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19(Psalm 023) Preparation of the Shepherd

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Psalm 23 (Preparation of the Shepherd).doc (Ps 23:5-6)                                                        Bob Wiegel

We’ve come to the fourth and final message of our study of the 23rd Psalm.  We began with the intent of coming to know the Shepherd and not just the psalm. 

The Shepherd presented Himself to us in the 1ST message, showing us to live in His presence is a life of no wants.  In the 2ND message, we were introduced to the restful and refreshing provisions the Shepherd graciously provides.  And within the 3RD message we learned that each of us are surrounded by His presence and power to protect us.  Today we discover the Shepherd has made preparations for us, not to linger in the fields of life, but to eat and live in His house for all eternity.  Oh what a Savior-Shepherd we have!

I.    Preparing Me for His Table

Psalm 23:5a You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

A.    A Prepared Table

It is said that a shepherd before allowing his sheep to graze in a field will first go into the field and prepare it for the sheep by pulling up poison weeds, chasing off any harmful animal.

Matthew 6:13a  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one

Our Shepherd will never lead us into a field of harm.  If we find ourselves being led away to the temptations before us, be assured, “all we like sheep have gone astray.” David saw the hand of God constantly preparing a table for him. God has prepared a table for us.  As His sheep He knows our needs and there upon His table He has prepared for us –

Peace ... the Shepherd is our peace.

Comfort ... the Shepherd is our comfort.

Joy ... the Shepherd is our joy.

B.    A Welcomed Table

The anointing of the sheep’s head was for several reasons.  It would help keep flies away from the sheep’s face as well it was used to soothe the scratched faces of the sheep.  Some have suggested that it also protected the sheep from snake bites as the smell of the oil caused a snake not to strike at the sheep’s head.

But greater than the protection offered by the oil, was the ancient near eastern custom of anointing the head of a welcomed guest into one’s home.

Though we like sheep stray from our Shepherd we are always welcome at His table.  We are anointed with God’s Holy Spirit to be established in Christ and sealed for our day of redemption.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22  Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 

Through the Holy Spirit we receive fresh anointing of welcome. Oh to think one day we will sit at our Shepherd’s heavenly table forever! Amen!

C.    A Overflowing Table

David proclaims his cup runs over because of the Shepherd care and provision. At God’s table there is no lack of provision.  There is a fullness even to excess, supplying more than we will ever need.

God’s overflowing is not to our liking but His.  We often miss the overflow blessing of God because we are caught up in a life of “what we want.”  To acknowledge the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want ... allows us to see our cup truly is overflowing.

Haddon Robinson says it best, “With Him the calf is always the fatted calf; the robe is always the best robe; the joy is always unspeakable; and the peace passes understanding.  There is no grudging in God’s goodness.  He does not measure His goodness by drops like a druggist filling a prescription.  It comes upon in floods.  If only we recognize the lavish abundance of His gifts, what a difference it would make in our lives!”

John 10:10b  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Jesus our Shepherd has come that we might keep on having life.  He spreads before us a table prepared with His overflowing peace, comfort and joy.

II.  Pursuing Me with Goodness & Mercy

Psalm 23:6a Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;

It is because of the Shepherd’s overflowing care David was assured that the goodness and mercy of God would follow him into everyday of his life.

Many a sheep today are trying to pursue goodness through themselves and hoping for mercy.  But that is not want David speaks of.  David speaks of goodness and mercy following, not at a gingerly pace, but in hot pursuit of him.

The psalms are filled with the testimonies of God’s goodness and mercy.

Psalms 100:5  For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Psalms 106:1  Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

As sheep we too often believe the adage of  “God helps those who helps themselves.”  With that thought we can become arrogant and proud of what we have done, rather than what the Shepherd is doing.

David saw God as “helping those who are helpless.” Everyday our Shepherd pursues us to extend to us His goodness and mercy.

- In God’s goodness we receive what we do not deserve.

- In God’s mercy we do not get what we deserve.

- In God’s goodness He supplies our every want.

- In God’s mercy He forgives us our every sin.

(I. Preparing me for His table.)

(II. Pursuing me with goodness & mercy)

III. Placing Me in His House Forever

Psalm 23:6b And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

David began this psalm by making declaration of dependence that the Lord was his Shepherd and he had no wants in the here and now of this life.  He now ends this psalm with yet another declaration of having no wants in the life to come, known as the here after.

David saw an unbroken eternal relationship of fellowship with God because of the Shepherd’s continued presence with us.

Psalms 48:14  For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.

It is in the words of the Great Shepherd we too are assured of dwelling with Him forever.

John 14:2b-3  I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

What a sweet promise to know that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! In Him we are eternally secure!

John 10:28-30  “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 “I and My Father are one.”

He alone will meet our every need now and eternity to come.

Revelation 7:16-17  “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 “for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Amen!

(Psalm 23)

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