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Psalms - THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

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THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

Text:  Psalm 23

Thesis: To prove that we as Christians have a wonderful Shepherd who will only lead us

             to blessings upon blessings if we but only follow Him as His sheep.

Introduction:

1.      This psalm is said to be a complete illustration of total trust in God.

2.      The leading thought is that God will provide for His people.

3.      David is advocated by many as being the author, and there is no real compelling evidence to prove otherwise.

  1. Some suggest that he penned this psalm during the time of the rebellion under Absolom (e.g., Keil and Delitzsch).
  2. Nevertheless, the time period isn’t important in the sense that the thoughts are true no matter what situation may come.

4.      He would have been well familiar with the idea of a shepherd.

  1. David was the “shepherd-boy.”
  2. David described his encounter with a lion and a bear as he tended his father’s sheep (I Sam. 17.34-36).
  3. He had to protect his father’s sheep, but he knew that it was God who delivered him (I Sam. 17.37).
  4. Hence, he always had the knowledge that someone was watching over him.

5.      A shepherd was always watching over his sheep, protecting them, and caring and providing for them, because they were completely dependant upon him.

6.      What a comforting thought it is for a child of God to know that he has the Great Shepherd watching over him.

Discussion:

I.                   The Lord is a personal Shepherd (Psa. 23.1-3).

A.    Notice the phrase, “my Shepherd” (Psa. 23.1).

1.      “My” could be replaced with one’s own name.

2.      In the KJV, there are 16 personal pronouns used.

3.      Therefore, the Lord is concerned about each one of His people.

4.      He knows you, and He watches over you.

a.       Jesus says, “I know my sheep” (John 10.14).

b.      He even knows the very number of hairs upon our head (Matt. 10.30).

5.      Even the usage of “Shepherd” shows us that the image here is personal because a shepherd “lives with his flock and is everything to it” (Kidner 110).

6.      “The God of Israel is also the God of individuals” (VanGemeren 215).

B.     Therefore, as a result of this, “I” shall not want (Psa. 23.1).

1.      One has said that this means “therefore I can lack nothing.”

a.       We have been promised all of our needs (Matt. 6.25-34).

b.      The Hebrew writer tells us that our Good Shepherd will make us complete (Heb. 10.20-21).

2.      Matthew Henry wrote, “I shall be supplied with whatever I need; and, if I have not everything I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me or not good for me, or I shall have it in due time.”

3.      Adam Clark wrote, “How can they?  He who is their Shepherd has all power in heaven and earth, therefore he can protect them.”

C.     One’s Shepherd will lead him to the green pastures (Psa. 23.2).

1.      The scene here is the green pastures where the sheep will be able to eat plentiful.

a.       Our Shepherd thinks of His sheep.

(1)    “In the winter of 1910-11 an unprecedented storm ravaged Northern Syria. It was accompanied by a snowfall of more than 3 ft., which covered the ground for weeks. During that time, hundreds of thousands of sheep and goats perished, not so much from the cold as from the fact that they could get no food” (Patch).

(2)    With God, we never have to worry about this.

b.      Also, He leads us to the best of the best.

2.      Then, after they have eaten their fill, they lie down.

3.      The idea here is a “flock whose wants are supplied, lying down in the midst of abundance” (Barnes).

4.      Even in the midst of enemies, the sheep are able to sleep because of their confidence in their shepherd watching over them.

D.    One’s Shepherd will lead him beside the still waters (Psa. 23.2).

1.      Literally, the original renders a meaning of “waters of rest.”

2.      This verse speaks of the tranquility that belongs to one in fellowship with God.

a.       Truly, we have peace with God (Rom. 5.1).

b.      That is the peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4.7).

E.     One’s Shepherd will restore his soul (Psa. 23.3).

1.      My Shepherd will revive and reinvigorate my soul when it is exhausted and weary.

2.      This pictures the deeper renewal of the man of God.

3.      Keil and Delizsch suggests that the word itself “signifies to bring back the soul that is as it were flown away, so that it comes to itself again, therefore to impart new life, recreate. This He does to the soul, by causing it amidst the dryness and heat of temptation and trouble, to taste the very essence of life which refreshes and strengthens it.”

4.      As David stated it, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psa. 51.12).

F.      One’s Shepherd will guide him in the paths of righteousness (Psa. 23.4).

1.      This suggests guidance.

2.      We need guidance.

a.       Without it, we may walk on a way that seems right but which will end in death (Prov. 14.12).

b.      As Jeremiah wrote, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10.23).

3.      We are to be guided by God’s Word, and it will lead us to the path of 

 righteousness.

a.       “Your word is a light to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119.105).

b.      It will make us wise unto salvation and “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3.15-17)

II.                The Lord is a protecting Shepherd (Psa. 23.4).

A.    As the shepherd would lead his sheep, he would often pass through some dangerous places, but he would be ready always to protect His sheep.

B.     We often face difficult situation in our lives, but our Shepherd is protecting us.

1.   Robert Taylor observes, “How fitting that Jehovah cares for us for we are

      so very vulnerable to all types of seen and unseen dangers” (47).

2.   As the Hebrew writer puts it, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. 

      What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13.6).

C.     Despite the troubling situation, the sheep would not be fearful, because they had complete trust in their shepherd.

D.    We need not to fear, but rather trust in our Shepherd.

E.     The Shepherd’s “weaponry” served a two-fold purpose:

1.      The rod would be for protection.

2.      The staff would be for guidance: It would be hooked in order to enable the shepherd to pull his sheep out of a ditch into which they would often fall.

F.      All of this points to a complete picture of confidence in our Shepherd even in the darkest moments of life (Craige 207).  Illus. Footprints

III.             The Lord is a providing Shepherd (Psa. 23.5-6).

A.    David presents a picture of abundance in that the shepherd would provide all that was needed for his sheep (Psa. 23.5).

B.     We will be blessed in all faucets all life.

C.     Some say that the scene changes here to an enormous banquet, but it may also mean that the shepherd would place a little oil on his sheep that had received cuts and scratches along the way (Casey 134).

D.    One will have blessings overflowing, his cup will run over.

1.   We are able to enjoy “all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1.3).

2.   Guy N. Woods said, “No human pencil can describe all that God pours

       into the lot of our life” (qtd. in Taylor 49).

3.      Song: Count Your Blessings – Can we even begin?

E.     As one author put it pertaining to our spiritual feast:

To live thus is to live richly.

To walk here is to be replete with good things.

To find this tableland is to have found something of my Shepherd’s love for me.  (Keller 109)

F.   David concludes that goodness and mercy will be ever present all the days of

      his life.

1.   That is because such has been in the past because of his shepherd.

2.   Therefore, things will always be that way because his shepherd will 

      always bless him as long as he follows.

4.      Eventually, He will literally be in the house of the Lord!

a.       We cannot even begin to imagine the blessings that there await us.

b.      This is the place that has been prepared by the very “hands” of our Shepherd (John 14.1-3).

Conclusion:

1.      This sobering thought should bring one to his knees in humility.

2.      What a blessing it is to have the Lord as our Shepherd.

3.      Since He is, then let us follow Him.

  1. Let us be faithful unto death (Rev. 2.10).
  2. Let us preach and never cease!
  3. Let us walk in His footsteps (cf. 1 Pet. 2.21).
  4. As Jesus told us, His “sheep follow Him” (John 10.4).

Works Cited

Barnes, Albert.  Barnes’ Notes.  CD-ROM.

Casey, Terry D.  “The Lord is My Shepherd.”  The Book of Psalms: Volume 1 (Chapters

1-73).  Southwest Lectures.  Ed. Bill Jackson.  Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications,

1989.  130-35.

Clarke, Adam.  Clarke’s Commentary.  CD-ROM.

Craige, Peter C.  Psalms 1-50.  Word Biblical Commentary.  Ed. David A. Hubbard and

Glenn W. Barker.  Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983.

Henry, Matthew.  Matthew Henry’s Commentary.  CD-ROM.

Keil, C. F., and F. Delitzsch.  Commentary on the Old Testament.  CD-ROM.

Keller, Phillip.  A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970.

Kidner, Derek.  Psalms 1-72.  Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.  Ed. D. J.

Wiseman.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1973.

Patch, James A.  “Shepherd.”  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  Ed. James

Orr.  CD-ROM.

Taylor, Robert R.  Studies in Psalms.  Abilene, TX: Quality Publications, 1985.

VanGemeren, Willem A.  “Psalms.”  The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.  Vol. 5.  Ed.

Frank E. Gaebelein.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991.  1-880.

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