means much to us; but in the ancient Near East it was a means of refreshment to weary travelers, and healing oils were sometimes rubbed into the fleece of sheep. An old version translates, ‘Thou hast my head with balm refreshed,’ and this gives the idea intended. The point to emphasize is that the shepherd of the soul goes the ‘second mile’ in giving all that is required for renewing power and providing comfort.” (IB, p. 128)

“In the terminology of the sheepman, ‘summer time is fly time.’ By this, reference is made to the hordes of insects that emerge with the advent of warm weather. . . . Sheep are especially troubled by the nose fly. . . . For relief from this agonizing annoyance, sheep will deliberately beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, or brush. . . In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself. . . . At the very first sign of flies among the flock, he will apply an antidote to their heads. . . What an incredible transformation this would make. Once the oil had been applied to the sheep’s head, there was an immediate change in behavior. The sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment. . . . But summertime for the sheep is . . . also ‘scab-time.’ Scab is an irritating and highly contagious disease common among sheep the world over. . . .The only effective antidote is to apply linseed oil, sulphur and other chemicals that can control this disease. . . . In Palestine the old remedy for this disease was olive oil mixed with sulphur and spices.” (Keller)

“OIL. Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration.” (S&H, p. 592)

“[Love] anointeth my head with oil;” (S&H, p. 578)

MY CUP RUNNETH OVER:

“Summer moves into autumn. . . . Soon the flocks will be driven from the alplands and tablelands. They will turn again toward the home ranch for the long, quiet winter season. . . . The sheep have respite now from flies, insects, and scab. No other season finds them so fit and well and strong. No wonder David wrote, ‘My cup runneth over.'” (Keller)

“The divine host has exceeded the bare requirements of hospitality. The meal assumes the proportions of a feast at which sweet-smelling unguents are poured on the head of the guest, and there is no lack of good things. ‘My cup overflows: Lit. ‘my cup is saturation.’ The psalmist has had enemies, but their plans against him have been frustrated because the Lord, in effect, has said, ‘this man is my friend.'” (IB, p. 130)

“An example of the ‘cup’ which ran over is the Well of the Star on the north outskirts of Bethlehem. It is a stone trough — a round section of Pilate’s stone conduit, in this instance–placed inside the well from which the shepherd dipped water to fill the ‘cup.’ (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, p. 674)

“Millions of unprejudiced minds — simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert — are waiting and watching for rest and drink. Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, and never fear the consequences.” (S&H, p. 570)

SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE:

[Note:  According to Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, the Hebrew word which is here translated as “goodness and mercy” is usually translated elsewhere as “steadfast love.” The
Interpreter’s Bible, a Commentary in Twelve Volumes
, states that this verse “suggests continued pilgrimage and shepherding.”]

“The past is a prophecy of the future: ‘Only goodness and kindness will pursue me.’ If he looks behind him, fearing lest enemies be upon him, he will see only these twin angels of God tracking him down.” (IB, p. 130)

“‘Surely’ in vs. 6 is a high religious word. Connect it with the Pauline phrase, ‘I am persuaded’
(Rom. 8:38). . . The writer has found that the guide leads wisely and leads well; wherefore he has confidence in the future. He is persuaded to stake his life on the goodness and mercy of the shepherd.”
(IB, p. 130)

“All the benefits enjoyed by a flock under skilled and loving management have been drawn in bold lines. Now all of this is summed up here by the Psalmist in one brave but simple statement: ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’! . . . It is worth reiterating at this point that sheep can, under mismanagement, be the most destructive livestock . . . they can ruin and ravage land almost beyond remedy. But in bold contrast they can, on the other hand, be the most beneficial of all livestock. . . . Their manure is the best balanced of any produced by domestic stock. When scattered efficiently over the pastures it proves of enormous benefit to the soil. The sheep’s habit of seeking the highest rise of ground on which to rest insures that the fertility from the rich low land is re-deposited on the less productive higher ground. No other livestock will consume as wide a variety of herbage. Sheep eat all sorts of weeds and other undesirable plants which might otherwise invade a field. In a few years a flock of well-managed sheep will clean up and restore a piece of ravaged land as no other creature can do. . . . In ancient literature sheep were referred to as ‘those of the golden hooves’– simply because they were regarded and esteemed so highly for their beneficial effect on the land. In my own experience as a sheep rancher I have, in just a few years, seen two derelict ranches restored to high productivity and usefulness. More than this, what appeared as depressing eyesores became beautiful, park-like properties of immense worth. . . . In other words, goodness and mercy had followed my flocks. They left behind them something worthwhile, productive, beautiful and beneficial to both themselves, others, and me.” (Keller)

“Should we comment too that there is nowhere any mention of the shepherd’s dogs? In our day they do a great deal of the shepherding of wandering sheep. Their skill is uncanny and has become proverbial; but only a countryman knows how high is their sense of honor. A sheep dog will finish a day exhausted almost to collapse, his feet wounded and sometimes bleeding, but not a single sheep will have been lost; all are enfolded. On that fact a poetic preacher of an older time fastened. He spoke in the vernacular, which added both force and tenderness to his words. ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ he cried, ‘aye, and more than that, he has twa fine collie dogs, Goodness and Mercy. With him before and them behind, even poor sinners like you and me can hope to win home at last.”
(IB, p. 130)

“Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love — the kingdom of heaven — reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear.” (S&H, p. 248)

AND I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOR EVER:

“The ‘dwelling in the house of the Lord’ reflects the return to the village after the summer grazing period, when families prepare to go up to the House of God, in mended gar-ments and new-made shoes to thank Him for His ‘goodness and loving kindness’ and to entreat Him to let these blessings follow the family forever.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, p. 674)

“His highest delight will be to continue as a guest in the house of his divine host. The picture of the tent melts into that of the temple. ‘For ever: Lit., ‘for length of days,’ i.e. ‘as long as I live.'” (IB 130)

“The reference to ‘the house of the Lord’ in v.6 may be a continuation of the figure of the host, and need not indicate a date after the building of the Temple.”  (Dummelow’s One Volume Bible Commentary, pg. 338)

“The word ‘house’ used here in the poem has a wider meaning that most people attach to it. Normally we speak of the house of the Lord as the sanctuary, church or meeting place of God’s people. In one sense David may have had this mind. And, of course, it is pleasant to think that one would always delight to be found in the Lord’s house. But actually, what is referred to by ‘house’ is the family or household or flock of the good shepherd. The sheep is so deeply satisfied with the flock to which it belongs, with the ownership of this particular shepherd, that it has no wish whatsoever to change. . . There is one other beautiful and final sense in which the psalmist was speaking as a sheep. It is found in the Amplified Old Testament, where the meaning of this last phrase is, ‘I will dwell in the presence of the Lord forever.’ . . . In our Christian lives and experience, the same idea and principle applies. For when all is said and done on the subject of a successful Christian walk, it can be summed up in one sentence: ‘Live ever aware of God’s presence.'” (Keller)

“The understanding, even in a degree, of the divine All-power destroys fear, and plants the feet in the true path, — the path which leads to the house built without hands ‘eternal in the heavens.'” (S&H, p. 454)

“The real house in which ‘we live, and move, and have our being’ is Spirit, God, the eternal harmony of infinite Soul. The enemy we confront would overthrow this sublime fortress, and it behooves us to defend our heritage.” (Pulpit and Press, p. 2)

“The letter of your work dies, as do all things material, but the spirit of it is immortal. Remember that a temple but foreshadows the idea of God, the ‘house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,’ while a silent, grand man or woman, healing sickness and destroying sin, builds that which reaches heaven. Only those men and women gain greatness who gain themselves in a complete subordination of self.” (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 194)

“And I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever.” (S&H, p. 578)

* * *
“SHEPHERD, SHOW ME”

One of the most beloved hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal is based upon a poem by Mary Baker Eddy, entitled “Feed My Sheep.” This poem explores the concept from the 23rd Psalm that God is our Shepherd. Little children love to sing it, and many have found healing or guidance through its comforting message:

FEED MY SHEEP

Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow, —
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.

Thou wilt bind the stubborn will,
Wound the callous breast,
Make self-righteousness be still,
Break earth’s stupid rest.
Strangers on a barren shore,
Lab’ring long and lone,
We would enter by the door,
And Thou know’st Thine own;

So, when day grows dark and cold,
Tear or triumph harms,
Lead Thy lambkins to the fold,
Take them in Thine arms;
Feed the hungry, heal the heart,
Till the morning’s beam;
White as wool, ere they depart,
Shepherd, wash them clean.

*********************

The 23rd Psalm – Commentaries – Part 2

The Twenty-third Psalm – Commentaries – Part Two

HE LEADETH ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS:

“The Psalmist . . . knew the ‘still waters,’ or wells, pools, quiet rivulets, or sheltered sand bars.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, p. 674)

“In the later literature there are several passages in which the Lord is spoken of as the shepherd of Israel, but the thought is most tenderly elaborated in Isaiah 49:10, ‘They shall not hunger; . . . he. . . shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.’ The psalmist turns this imagery to the illustration of God’s thought for him and, by inference, for every child of God. ‘Besides the still waters: Or ‘waters by resting places,’ a poetic inversion of ‘resting places by water,’ where in quietness and peace the sheep slakes its thirst and its strength is refreshed and revived. These blessings of food, water, and rest are the lot of the sheep because it is led in right paths. The good
shepherd guides the sheep on paths that lead right to the sources of life, peace, and happiness, and keeps it from straying into the wrong paths.”
(IB, p. 125-127)

“Although sheep thrive in dry, semi-arid country, they still require water. It will be noticed that here again the key or the clue to where water can be obtained lies with the shepherd. It is he who knows where the best drinking places are. . . . When sheep are thirsty, they become restless and set out in search of water to satisfy their thirst. If not led to the good water supplies of clean, pure water, they will often end up drinking from the polluted pot holes where they pick up . . . parasites . . . or other disease germs. . . . Water for sheep came from three main sources . . . dew on the grass . . . deep wells . . . or springs and streams. . . . Most people are not aware that sheep can go for months on end, especially if the weather is not too hot, without actually drinking, if there is heavy dew on the grass each morning. . . . The good shepherd makes sure that his sheep can be out and grazing on this dew drenched vegetation.” (Keller)

“Notice that the refreshing beside still waters comes before the severest part of the journey. The reserves of energy are first secured.” (IB, p. 127)

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

“RIVER. Channel of thought. When smooth and unobstructed, it typifies the course of Truth; but muddy, foaming, and dashing, it is a type of error.” (S&H 593)

“[Love] leadeth me beside the still waters.”
(S&H, p. 578)

HE RESTORETH MY SOUL:

“David was acquainted with the bitterness of feeling hopeless and without strength in himself. . . . Now there is an exact parallel to this in caring for sheep. Only those intimately acquainted with sheep and their habits understand the significance of a ‘cast’ sheep’ or a ‘cast down’ sheep. . . .This is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself. A ‘cast’ sheep is a very pathetic sight. Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success. Sometimes it will bleat a little for help, but generally it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration. . . . If the owner does not arrive on the scene within a reasonably short time, the sheep will die. . . . Again and again I would spend hours searching for a single sheep that was missing. . . As soon as I reached the cast ewe, my
very first impulse was to pick it up . . . I would hold her erect, rubbing her limbs to restore the circulation to her legs. When the sheep started to walk again, she often stumbled, staggered and collapsed. Little by little the sheep would regain its equilibrium. It would start to walk steadily and surely. By and by it would dash away to

 rejoin the others, set free from its fears and frustrations, given another chance to live a little longer. All of this pageantry is conveyed to my heart and mind when I repeat the simple statement, ‘He restoreth my soul.'” (Keller)

“The restored soul is expected to renew the pilgrimage. Life is to be a movement, not a stagnation. ‘Excelsior’ is always to be the device on our banners; green pastures and still waters afford no permanent dwelling. If we are content with them and nothing else, God may have to drive us forth. The new energy we have gained has to be used, always under his continued leading, along ‘straight paths’ — the highways, possibly the dusty highways, of duty.’ (IB, p. 125)

“Soul is Life, and being spiritual Life, never sins. Material sense is the so-called material life. Hence this lower sense sins and suffers, according to material belief, till divine understanding takes away this belief and restores Soul, or spiritual Life. ‘He restoreth my soul,’ says David.” (Unity of Good, by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 30)

“[Love] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]:” (S&H, p. 578)

HE LEADETH ME IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE:

“The ‘paths of righteousness’ were age-old sheep-walks.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary,674)

“The ‘paths of righteousness’ strictly are ‘straight’ or ‘direct’ paths. The journey is not haphazard. The paths lead somewhere: straight paths lead straight somewhere. The imagery requires that that somewhere should be the fold, which for the sheep is home. They have been awakened in the morning; they have been led to the mountainsides of pasturage, where necessarily they have been given rest for tired hoofs and weary limbs; and now it is eventide, and they must take the track again to reach the fold before nightfall. The essence of the clause is given if we translate, ‘He leadeth me by paths that run straight home for his name’s sake.’ Where would you be going at night, except home?” (IB, p. 125-126)

“The ability to throw a well-aimed stone was useful to head off a straying sheep, but on one occasion in 1947 a boy missed his aim, and the stone fell into a cave and resulted in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls!” (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, p. 904)

“Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes; pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites. . . . The greatest single safeguard which a shepherd has in handling his flock is to keep them on the move . . . they dare not be left on the same ground too long. They must be shifted from pasture to pasture periodically. This prevents overgrazing of the forage. It forestalls the reinfesta-tion of the sheep with internal parasites or disease, since the sheep move off the infested ground before these organisms complete their life cycles.” (Keller)

“‘For his name’s sake’ may mean ‘in order that his name may be exalted’ or, more probably, ‘because that is the kind of God he is.'” (Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, pg 269)

“‘For his name’s sake’: in consistency with the character which He has already made known.” (Dummelow’s One Volume Bible Commentary, p. 339)

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity, which are the landmarks of Science.” (S&H, p. 322)

“[Love] leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (S&H, p. 578)

YEA, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL: FOR THOU ART WITH ME:

“‘The valley of the shadow,’ which called for extra shepherding, was the deep rock-cleft wadi where serpents lurked.” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary of the Bible, p. 904)

“The reference in Ps. 23 to the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ may be simply figurative of a place of peril and loneliness, or, as Gunkel holds, the place through which the ancient Hebrew supposed the soul had to pass on the way to the underworld.” (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, p. 904)

“The sheep is also the object of the shepherd’s protecting care: ‘though I walk through a valley of dark shadows,’ where robbers and beasts of prey lurk, ‘I fear no evil.’ The scribal copyists pointed the word for ‘dark shadows’ to read ‘the shadow of death,’ thereby in the interest of interpretation spoiling the psalmist’s picture.” (IB, p. 127)

“The image of ‘the valley,’ in Christian hands, obviously goes beyond the original intention of the writer. The translation ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ is an inevitable Christian addition. . . . To those brought up on that version it is impossible to divorce the phrase from the idea of death; for it has brought comfort to too many in the actual experience of dying; too many have quoted it beside deathbeds. . . . So it is that for a great multitude of Christian folk the verse refers to the valley of death, first and last. Christian experience has, if you like, rewritten it. . . . Surely if the last thought is ‘thou art with me,’ the king of terrors will change his aspect. For the Shepherd is there — and he is friend and guide.” (IB, p. 128)

“The straight path is not always the easiest; round about you may wander in sunny glades, while the straight path is through the defile, a dark and dangerous way. Nevertheless it is the road, and the best road, to the place where you fain would be. To take easier journeys would mean that you would be overtaken by the night before the sheepfold could be reached. Wherefore the shepherd in his wisdom leads to the threatening valley; but he keeps close to the sheep, with his rod (his weapon of offense) and his staff (his weapon of guidance) ready, so that when darkness comes, the shepherd and his sheep are home. It is a lovely little picture of the God-trusting life, so complete and so true.” (IB, p. 126)

“From a shepherd’s point of view this statement marks the halfway stage in the Psalm  . . . Now it turns to address the shepherd directly. The personal pronouns “I” and “Thou” enter the conversation. It becomes a most intimate discourse of deep affection. . . .Most of the efficient sheepmen endeavor to take their flocks onto distant summer ranges during summer. This often entails long ‘drives.’ . . . During this time the flock is entirely alone with the shepherd. They are in intimate contact with him and under his most personal attention day and night. . . .Every mountain has its valleys. Its sides are scarred by deep ravines and gulches and draws. And the best route to the top is always along these valleys. . . . Not only is this the way to the gentlest grades, but also it is the well watered route. Here one finds refreshing water all along the way. There are rivers, streams, springs and quiet pools in the deep defiles. . . . Naturally these grassy glades are often on the floor of steep-walled canyons and gulches. There may be towering cliffs above them on either side. The valley floor itself may be in dark shadow with the sun seldom reaching the bottom except for a few hours around noon. . . . The shepherd knows from past experience that predators like coyotes, bears, wolves or cougars can take cover in these broken cliffs and from their vantage point prey on his flock. There could be rock slides, mud or snow avalanches and a dozen other natural disasters that would destroy or injure his sheep. But in spite of the hazards he also knows that this is still the best way to take his flock to the high country. He spares himself no pains or trouble or time to keep an eye out for any danger that might develop.” (Keller)

“VALLEY. Depression; meekness; darkness. ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’ (Psalm xxiii. 4.) Though the way is dark in mortal sense, divine Life and Love illumine it, destroy the unrest of mortal thought, the fear of death, and the supposed reality of error. Christian Science, contradicting sense, maketh the valley to bud and blossom as the rose.” (S&H, p. 596)

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for [Love] is with me;” (S&H, p. 578)

To be Continued