Funeral Message Psalm 23a
Stephen Caswell © 2001
I Know the Psalm, But He Knows The Shepherd
A famous entertainer was once asked to recite the 23 rd Psalm in a performance. A large audience filled the large auditorium. After he finished everyone gave him a generous round of applause. After this an old man was asked to present the same Psalm. When he finished there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Everyone was touched by his devotion to the Shepherd. The entertainer came back to continue the program. Before starting the program he said, I know the Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd! Psalm 23 is the most popular and probably the most read Psalm of all. It brings comfort and encouragement to all who read it. However, I feel that most people miss out on some of the deepest and richest truths that it has to share.
Psalm 23:1-2 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
David wrote this Psalm from personal experience because he too was a shepherd. David knew that he had received God's lavish care all his life. The Shepherd fed David in peaceful green pastures. He refreshed him with cool water from a quiet stream. God provided so well for him that he lacked nothing. David was satisfied. But all of this was because David knew the Lord. David called the Lord, My Shepherd. David knew his Shepherd well and the Lord knew David too.
Our Position in Christ
The story is told of a wealthy London businessman who searched many years for his runaway son. One afternoon he was preparing to board a train to London when he spotted a man in ragged, dirty clothing begging for money from passengers along the station platform. His first impulse was to avoid the beggar, but there was something strangely familiar about him. When the beggar approached and asked if the man could spare a few shillings, the businessman realized he had found his long lost son, crying " A few shillings? you are my son - everything I have is yours! " Unlike the business man's son David knew He belonged to the Lord. The Good Shepherd provided for all His needs. God's provisions are certainly available, but only if the Lord is your shepherd. How can the Lord become your Shepherd?
Ps 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Why do we need the Shepherd to restore our soul? Because it is the nature of sheep to wander away from the safety of the fold. Like sheep we have wandered into the wilderness of sin. 1 Peter 2:25: For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Only the shepherd can restore our souls from the ravages of sin. Only He can make us right with God again. The restoration He gives is forgiveness of sin and peace with God. This is the reason why Jesus came to earth.
How can a lost sheep be restored to the fold? Through repentance and faith. The word repent means that we stop going our own way and return to the Shepherd. Isaiah 53:6 says: All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. We ask Jesus to restore our souls. We must believe that He died for our sins and that He rose again to give us new life. Will you obey the Good Shepherd? Will you repent of your sin and believe in Him? He can't restore us if we don't listen to His voice. John 10:11 says: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
The Peace Child
Don Richardson recalls his life amongst the Sawi people of Irian Jaya in a book called The Peace Child. For many months he sought to bring peace to them and their neighboring tribe. These two tribes were continually fighting. For a long time they failed to bring peace. This was because all demonstrations of kindness expressed by the Sawi were regarded with suspicion. All, except one act. If a father gave his own son to his enemy, his sacrificial deed showed that he could be trusted! This is what happened a father gave his only son to the neighboring tribe and brought peace. Furthermore, everyone who touched that child was brought into a friendly relationship with the father. The Sawi then realized that this was what God had done for them. His beloved Son brought them eternal peace with Himself.
How can we walk in the paths of righteousness? It seems too hard. By following the Jesus, the Good Shepherd. It is by Christ's death that we are saved from our sins. But it is His resurrection that enables us to walk in the paths of righteousness. Hebrews 13:20-21: Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. The Good Shepherd leads us in the paths of righteousness. However He can only do this after He restores our soul.
Does this mean that everyone will be saved by Christ's death? No it doesn't! John 10:26-28: You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. Jesus offers salvation to the all but many won't believe Him. Only those who believe that Jesus died for them will be saved. Has your soul been restored? Have you believed in the Good Shepherd?
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
How can you have assurance when you face death? By making this journey with the Shepherd. He knows the way. If you travel through the mountains passes of Tibet you need a guide. Often the weather closes in and you can't see where you are going. But a guide can get you through because he knows the way so well. He has journeyed the pathway many times before.
This is what the Good Shepherd has done for us. He is the only one to journey through death and come out victorious. Jesus Christ conquered sin, hell and the grave. He knows the way and He will personally lead you home if you are His sheep. I visited John during his last days and can testify that he had this assurance. He was not afraid of dying because God was with Him. He was at peace because he knew the Good Shepherd would lead him home. Do you have this same assurance? Or does death frighten you? You won't be afraid if you know the Shepherd because He'll take you home.
Moody More Alive
D.L. Moody said to a friend, someday soon you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all — out of this old clay tent into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.
Psalm 23:5-6 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Those who belong to the Good Shepherd receive a lavish welcome when they arrive home. The table here speaks of feasting and fellowship. This will continue forever and ever. God's sheep will never again leave His house. Verse 6 summarizes really well the life of those who follow the Good Shepherd. Goodness and mercy follows them all their lives and then they dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Do you have this hope?
Moody Saw Heaven
A few hours before entering the Homeland, D. L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said, Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go. His son who was standing by his bedside said, No, no, father, you are dreaming. No, said Mr. Moody, I am not dreaming: I have been within the gates: I have seen the children’s faces. A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle he spoke again: This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!
At 4:30 am on Monday morning the Good Shepherd lead our brother to paradise. If you had died last Monday morning would the Good Shepherd have lead you home? Perhaps you know the 23rd Psalm well like the entertainer, but do you know the Shepherd? Do you have a personal relationship with Him?
Only those who know the Good Shepherd will enjoy the benefits of this Psalm. Can you honestly say, the Lord is my Shepherd? The promise of God's provision, sins forgiven, a constant companion and a home in heaven only applies to those who know Him. You may know the 23 rd Psalm, but do you know the Good Shepherd? If not, will you ask Christ to be your Shepherd today?
Its as simple as A, B, C.
a. = Admit that you are a sinner and can't save yourself.
b. = Believe that Jesus died for you and rose again.
c. = Confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.