Our Sufficient Shepherd
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Psalms 23:1 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
Sermon Series: The Shepherd of The Soul, Pt. 1
Keywords: (Suggest Keywords)
David, Shepherd, Jesus Christ, Savoir
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David writes the most poetic chapter to any book ever written. The imagery captures the imagination of every age, comforts the commotion of every heart and confirms the expectations of every believer.
David writes this memorable Psalm out of great distress and disillusion. Distress because of King Saul chasing David down and trying to kill him and disillusioned because this cruelty is not what David expected from his own family and nation!
It’s as if David is saying to us 3000 years later – God is ever present on the long and winding road called weariness, God is every bit powerful to remove the road blocks that intimidate us while traveling the torturous avenue called worry, and if we will follow Him, God has a place and a peace for each of us who are tired of wandering through the streets of life with no purpose in sight!
David knew how life could be at times, so confusing and cumbersome, so he wrote this honest Psalm for all who feel that…
• Life is a daring adventure.
• Life is like going through a car wash riding a bike.
• Life is like is like a box of chocolates – you never now what you’ll get.
• Life has its 7 stages: spills, drills thrills, bills, ills, pills and wills!
Oh how we need Psalm 23 so that we all keep dreaming while on life’s journey and conquering the life of the journey!
Let’s Look At How David Masterfully Relates a Shepherd to Sheep:
1. The Shepherd Is Permanently Responsible For His Sheep.
That’s why David could say, “The Lord is my Shepherd!”
He knew that there was a certain passion to possess His sheep!
Isaiah 40: 11 “He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs with His arms and carry them in His bosom and gently lead them.”
Psalm 100:3 “We are His people and His sheep.”
As you know, throughout the Bible God compares us to sheep! And no wonder! The behavior of sheep and humans are similar in many ways – our mass mindset, our fears, our timidity, and our perverse habits!
Empires and nations throughout the centuries have adopted animals as there symbols. In Russia, it’s the bear, In Great Britain, it’s the lion and in America, it’s the eagle. All these animals represent power and might – but when God looks at us He doesn’t see a lion, a bear or an eagle, He sees sheep – so much for our self esteem!
Notice that there are no sports teams called “sheep” – the “Dallas Sheep”, the “Pittsburg Sheep” – the “San Francisco Sheep” – maybe!
But notice also that God compares himself to a shepherd! That’s a 24/7 job – if you didn’t know that! To my knowledge, only one time has God taken a break, Genesis 2:2 “And God rested” – since then He’s never gone on a vacation during your trials, never been late to work out your troubles, never taken sick leave during your crisis and never filled out a disability claim during your deepest hurt! Folks, if we let Him, God will take care of us!
See the word “LORD” = “Yahweh” – it’s used over 1000 times in the Bible and is the most sacred name of God.
Something fascinating about this name of God – it’s made up from the 3 tenses of the Hebrew verb “To be”: (are you ready for this?)
• 1st tense: “Yae” = to be
• 2nd tense: “Hove” = he is
• 3rd tense: “Hiwa” = he was
Literally God is revealing himself to David as, The God who was, who is and who will be forever the Shepherd of your soul! With God it’s hard to keep the tenses right with God because God is always and everywhere!
Folks - the work of the Shepherd is the welfare of His sheep! Sheep are not responsible to always meet their own needs. God is no ordinary Shepherd because He owns everything, can do everything, so when we have a need - He can meet it!
Notice in this first verse David uses “Lord” and “Shepherd” – Why? Because when we think of:
• “Lord” we think of deity
• “Shepherd” we think of humanity
• “Lord” we think of sovereignty
• “Shepherd” we think of humility
• “Lord” we think of majesty
Let me ask - does this sound like anyone? Let me help you…
John 10:11 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep.”
Hebrews 13:20, 21 “May the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep…make you complete in every good work…”
1 Peter 5:4 “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
When Jesus becomes your Savoir, Jehovah becomes your Shepherd!
A Sunday school teacher gave his class an assignment to learn the 23rd Psalm by next Sunday because each was going to recite it to the whole church. A little boy named Bobby, just couldn’t get it all in his head, he struggled all week long. Finally Sunday comes and the church is packed out, standing room only, and suddenly it’s Bobby’s turn to say the Psalm.
His teacher whispered, “O.K. Bobby it’s your turn!” Bobby is shaking like a leave and sweating bullets, and then Bobby shouts, “The Lord is my Shepherd…and that’s all I need to know!”
2. The Shepherd Is Powerfully Responsive To His Sheep.
“I shall not want”
There are 7 great names of God throughout the Bible and one is found right here – “Jehovah Raha” = The Lord my Shepherd!
3 key words connected to Jehovah Raha – Guiding, guarding and giving. Guiding to shelter - guarding from danger - giving food.
“Want” = literally lack
Psalm 34:10 “The young lions lack and suffer, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
Psalm 37:25 “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken…”
We worry everyday because everyday we won’t trust God!
Some may say, “That’s sounds good but, but there was a time He didn’t meet one need in my life!” Well, let me say that if God didn’t meet that need then it wasn’t a need – just because you say it’s a need, doesn’t make it a need!
3. The Shepherd Is Personally Related To His Sheep.
If you can’t say “MY” then this Psalm is not for you and there’s no guarantee that God will meet your needs! The need to be saved from sin is the greatest need that anyone on this planet needs!
Think about it, “MY” is the golden key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s best in our lives! You see, when you look up and say “My Shepherd” that’s your supreme act of faith and that makes God look down and say, “My Sheep”, that’s His supreme act of grace on his half! So what’s so beautiful about Jesus is – He not only gives us everything we need – He’s everything we need!
If you’re hungry, He’s the bread of life!
If you’re thirsty, He’s the spring of living water!
If you’re lost, He’s the way!
If you’re lonely, He’s your friend that sticks closer than a brother!
If you’re in the dark, He the light you need!
So maybe you’re asking, “How do I get to know this Shepherd?” Great question!
Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, everyone to his own ways. And the Lord has laid on Him the sins of us all.” NIV
Phillip Keller writes, “The day I bought my first 30 sheep, my neighbor and I sat on the dusty corral rails that enclosed the sheep pen and admired the choice, strong, well bred sheep that had just become mine. Turning to me, he handed me a large, sharp killing knife and said to me, “well Phillip, They’re your, now you’ll have to put your own mark on them.”
“I knew exactly what he meant. Each shepherd has his own distinctive earmark, which is cut into one of the ears of the sheep. In a way, even at a distance, it is easy to determine to whom the sheep belong.”
“It is not the most pleasant procedure to catch each sheep and lay her ear on a wooden block, then notch it deeply with the razor sharp knife. There was pain for both of us. But from the mutual suffering and indelible mark of ownership was made that could never be erased. And from then on every sheep that came into my possession would bear my mark.”
Folks, there is a striking parallel to this in the O.T. When a slave in a Hebrew household decided (on his own free will) to become a member of that family, he subjected himself to a certain ritual. His master would take him over to a door, put his ear lobe against the doorpost and puncture a hole through the slave’s ear. From that time on, that slave was marked for life as belonging to this family!
For every person who knows Jesus personally as a Lamb slain from the foundations of the world, then he has marked your soul with the blood that dripped from his wounded body – you see that was the Shepherd dying for His sheep! Just acknowledge Him today and He’s your possession and you’re His possession!
Charlton Heston tells a great story when he was invited as the guest of honor at an elite gathering in Washington D.C. He was asked to recite the 23rd Psalm before all the guests that happened to include Billy Graham. He said to the guests that he would only if Billy Graham would recite it too – and Dr. Graham agreed. The wonderful actor recited the words beautifully, with great dramatic flare, and then the room broke out with loud applause. Then the preacher got up and with his tired voice, he recited the Psalm, but when he finished there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Later on Charlton Heston was asked what made the difference, and he replied, “I know the Psalm, but Billy knows the Shepherd.”