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23 Though I walk through the valley

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A breakdown of the 23rd Psalm

Recap Sermon Series: 23rd Psalm (Shepherd’s Perspective)
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. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Intro: 1. A shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm- Phillip Keller who grew up as a shepherd in East Africa
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
2. The 23rd Psalm is a year in the life of a shepherd
He leads me beside still waters.
3. He makes me lie down in green pastures, leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul.
4. The strange thing about sheep is that it is nearly impossible to make them lie down unless certain requirements are met
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
5. The shepherd must create an environment of peace and security for the sheep to lie down
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Though I walk through the valley
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
From the Sheppard perspective this verse marks the halfway point of the psalm. Up to this point the sheep have been bragging on their shepherd now it turns to address the Sheppard directly. This is a normal and natural occurrence. The long tracks into the high country with their summer range begin here. Left behind or the neglected sheep on the other side of the fence. Their owner knows nothing of the Hillcountry the mountain meadow to which the sheep will be. Their summer will be spent in the close companionship and solitary care of the good shepherd. Both in Palestine and on our western sheep ranches the division of the year is common practice. most of the efficient sheepman endeavor to take their flocks onto distant summer ranges during
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
1) on to higher ground
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
2) Time alone with the shepherd
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Introduction: Truth about Valley(s) - “Valley’s are scary” (TRANSLATED ‘DEEP DARKNESS’)
Illustration: Capitol Peak Hike (treed by cows)
- I am not sure that this was the place that David had in mind whenever he was writing this passage…but I can relate to why they called it the Valley of the Shadow of Death!
Seriously though: What is this verse and reference to “valley of the shadow of death” about?
- A shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm (Phillip Keller) who grew up as a shepherd in East Africa. The 23rd Psalm is a year in the life of a shepherd.
- From the shepherd’s perspective this verse marks the halfway point of the Psalm.
- Up until this point the sheep have been bragging on their shepherd - life has been good for the sheep: Needs are supplied for, had found green pastures for food, clean water for drinking, the shepherd has even “restored” his failing health & even guided him down good paths! Life is good for the Sheep.
- But wait! Now all of the sudden the Psalm turns to address the Shepherd directly (the language changes) Life for the sheep has taken a downward turn; the green pastures have turned into dark valleys!
- What is interesting is that even the language in the Psalm changes…from “He” to “I” and “You” - suggesting an deep relationship between the sheep and shepherd though the Valley
The Shepherd Life
- Winter for the sheep was always spent at the safety of the sheep ranch.
- But as soon as the weather warmed up, the shepherd would begin to lead his flock of sheep up the mountain, following the receding snow to find the greenest grass. (God wants the best for us)
- As summer wore on, the shepherd would lead his flock further and further up the mountain to the most remote meadows.
- Then during fall, when snow started falling on the highest parts of the mountains, the shepherd would begin to lead his sheep back down, ending up back on the sheep ranch just as winter would set in.
- Then the next spring, do it all again.
- During the months away from the ranch, the sheep were completely alone with the shepherd, and their well-being was totally in the shepherd’s hand.
- The sheep trusted the shepherd to lead them up safe paths to fresh food and water.
- Here’s the thing about leading sheep up a mountain: you cant go straight up!
- The shepherd would have to take the gentlest grade to get higher up the mountain, which often meant going through valleys.
- Valley’s were also where the best grass & water could be found.
- But they were often deep ravines, dark because of canyon walls, shadowy, unpredictable.
- Valleys presented serious dangers to the sheep.
- Predators (wolves, lions, etc…were there)
- Sheep were susceptible to sudden intense storms, rockslides, avalanches.
- Weren’t always safe places to be.
- But the shepherd knew that the only way to get up the mountain was to go through the valley.
T.S. Each of us has a desire to reach and stay at constant “mountaintop experiences” with God. (Times when we can chill in God’s presence and his love free from any dangers. But realistically, we each know that those mountaintop experiences are often only attainable by going through the Valleys. (Every mountain has a valley)
Counselors say it like this: Whenever you face Financial Valleys, Health Valleys, Relational Valleys, Emotional Valleys, Work Related Valleys - our lives are thrown completely out of whack!
- Once we get our bearings we try to return our life to the normal we had before.
- But the crisis has completely altered things…
- and life may not ever go back to the normal we once knew.
- What we can do is try to establish a “new normal” - created in light of how our life has changed.
- Many people tell about how it was in the midst of the crisis (valley) that they experienced God, and that God walked with them out of the crisis and into their new and better normal.]
We need the Valleys in life…to go where the Shepherd wants us to be.
* It is important for us to always remember that the same shepherd who restores our soul and leads us in the path of righteousness, is also leading the sheep through the valley of the shadow of death. (Not death…but makes the sheep feel like they are going to die!)
* Why? Because he knows that the valley is essential in getting us to where he knows what is best for our lives.
* They are guaranteed. (You will go through them)
* Bible even says, “You will have trouble” -
* You will have opportunity to be discouraged, disappointed, suffer, be sorrowful , be sick, full of frustration, and even fail.
* They are unpredictable
* They will hit when you don’t have the time, resources, energy, patience, wisdom
* They are terrifying
* “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (They may feel and seem like death)
* They are temporary
* They won’t last forever.
* “leads us through” them.
* We don’t stop or die there - we “walk through the valley”
* They are purposeful
* Remember our shepherd “leads us in paths of righteousness”
* He has a reason for “leading us through” them.
* Valley’s lead us to Higher ground.
Even though :: I walk through :: the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me;
“Even though”
- This is a statement that say, “so what, I am in this valley…I still have reason to sing!”
- Because that’s what this Psalm is - its a song!
- David is saying, “the valley, yeah it scary, but who cares…I KNOW WHO MY SHEPHERD IS”
- And I am going to keep moving up the mountain!
- “Disappointment is inevitable. But to become discouraged, there’s a choice I make. “
- “Let now feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.” - Lincoln
- “Don’t let life discourage you. Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” - Rachel Evans
- Never forget no matter the valley, there is always an “even though” - because we serve a big God.
“I walk through”
- Think about this, he walks through the valley…doesn’t run in panic!
- Illustration: I don’t like horses…and here is why, “Isaac Aguilar”
- When we panic we often make things worse.
- We create a bigger mess
- We don’t think rationally
- We try solving on our own.
- Fear, like discouragement, is a choice!
- If you are in fear, you are choosing to be afraid. If you are discouraged, you are choosing to be discouraged. You are choosing to look at the negative things!
- When we panic, think of what we miss….
- The shepherd led the sheep through the valley because there was “good food” there & “good water” there.
- What this means for us, sometimes when we go through the valley there a “nourishing” message that God is trying to help us learn.
- We don’t pay attention to that message when we flail about running away from our shepherd.
- Never forget not matter the valley, “we walk through it”
- We weren’t meant to “die” in the valley.
- The valley was to get us to where the shepherd wanted us to go.
“The valley of the shadow of death”
- Think about this, he walks into the “valley of the shadow of death”
- A shadow cast is usually much bigger then the actual object.
- They are bigger then reality.
- It is easier for us to get courage to face something we know, but an evil which we don’t know and strike us with great fear.
- Sometimes, we defeat ourselves in the valley before we ever really face the problem…
- The unknown fear - kills our joy.
- Shadows can’t hurt us…
- They can only mess with our minds.
- Illustration: (Sixth sense - balloon)
- Never forget, the Shadow of Death is not death. You will be tempted to fear and panic and worry…but we don’t because our Shepherd is with us through it all.
- Remember, there is no shadow without a light somewhere!!!!
“I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
- When we refuse to become discouraged, refuse to panic, refuse to worry you place yourself in a position to put your focus on your shepherd!
- Remember: during this season, it was just the shepherd with the sheep alone…an opportunity for relationship and dependency to be built.
- In this passage he is talking to the shepherd, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me”
- We are able to find refreshment from God himself in the valley!!!
Because sometimes when we’re eating from the green pastures, drinking to cool water from the refreshing springs, getting out legs messaged by the shepherd….we FORGET ABOUT GOD.
We become more intimate with God in the the times of Darkness.
- It is in the valley that we find refreshment not from green pastures and still waters, but from GOD himself.
- In the Valley We are given time alone with the Shepherd.
- We are under his personal care day and night.
- Our faith is built in the valley
- He wants to build our character over our comfort
- He wants us to pursue holiness over happiness.
The only way to the mountaintop is through the valley.
In the valley we are not talking about GOD
We are talking TO GOD.
If you are in the valley, there is hope in Jesus Christ. (our shepherd)
He can give you peace as you trust him.
We all have problems: Financial, family, physical, relational…
- but in that valley, what will you focus on…the “shadow of death” or the light that casts the shadow.
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