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19(Psalm 023) Protection of the Shepherd

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psalm 23 (protection of the shepherd).doc                                                                             Bob Wiegel

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (KJV)

The day of grazing was over and the evening sun was beginning sun was sinking, leaving shadows that grew ever larger over the hills and valleys. Often the shepherd had to lead his sheep through the narrow valleys to make it home.

The ‘shadow of death’ is used throughout to refer to utter blackness. It is used in Amos 5:8 to describe the darkness before the dawn. Elsewhere as a metaphor for not walking with God. (Is 9:2).

Not to be associated with the coming of death, but all the days that are in between birth and death. Days of hardship; days of not knowing what to do next; days of anxiety; days of loneliness.

From the valley we have the question, “Do we trust the shepherd, or fear the moment?” fear can seize the heart and cause us to wander, even run away.

David said he feared no evil. Claiming the “Lord as your Shepherd” drives fear away.

2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'

Walking through the valley of the shadow of death is not a time for fear but courage. Not courage to fight, but the courage to trust the Shepherd.

Protected by His Presence. (23:4b “for thou art with me”)

A.    We’re like the child afraid of the dark, but when the Father suggests he will go with us the fear is released. (ILLUS: feeling my dad’s whiskers at night.)

B.    He is WITH us. (Heb 13:5 …"I will never leave you nor forsake you." )

1.     Abraham … I am with you to bless you. (Gen 26:24).

2.     Jacob … I am with you to keep you. (Gen 28:15).

3.     Israel … I am with you to strengthen you. (Isaiah 41:10).

4.     Jeremiah … I am with you to deliver you. (Jeremiah 1:8).

5.     Judah … I am with you to save you. (Jeremiah 30:11).

6.     Jesus to us … I am with you to the end of the age. (Matt 28:20).

He is with us!

Isaiah 43:1-3 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

There are aspects of God that can only be understood when we are going through the valley of the shadow of death. He is with us, and there is not a place we can go where His presence will not be there.

Psalms 139:7-11 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," even the night shall be light about me;

It is that presence that makes David able to say, “I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”

II.  Protected by His Power (23:4c “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”).

A.    Sheep are not known for being aggressive and able to defend themselves. They trusted their shepherd to be their defender.

B.    The Rod – like a club for chasing off man or beast trying to harm or steal sheep.

1.     During days of Jehoshaphat that a great number of enemies came to kill, steal and destroy Judah. Fear mounted up in their hearts as they were being forced into the valley of the shadow of death. And then they heard the shepherd’s voice:

        2 Chr 20:15 And he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: `Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.

2.     What weapon of threat can man devise to use against you?

        Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.

C.    The Staff – used to guide and correct the sheep.

1.     Sheep prone to wander, staff hooks them to bring them back. Not beat them over the head.

2.     Some think God’s Word is a rod to beat us. But he would rather use it as a staff to guide and direct our lives.

2 Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

3.     The staff can be used to break the leg of the sheep, to keep from straying.

Prov 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.

The great thing about our shepherd is He went through the valley of the shadow of death like no other has. He died for his sheep.

But our shepherd did not just die and leave us without a shepherd. He died to conquer death and destroy death. Then he was raised from the grave that His sheep might live abundantly and eternally.

(Psalm 23:4)

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