The above [explanations] can be connected to the Midrash’s comments on the phrase: “For the chief musician, by David, a prayer of remembrance.”1 [The Midrash relates]2 an analogy of a king who had a flock of sheep. At one point, he was angered with them and drove away the sheep, broke open the corral, and dismissed the shepherd. After time passed, he gathered together the sheep, rebuilt the corral, but made no mention of the shepherd. The shepherd protested: “The sheep are gathered together and the corral is rebuilt. Why am I not mentioned?”

[To refer to the analogue,] in the previous kapitl, David said:3G‑d will deliver Zion and rebuild the cities of Yehudah” — this is analogous to “the corral is built.” [David continues:] “And they shall settle there and possess it. And the offspring of His servants will inherit it and those who love His name will dwell there”3 — [thus] the sheep have been gathered together. “Why then,” asked David, “am I not mentioned?” [And as a result,] he authored this prayer of remembrance.

It is necessary to understand: The king regathered the sheep after he had been angered by them (and they lost favor in his eyes) because his desire for them had been rekindled. Why then did he fail to mention their shepherd on his own? Why was a special request necessary for this?4

The concept can be explained as follows: Will is an encompassing light. [As a result,] it is possible for the will [of G‑d] to be drawn down only in an external manner. For this reason, [it is possible that no mention be made of the shepherd,] and it was necessary for David to request that. A shepherd is identified with [helping his flock] internalize influence5 (as evident from the well-known contrast6 between the [spiritual] shepherds [of the Jewish people] and [their] princes).7 Thus as long as the inward influence ([facilitated by] the shepherd) is lacking, the most fundamental element is lacking. [It is possible that such a lack will exist because] the encompassing light can be drawn down [only] from the external dimension of the encompassing light, while the source of inward influence is from the inner dimension of the encompassing light.8

[The question, however, arises:] Once the sheep have been gathered together, they will be granted all their needs. If so, how is it possible to say that they will not have a shepherd? [Sheep need a shepherd. In the analogue, it is necessary for the Jewish people to internalize the influence they are granted from Above. How is it possible that in an era of Divine favor this need will not be granted?]

[In resolution,] it can be explained that the inner influence that is drawn down by the shepherd comes about through the study of the Torah.9 [Thus, at a time of Divine favor, when “the corral is built” and the “sheep are gathered,” i.e., the era of the Redemption, the Jews will certainly be granted the influence of a shepherd through the Torah]. Nevertheless, the Torah of the present age is “emptiness” when compared to the Torah of Mashiach.10 Thus [without the revelation of the teachings of Mashiach,] the fundamental aspect to be contributed by the shepherd11 (internalizing [the essential revelations of that future era]) is lacking.

Even though we are speaking about the Future Redemption after [the fulfillment of the prophecy]: “G‑d will deliver Zion and rebuild the cities of Yehudah,”12 [and thus all the apparent needs of the Jewish people will be met, there is still a need that King David addressed in his request. For] the fundamental revelation of G‑dliness that will take place in that future era is the revelation of the Essence of G‑dliness which is above comprehension. This was the request of King David (who is referred to as David, “the anointed king,” [and is the progenitor of Mashiach, “the anointed one”]) — and his request brought about its fulfillment13 — that there would be a shepherd, i.e., [one who would facilitate] the comprehension and grasp of [this essential dimension of] the Torah14 in a consummate manner.15