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Psalm 23 2

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The Lord is My Shepherd

Psalm 23


This is another one of the most loved and quoted passages from the Bible

            Often read at funerals and other hard times in our lives

I suppose that it is one of the most loved passages because it is a passage of encouragement.  It is a passage that gives us courage and confidence in God’s care for us no matter what.

I think to best understand the encouragement of this chapter we need to look at it in the context that David wrote it in.

David was a shepherd, he knew about shepherding and about sheep.  What I want to look at this morning is

1.      The sheep

2.      The shepherd

I.                   What are the characteristics of sheep?

We realize right away that if the Lord is the shepherd then David is referring to himself as a sheep.

1.      Sheep are social animals

Sheep like to be with other sheep, as a rule they do not hang out alone

2.      Sheep are easily lost

They have no sense of direction

Do not make out well if left to travel alone

3.      Sheep are apt to get themselves into trouble

Sheep tend to graze with their heads down constantly

They focus on the grass w/o paying attention to anything else

Most animals graze and look around frequently

         Deer, turkey, bear, cows, goats, etc.

They often get into trouble because they are focused on the grass rather than the danger

         *Illustration of a cliff in Scotland

         *Sheep would drop down 10-12 feet to eat grass on a ledge

         *After a while they realize they are trapped

4.      Sheep need a shepherd:  For the most part sheep are dumb

Need someone to watch out for them

*Shepherd came up on two coyotes that killed and were eating a lamb

*What do you suppose the others were doing?  Watching

Need someone to protect them:  How many people do you know that are scared of sheep?

No claws, no sharp teeth, no terrible horns

Can’t climb trees, squirt stink (skunk)

No mighty roar, no hard shell

Not fast in running away from danger

In the Bible God’s people are compared to sheep many times:

Psalm 78:52-53

But He made His own people go forth like sheep, And guided them in the wilderness like a flock; And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear

Psalm 79:13

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

Psalm 95:7

For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

Psalm 100:3

Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

John 10:2-5

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

John 10:7-9

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who ever came £before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

In many ways we are like sheep:

1.      Social creatures:  People do not like to be alone – God made us with the need for companionship Genesis 2

Many struggle today with loneliness.

2.      Easily lost, go astray quickly

Isaiah 53:6

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.

Romans 3:23 We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

3.      Get into trouble quickly

Just like sheep we often fail to see past the end of our noses

We so often get focused on grazing (getting) that we often miss what is really important and get into trouble

How many have thrown away family, friendships, God, etc. to get what they feel they want here and now?

4.      Need a shepherd

Need someone to watch out for us, protect us, give us strength, etc.

II.                 What does a shepherd do for his sheep? Psalm 23

1.      A shepherd leads his sheep v. 2

As a rule sheep have no sense of direction:  without someone to lead them they will wander and go astray

Sheep also do not do well when they are pushed or forced

If you read through Scripture when you see a shepherd mentioned with his sheep he is an active participant, always with the sheep on the mountains, on the plain, on the trail, etc.

God leads His sheep:

Exodus 13:21-22

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

Today we know that God gives us His Spirit to lead and guide us

John 16:13

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth

John 10:27

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

2.      A shepherd provides for his sheep vv. 2-3

He causes them to lie in green pasture

Green pasture is what the sheep need to eat to be healthy and survive

Idea is that He meets the needs of the sheep

How much time do we as a people spend today worrying about whether or not our needs will be met?

Matthew 6:8 says that God knows our needs even before we ask Him

Matthew 6:25-34 Turn and read

He leads them beside the still water

Speaks of meeting needs:  need of water

Also speaks of refreshment

Jesus is the living water that satisfies the longing sould

            John 4 woman at the well.

He restores my soul

He revives it, He invigorates it

3.      A shepherd is there with his sheep

That fact gives encouragement and hope in trouble

Vv. 4, 6

1)      I will not fear:  even if I face the valley of the shadow of death

2)      I will be in your presence forever v. 6

4.      A shepherd delivers from the enemy v. 5

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

Has the idea of security and victory over the enemy

David shared with King Saul that he had delivered his sheep from lions and bears 1 Samuel 17

We can thank God for the security that we have in Him

Romans 8:38-39

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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