Psalm 23 in the NKJV
How many here have stated the words of Psalm 23 out-loud, or read them for comfort?
During my sabbatical I took some time to study deeper and contemplate the role God has called me to as a shepherd… In such a study it is impossible in my mind not to go to this passage!
No doubt this passage offers up some challenges to a Pastor’s heart as an undershepherd
The vivid picture given here and the illustration of God as a shepherd compounds with a heavy weight of responsibility the words written by Paul to Timothy and Titus as he challenges them in their role as Pastor/Shepherds
As I allowed myself to be immersed in this beautiful Psalm, I let go of being a shepherd for a while and remembered that I too am a fellow sheep
A lamb under The Shepherd, leading His sheep
This brought comfort, knowing He is ultimately responsible and fully capable
It also placed a heavy weight on my heart as I realized deeper His love for His sheep, and the tremendous responsibility I am under
Allow me in the time we have to share some of the things that meant a great deal to my heart as I looked into this Psalm...
The Lord Is My Shepherd...
Allow that to sink in…
When we say something is mine, we tend to think or imply that it belongs to us
Consider the statement again… IF, the Lord is your shepherd… YOU BELONG TO HIM!
This is a statement of ownership, possession, and responsibility
This concept is not a popular concept is it!
Remember the context here… A Psalm of David
He is referring to Israel, a people that God calls a people unto Himself, they pride themselves on being the people of God Jehovah!
Through out the OT God refers to Israel as His sheep and He as their shepherd
We see also as God comes as man in Jesus Christ that Christ too refers to himself as the Good Shepherd
We are His… Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:20
When a person places their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ… you belong to Him, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit!
Does the thought of being His make you sigh in comfort or bristle with concern?
What is your view of this Shepherd you belong to?
Phillip Keller states well: “Our view of Him is often too small, too cramped, too provincial, too human.
And because it is we feel unwilling to allow Him to have authority or control much less outright ownership of our lives....
If we pause to reflect on the person of Christ, on His power and upon His achievements, suddenly like David we will be glad to state proudly, ‘the Lord is my shepherd!’”
Notice with me too… the intimacy David refers here to God…A shepherd
Not a King in a palace far off rulling
Not a Warrior off doing battle for you
But a shepherd is with the sheep, knows them, watches them, cares for them.
We belong to Him!… Because of that David can state this following truth about our Great Shepherd:
I Shall Not Want!
David does not make this statement based off of life circumstances but rather on what a good shepherd does!
David should know… he was a shepherd.
Look at God’s Role with me as The Good Shepherd:
Rest in green pastures… looking out for what is best, feeding his sheep
keeps them moving
looking for good grass, no weeds, no cheat grass
green pastures have the daily dew of the morning
He refreshes our thirst!
Pure waters, he gives what is good and healthy
He restores the soul… this is above saving the soul
there would be times David would write that life's circumstances would cause the soul to be downcast
a sheep on his back, or in a swing (Show Video)
The path of righteousness… keeps us from getting in a Rut!!! we are creatures of comfort, don’t change… God leads us where it is best in righteousness out of our comfort into what is best.
WHY DO THIS!!!??? Why hassle with us and do all this?
For His Name Sake… we are His!
His care of us reflects on Him!
This is not health and wealth!
This is what is best… if it were health and wealth the next part of this Psalm would be pointless...
He Goes Through Life’s Valleys With Us...
He does not shield us from them
He does not go another way
We are talking difficult valleys too
In the shadow of death!
In all these times there is some fear, unknown, BUT we don’t have to fear evil!
The enemy can’t touch us… the shepherd is near
Look at the ability of our shepherd!!!!
Takes away fear
He brings comfort… not because the situation isn't there, but because He is there with us!
Notice His tools of comfort...
The ROD… short stick or club (thrown or used to beat off predators or sometimes to correct a wandering sheep)
Proverbs talks about the rod of disciple conjoined with a fathers love
The STAFF… the symbol of a shepherd.
(Used to help little lambs find their mother, help them in a tight spot, lift them up, and even place it along side of the lamb as it walks to assure the lamb the shepherd is close by)
We all need lifted up, especially in the valleys
He has the ability to comfort, assure us of His prescence
Lastly and by far not the least...
There is Great Blessing Being His Sheep!
Of all creatures sheep are most vulnerable… they have two tactics with their enemies/predators...
1) the can panic real well and when they do they scatter
2) they huddle together not knowing what is next hoping the shepherd does his job to protect
we gather together for safety, encouragement, need
We remind one another who our shepherd is… Jesus Christ our Savior!!!
So capable is our shepherd, He blesses us in front of our enemies
he doesn't remove us from their presence, rather blesses you and me in their presenece
I love to see that our great shepherd anoints us with oil...
A symbol of royalty… we are children of the KING!
Also a symbol and function of healing...
He cares for our wounds
The things that bug you and I in life He treats for it, bringing blessing and healing
David reflects on the blessings from God and has to declare “My cup overflows!!!”
We all the more!
He was looking ahead to a messiah and redeemer who would come,
We have Him (Jesus Christ!)
He has set up His abode in you and me with His Spirit!
Goodness and mercy… We saw it at calvary
Do you leave a trail behind you of goodness and mercy?
If we are following the good shepherd we should
When we wonder… we invite selfishness and destruction into our lives and what we leave behind us
As David wraps up this Psalm, no doubt praising God, he must have considered life...
This life is brief
This life may or may not see an abundance of visible blessings
BUT, the greatest blessing of all… to be considered one of His sheep, to belong to Him....
We get to DWELL in the house of the LORD FOREVER!
Our abode, home will be to be in His presence Forever… That is a long time, that is a blessing