Psalm 23 | Oh, What a Shepherd!


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The LORD is not only our Savior and Ruler; He is our Shepherd. We should trust him enough to depend on His provision, fear no evil, and dwell in His presence. Oh What a Shepherd!

Jesus & Me in the Psalms / The Good Shepherd; Sheep; Trust; Fear; Dwell / Psalm 23 
 

TEXT

Psalm 23 KJV

A Psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

INTRO

Being a Christ follower begins with salvation—believing on Christ and His complete payment for our sins on the cross.

 

As we looked at last week, following Christ includes submitting to and serving the LORD as our Ruler and King.

 

Oftentimes though, believers need more than a Saviour and King.

 

There is another relationship we need from God, and that relationship is so famously painted in Psalm 23.

 

PROP

This special relationship we will address today is one we all need.

 

It is important that we understand and properly respond to this relationship.

 

You will not make it without leaning on this particular relationship with God.

 

TRANS

Today, we will look into Psalm 23

•    to make clear two realities of this relationship and

•    to move us to three responses we must have to those realities.

 

 

Two Realities:

 

#1 The LORD is a Shepherd.

 

So far while in the Psalms, we have mostly seen Jesus as either Savior or Ruler.

 

Now, we get to focus in on yet another relationship we have with our LORD—our Shepherd.

 

From the beginning of time, shepherds have been the proverbial “ditch diggers,” the down-trodden, the disrespected. Hence, even the angels came to the shepherds, the lowliest of all men, to share the news of the birth of Christ, as the story is told.

Over the centuries, nothing has changed much. From the shepherds of the hills of Scotland, to the shepherds of the new Western frontier, to the Basque shepherds who migrated from Mexico and became the shepherds of the far west and the emancipated slaves who headed west with prolific breeding sheep as their source of livelihood, all have been discriminated upon and viewed as a lowly class over the ages.

Even today, many wish not to be referred to as “shepherds” but instead as ranchers, land owners, or flock owners. The work of shepherding is left to the “lowly” or “immigrant” shepherds. Shepherds have typically been the transient or migratory workforce since the the early days of agriculture. Shepherds have never been romanticized like the western cowboy. In fact, the shepherd has often been cast as the villain, the migratory farmer who was ruining the cattle grazing land of the west.

Source: https://modernfarmer.com/2013/12/10-things-learned-lambs

 

Nonetheless, Jehovah likes to refer to Himself as a Shepherd!

 

Psalm 80:1 KJV

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.

Isaiah 40:11 KJV

11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with his arm, And carry them in his bosom, And shall gently lead those that are with young.

John 10:11 KJV

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Hebrews 13:20 KJV

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

1 Peter 5:4 KJV

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Revelation 7:17 KJV

17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

 

How does it help you to picture the LORD as your Shepherd?

 

So, if the LORD is our Shepherd . . .

#2 We are His sheep.

 

INTERESTING SHEEP FACTS

They have nearly 360 degree vision.

Sheep have rectangular pupils that give them amazing peripheral vision – it’s estimated their field of vision is between 270 and 320 degrees; humans average about 155 degrees – and depth perception. These are great assets when you’re a prey animal. It’s like surround sound for the eyes.

 

Their wool will grow forever.

Back in 2004, Shrek the Merino sheep hid in a cave for six years so he wouldn’t have to get sheared. By the time he was cornered and given his long-overdue haircut on New Zealand national television, there was enough wool to make 20 men’s suits.

 

There are some deep historical ties between sheep and U.S presidents.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison all raised sheep. In fact, Madison was sworn in wearing a coat spun from his sheep’s wool. Woodrow Wilson kept a flock at the White House during World War I to keep the grass trimmed as a cost-cutting measure and to show support for the war effort.

 

Source: https://modernfarmer.com/2017/12/6-facts-sheep-might-not-know/

 

While the Scriptures also describe believers as kings and priest, It also helps us see ourselves as humble, needy sheep.

 

We are sheep, personally known by our Shepherd.

 

John 10:3 KJV

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

 

We are sheep sent out by our Shepherd to represent Him with wisdom and gentleness, even to our enemies.

 

Matthew 10:16 KJV

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

 

While sent out, we are not left alone.  We need to respond properly to our Shepherd . . .

 

How do you think you should respond to your Shepherd if you are His sheep?

 

Three Responses:

 

#1 Trust the LORD’s shepherding. (vs. 1-3)

 

The Eastern shepherd never drives his sheep as does the Western shepherd. He always leads them, often going before them. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them” (John 10:4). This does not mean that the shepherd is always in front of his sheep. Although he may be usually in that position when traveling, he often walks by their side, and sometimes follows behind, especially if the flock is headed for the fold in the evening.

From the rear he can gather any stragglers, and protect such from a sly attack from a wild animal. If the flock is a large one, the shepherd will be in front, and a heifer will follow behind.

Isaiah speaks of the omnipresent LORD in a double relationship to His people:

Isaiah 52:12 KJV

12 For ye shall not go out with haste, Nor go by flight: For the Lord will go before you; And the God of Israel will be your rereward.

(Rear guide)

The skill of the shepherd, and personal relationship to them is clearly seen when he guides his sheep along narrow paths.

The Shepherd Psalm says: “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).

The grain fields are seldom fenced or hedged in Bible lands, and sometimes only a narrow path runs between the pasture and these fields. The sheep are forbidden to eat in the fields where crops are growing. Thus in guiding the sheep along such a path, the shepherd must not allow any of the animals to get into the forbidden area, because if he does, he must pay damages to the owner of the grain.

One Syrian shepherd has been known to guide a flock of one hundred fifty sheep without any help, along such a narrow path for quite a distance, without letting a single sheep go where he was not allowed to go. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

https://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=39&sub=414&cat_name=&subcat_name=Shepherds

 

Notice how the Psalmist desires the LORD’s shepherding:

 

Psalm 31:3 KJV

3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; Therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

Psalm 48:14 KJV

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.

 

10,000 Sermon Illustrations My Sheep Know My Voice

  My Sheep Know My Voice   A man in Australia was arrested and charged with stealing a sheep. But he claimed emphatically that it was one of his own that had been missing for many days. When the case went to court, the judge was puzzled, not knowing how to decide the matter. At last he asked that the sheep be brought into the courtroom. Then he ordered the plaintiff to step outside and call the animal. The sheep made no response except to raise its head and look frightened. The judge then instructed the defendant to go to the courtyard and call the sheep. When the accused man began to make his distinctive call, the sheep bounded toward the door. It was obvious that he recognized the familiar voice of his master.   Source unknown

 

The LORD knows those who believe on Him.

 

We should trust the LORD’s shepherding.

 

He knows us. He loves us. He shepherds us.

 

We have no need to:

•    Envy

•    Covet

•    Worry

•    Waste

•    Quit

•    Sloth

•    Lack

•    Stray

 

I shall not lack!

 

In what areas do you most struggle with trusting the LORD’s shepherding?

 

We not only should trust His shepherding, but we also should:

 

#2 Fear no evil. (vs. 4)

 

We should not fear:

•    Circumstances

•    Trials

•    People

•    Life

 

Wrongly placed fear is often a result of false assumptions.

 

1.  Person A is controlled by their assumptions of the thoughts of Person B.

2.  Person B is influenced by the countenance and obvious assumptions of Person A.

3.  It becomes a self-fulfilling assumption and fear.

 

Proverbs 29:25 KJV

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: But whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

 

Can you think of a time when you falsely assumed the motive of another, and it led you to wrongly fear?

 

We are to fear no evil because of the LORD’s:

•    Presence: “with me”

•    Protection: “rod”

•    Guidance: “staff”

 

Notice the difference of the two tools, rod and staff. This is important since the sheep would fear the rod, but draw near to the staff.

 

The staff would typically have a hook to rescue or pull in stray or fallen sheep.

 

The rod would sometimes have a club at the end for defending the sheep.

 

Questions:

So, is it sinful to experience the feeling of fear?

 

Should we embrace evil?

 

Is it right to fear anything?

 

Let’s address these questions:

 

It is wise to depart from evil.

 

Proverbs 14:16 KJV

16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: But the fool rageth, and is confident.

 

It is right to fear the LORD.

Joshua 24:14 KJV

14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.

1 Samuel 12:24 KJV

24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.

Psalm 34:4 KJV

4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:7–9 KJV

7 The angel of the Lord encampeth Round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: For there is no want to them that fear him.

 

Trusting the LORD is the anecdote of fear.

Psalm 56:3 KJV

3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

 

What kind of fears do you struggle with most?

 

We should trust His shepherding, fear no evil, and:

 

#3 Dwell in the LORD’s presence (vs. 5-6)

 

Experiencing the Lord’s leadership naturally creates within us a desire to dwell with Him.

 

This reminds me of Jesus’ command in John 15 to abide in Him.

 

Psalm 27:4 KJV

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

 

Results of dwelling in His presence:

•    Provision, vs. 1-3

•    Leadership, vs. 3

•    Protection, vs. 4

•    Nurturing, vs. 5

•    Joyful Relationship, vs. 6

 

I will desire God’s presence. I will dwell with God’s people!

 

I will be faithful, consistent, and uncompromised in my commitment to dwell in God’s presence and with God’s assembled people!

 

Do you inwardly desire God’s presence and the presence of His flock?

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The shepherd is deeply interested in every single one of his flock. Some of them may be given pet names because of incidents connected with them. They are usually counted each evening as they enter the fold, but sometimes the shepherd dispenses with the counting, for he is able to feel the absence of anyone of his sheep. With one sheep gone, something is felt to be missing from the appearance of the entire flock.

One shepherd in the Lebanon district was asked if he always counted his sheep each evening. He replied in the negative, and then was asked how then he knew if all his sheep were present. This was his reply: “Master, if you were to put a cloth over my eyes, and bring me any sheep and only let me put hands on its face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not.”

When one man visited the desert Arabs, he witnessed an event that revealed the amazing knowledge which some of them have of their sheep. One evening, shortly after dark, an Arab shepherd began to call out one by one the names of his fifty-one mother sheep, and was able to pick out each one’s lamb, and restore it to its mother. To do this in the light would be a feat for many shepherds, but this was done in complete darkness, and in the midst of the noise coming from the ewes crying for their lambs, and the lambs crying for their mothers.

But no Oriental shepherd ever had a more intimate knowledge of his sheep than JESUS our great Shepherd has of those who belong to His flock.

https://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=39&sub=414&cat_name=&subcat_name=Shepherds

 

John 10:14 KJV

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

 

 

The LORD is our shepherd.

We are His sheep.

 

May we:

1.  Trust His shepherding

2.  Fear no evil

3.  Dwell in His presence.

 

As looked at in other Psalms, the Shepherd became a sacrificial lamb so that all this could be possible.

 

God the Son came to us and died our death so that we could live through Him.

 

Do you know Jesus as your Savior, and do you follow Him as your Shepherd?

 

The Christian life hinges upon trusting the LORD.

 

Will you trust Him today?

 

Oh, What a Shepherd!

from Lakeshore Baptist Church by Pastor John Cole. Released: 2019. Genre: Preaching.



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