Psalm 23 2
The Lord is My Shepherd
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:
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
So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.
For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.
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.
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.”
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
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:
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
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth
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
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.