There was once a Shakespearean actor who was known everywhere for his one-man shows of readings and recitations from the classics. He would always end his performance with a dramatic reading of Psalm 23.
Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation — “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”… the crowd would listen attentively. Then, at the conclusion of the Psalm, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the actor’s incredible ability to bring the verse to life.
But one night, just before the actor was to offer his customary recital of Psalm 23, a young man from the audience spoke up, “Sir, do you mind if tonight I recite Psalm 23?”. The actor was quite taken back by this unusual request, but he allowed the young man to come forward and stand front and center on the stage to recite the Psalm, knowing that the ability of this unskilled youth would be no match for his own talent.
With a soft voice, the young man began to recite the words of the Psalm. When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The audience had been so moved by the young man’s recitation that every eye was full of tears.
Amazed by what he had heard, the actor said to the youth, “I don’t understand. I have been performing Psalm 23 for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training – but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?”
The young man quietly replied, “Well sir, you might know the Psalm… but I know the Shepherd.”
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15