WHEN WE WALK WITH THE LORD Psalm 23:1 Return To Psalm Master Index Page
There are certain passages of Scripture that seem to be especially dear and meaningful to us: John 3:16; John 14:1-3; and Psalm 23. Psalm 23 has been read in prisons, just before a man is put to death; in the hospital, at funerals, on the battle field; in times of loneliness, depression, pain, sorrow, or fear. David wrote these words in his twilight years; not from a pasture, but from the palace. • He had been a shepherd when he was young and now, he compares his God to a Heavenly Shepherd, taking care of His sheep. • Certainly this psalm has a message for the sorrowing, but it is unfortunate that it's used primarily at funerals, because Psalm 23 focuses on what Jesus does for us “all the days of our life” and not just at death (23:6). It would be a great study to examine all the “shepherd passages” in the Bible. Let me just share a few: 1. Psalm 95:6-7 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hands” (under His care). 2. Psalm 100:3-5 “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. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” 3. Isaiah 40:11 “He will feed His flock like a Shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead who are with young.” 4.
Some 600 years after David wrote Psalm 23, Jesus speaks the words of John 10:11 – “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” The first verse of Psalm 23 establishes the TONE and the THEME for the entire passage. We should learn to emphasize every word of the first verse: The LORD – literally, Jehovah – the Eternal, self-existent God, the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible.
This Jehovah, this Lord IS – present tense, right now, at this moment. The Lord is MY – a personal pronoun; He is mine today and He is yours today. It doesn't say, “The Lord is A shepherd,” or the Lord is THE Shepherd,” but “the Lord is MY shepherd” – and what a difference that little pronoun makes. If He is our Shepherd, if He is first in our lives, we will have everything we need. A little boy misquoted this verse, but he was right when he said, “The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I need to know.” A little girl said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, He's all I want.” Take the Shepherd out of this Psalm and there's no promise of anything! Two things I want to share with you from Psalm 23:1:
The Shepherd's Personal Relationship to the Sheep
Back in Psalm 14:1 David said, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” Now David says with great confidence and assurance, “The Lord is my Shepherd;” not the Lord might be my Shepherd, but with confidence, the Lord IS MY Shepherd. When you say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” you are declaring that you are a sheep. You and I cannot make our self sheep. Only God can make us sheep. God makes us sheep when we realize that: 1. Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...” 2. We have sinned against God and are spiritually separated from Him. But He has made previsions for us through His shed blood on the cross and by grace through faith in His redemptive work on the cross we can be saved if we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord in our life. 3. No person can consider himself one of the Lord's sheep unless he has been converted. If you are not a sheep, you are either a wolf in sheep's clothing or a goat! A sheep is not a wild animal, but a purchased creature. God has paid a great price for His sheep. Jesus says over and over that He is the God; the Jehovah, of the Old Testament. Now He says in John 10:11 “I Am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” In the Old Testament the sheep died for the Shepherd by being sacrificed.
In the New Testament the Shepherd died for the sheep on the cross of Calvary. Notice that the word “LORD” is all caps in 23:1. It is the Hebrew name “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” The rabbis and scribes of biblical times didn't feel comfortable writing or speaking the personal or proper name of God, fearing they would blaspheme His name or disrespect God in some way, so they substituted the title Adonai, which mean “Lord.” • The key text in the Bible on this subject if Exodus 3. God told Moses to go to Egypt and liberate the Hebrew slaves. Moses said, “What if they ask me who you are, God. What is your name?” • he answer came back from the burning bush, “I AM who I AM.” In other words, “I just AM. I AM and on one made me. I had no beginning and will have no ending. I AM the eternal, unchanging, self-sustaining, self- existent one. I AM what I have always been.” • All other life in the universe is derived from Him, but He derived His life from no where and from no one! He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. Why did the Lord compare us to sheep? Why didn't He compare us to a bear or lion or eagle? • Sheep are one of few animals that are beneficial both alive and dead. A dog is beneficial while it is alive, but it's not much good dead. A pig is not worth much when it's alive, but it cooks up pretty well when it is dead. • But sheep are beneficial when they are alive. They produce wool, milk, and reproduces. When they die they produce food and their skin is used for parchment. But sheep are utterly dependent upon their shepherd; someone to take care of them. • Dogs can adapt to the wild and track down their own food and take care of themselves. Many animals like buffalo and horses don't need human help at all. • But sheep are utterly dependent on the Shepherd to care to them. They have no defensive equipment except they can butt you a little bit with their heads. They can't fight with their hoofs or their teeth. They can't track down their own food. They can't run away very easily, or dig holes or climb trees. • They have no sense of direction. They can't hear well. They have poor eyesight, for they can see only about 14 feet. They need a shepherd. We are also like sheep because we are made for companionship with the shepherd. In the Hebrew language, the word for “friend” is derived from the Hebrew word for shepherd. Sheep become attached to their shepherd and the shepherd to them. If you could choose, what kind of shepherd would you choose? I would avoid one who was like a businessman who just wanted to make a profit off of me. I would want a personal shepherd who would love and protect and care for me. You and I don't have to worry about choosing the right shepherd, because the Perfect Shepherd has chosen us.
Here is the wonderful thing: The Glorious, Heavenly Shepherd wants me as one of His sheep to love and care for. Isn't it odd ...That a Being like God Who sees the facade ...Still loves the clod He made out of sod? Now isn't that odd?
The Shepherd's Personal Responsibility to His Sheep
Left to themselves, sheep are helpless and lack everything, but with the Good Shepherd, we lack nothing. What do sheep do when they need something? They huddle close to the shepherd. Before we try to get satisfaction FROM the Shepherd, we must get close TO the Shepherd. What is it that I shall not want for? A. Rest
It's interesting that the Psalm begins at this point. We might expect to begin with motion or activity, either by the shepherd or the sheep. • Here is a reminder that the Christian life begins with resting in Christ. - Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me...and I will give you rest.” - “Be still (rest) and know that I am God.” • Sheep will not eat or drink; nor will they lie down if they are fearful or troubled. • Can you think of anything more peaceful and tranquil than green pastures and still waters. God's Word and God's Spirit always brings peace to our hearts. • Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trust in Thee.” • Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.” • He gives ongoing inner rest and peace. B. Restoration
The results of rest and peace is restoration. We are replenished and refreshed. • There is nothing like feeling clean inside with nothing between you and your Lord! • I John 1:9 C. Redirection
Sheep so easily wander away. We stray by sinning, but God brings us back to the right path. There are three reasons we need to have our souls restored. Why do we so quickly lose strength, vitality, and the joy of life? Because of weakness, weariness, and waywardness.
All the way my Savior leads me What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy Who through life has been my guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell; For I know what'ere befall me, Jesus doeth all things well. D. Relief
The Christian life is not always smooth. There are mountain tops, but there are also deep, and sometimes dark valleys, but I have no need to fear because God is with me. E. Refreshment 23:5 God provides life's tableland. The Lord knows how to heal our hurts and bind up our wounds. He rubs the soothing oil of His grace onto the rough spots of life. It doesn't matter what has happened to you or what you've gone through He is going to provide for your needs and bring healing into your life. F. Residence
He promises that goodness and mercy shall follow you all your days. God has promised us an eternal home with Him! A Sunday School teacher was asked to visit a young boy in his class who was dying. The teacher wondered, “What hope can I give him?” The teacher told the boy to use the fingers on his left hand to say Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” The teacher said, “Your ring finger is your finger of assurance.” The Shepherd belongs to you and you belong to the Shepherd,” he said. In the night the little boy died. The parents called to tell the teacher. They said, “There was something strange. He had a death grip on his left ring finger. Do you know why?” He told them. Is the Lord your Shepherd? Some say, “The Lord will be my Shepherd – someday!” They plan to get right with God – Someday! Now, they are too busy or they will have to give up too much or they want to do it later. Would you let Jesus become the Shepherd of your life?
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