Our lesson this morning in entitled: The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 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. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 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.
Psalm 23 is attributed to David – Young David knew about shepherding and protecting his father’s flocks (1 Sam 16:11; 1 Sam 17:34-36). Psalm 23 compares God’s people to sheep under the care of a good shepherd. Let’s look at the good shepherd as described in Psalm 23.
Vs 1 says -- “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ”Jesus is called the Good shepherd (John 10:11), the Great shepherd (Heb 13:20), and the Chief shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). God’s sheep are His creation in Jesus.
Ps 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Our shepherd Jesus knows & owns his sheep– he is not a hireling (John 10:12).
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Human shepherds buy sheep with money – but Jesus bought his sheep with a great price.
1 Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
The price was his own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19).
So we as Jesus’ sheep are his -- Jesus knows us by name -- And we know him. Jesus said sheep will come from a common sheepfold to the voice of their own shepherd, but not to the voice of others (like pets).
John 10:3-5 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
And as a consequence of following the Good Shepherd -- “I shall not want.” Human sheepherders may neglect theflock– allow over-grazing & parasites. But our good shepherd Jesus cares for us and sees that all our needs are supplied.
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Vs 2 says -- “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Raised on a farm I know cattle will lie down and chew their cud – but am told thatnervous, frail sheep are difficult to get to lie down, andstay on their feet watching for danger. However, a Good Shepherd can “make” his flock lie down.
First, to make the flock lie down -- there must be freedom from fear. A good shepherd stays with his sheep and spends sleepless nights – patrolling, protecting, and reassuring the flock.
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherdsabidingin the field, keeping watchover their flock by night.
In Tehachapi, CA where we lived (elevation 4000 ft) there were huge flocks, and shepherds had little travel trailers out in midst of the flocks (there were coyotes, bears, and mountain lions in the area). Sheep sense when the shepherd is there protecting them – and will lay down.
Ps 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Second, to make the flock lie down -- the shepherd must keep down rivalry in the flock. God doesn’t likebullies (dominant rams)– To get his flock to lie down he gets rid of the bullies.
I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong;
We need to be helpers and supporters one of another – not rivals.
Phil 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Third, to make the flock lie down -- the shepherd must keep his flock free from pest infestations that “bug” them and make them restless. Hegives the flock a cleansing – a“sheep dip” to eliminate insects and parasites. In the flock of God we sometimes are “bugged” by trials and temptations – but God will aid us by his providence to overcome.
1 Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
And we need to seek help from God in prayer for the things that “bug” us.
Phil 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
And last, to make the flock lie down -- the shepherd must see that the flock is properly fed.“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” And Jesus provides us with the “green pastures”of God’s comforting word to graze in -- to insure that we are properly nourished.
Jesus said in John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Next – the good shepherd “leadeth me beside the still waters”Jesus our shepherd is a leader -- he goes before us and we follow
John 10:2-4 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him.
He is qualified to go before us – having experienced the same perils -- set an example for us.