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THE SONG OF THE GREAT SHEPHERD
Intro: Psalms 22-24 are precious pieces of Hebrew poetry. In Psalm 22, we have a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd. That Psalm is a clear prophecy of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Psalm 24 portrays the Lord Jesus as the Chief Shepherd. He is pictured as a King coming in power and glory. Sandwiched between these two great Psalms is Psalm 23. This Psalm is one of the most well known and best loved of all the passages in the Bible. Here, Jesus is pictured as the Great Shepherd.
You see, Psalm 22 pictures the death of Jesus for sinners. His death is the event which made it possible for us to be saved, Rev. 1:5; 1 Pet 1:18-19. Psalm 24 pictures the end of the age, when the King Himself will reign in perfect righteousness. On that day, those who have been washed in His blood and saved by His grace will reign with Him, 1 Thes. 4:17. But, between the time we get saved, and the day we go home to heaven, there is a life to live! That is where Psalm 23 comes into play.
In these six precious verses, we are allowed to listen in as one of the Lord’s children lifts his heart in song to honor the Lord he loves. In these verses, David tells us that there is plenty to get excited about when it comes to our Lord and His goodness in our lives. Friends, it isn’t all doom and gloom today! If you know the Great Shepherd, you have plenty to be excited about. Let’s listen in on David’s song today. Let’s listen as one of God’s little sheep sings The Song Of The Great Shepherd.
A. His Name David identifies the object of his love as the LORD.” This is the “Great I AM! This is the God of creation, the God of salvation, the God of eternity, the one and only God!
David calls Him Lord. Some people call Him God. Some people call Him Friend. Some people call Him Father. Some people know Him as Jesus. That is Who David is talking about! This great God has placed His Name all over this Psalm. Notice how He has written His name in bold letters across the very fabric of this Psalm:
1. Jehovah-Rohi – v. 1 – The LORD My Shepherd
2. Jehovah-Jireh – v. 1 – The LORD Will Provider
3. Jehovah-Shalom – v. 2 – The LORD My Peace
4. Jehovah-Raphi – v. 3 – The LORD My Healer
5. Jehovah-Tsidkenu – v. 3 – The LORD My Righteousness
6. Jehovah-Shammah – v. 4 – The LORD Is There
7. Jehovah-Nissi – v. 5 – The LORD Our Banner
8. Jehovah-M’Kaddesh – v. 5 – The LORD My Sanctifier
9. Jehovah-El Elyon – v. 6 – The LORD Most High
B. His Nature Of all the many names of the Lord that David could have magnified, he was led of the Spirit to sing about Jehovah-Rohi; The LORD My Shepherd. Why? Because the image of a shepherd tenderly leading, feeding and caring for his sheep is a perfect picture of our precious Savior’s relationship to His sheep. In fact, the image of Himself as a shepherd was a favorite of the Lord Jesus Christ, John 10:1-30.
I praise the Lord that when I got saved, I got more than a Savior! I also got a Shepherd! I got One Who loves me, tends to me, cares about me, leads me, feeds me, protects me and guides me through this life. When you and I got saved, we met One Who had made us His top priority!
(Note: If you know Him like David did, then you know that He is worthy of our exaltation! Therefore, may the Lord’s sheep never be ashamed to exalt, praise and worship the One Who sought them and brought them in from the wild mountains of sin, Luke 15:4-7.)
II. v. 2-3 WHAT THE SHEEP EXPERIENCES
A. v. 1 He Experiences A Personal Relationship When this Psalm begins, David is writing in the first person. It seems as though he is talking to us about the Shepherd. In doing so, he uses the possessive personal pronoun “my to talk about his relationship to the Shepherd. He did not say “the LORD is a Shepherd.” He did not say “the LORD is our Shepherd. He did not say “the LORD is your Shepherd. Instead, David tells us that he has a personal relationship with the Shepherd! He says “the LORD is my Shepherd! Can you say that today? You need to be able to!
B. v. 2 He Experiences A Precious Relationship David tells us that as a result of this personal relationship, he is confident that the Shepherd will take care of all his needs. He says, “I shall not want. In fact, the rest of this Psalm is the development of that thought. David, the Lord’s little sheep, tells us all the things the Great Shepherd provides for him.)
1. The Tenderness Of The Shepherd David tells us his Shepherd makes him to lie down in green pastures. The Shepherd knows that, unlike goats which will eat weeds and the other trash of this world, the sheep prefer the tender, green grasses. The Shepherd leads them to the places where He knows they will be fed. He makes them lie down because he knows that they cannot properly digest their food unless the lie down. He also knows that sheep will not lie down unless they feel perfectly safe from enemy attack. He knows they need to lie down because their wool grows in thickness and richness in direct proportion to the time they spend resting and ruminating on the green grasses they ingest. With all this in mind, the Shepherd tenderly leads His sheep to the places of greatest safety and nutrition.
What a picture of what the Lord Jesus does for His children! He knows we must feed, He provides the best food for us. He knows we must rest and allows what we have ingested from Him digest properly, if we are to produce the maximum fruit for His glory. Therefore, He leads us into the green pastures of His Word, allows us to graze on the riches contained therein, and shelters us while we rest in the riches of His grace. What a tender Shepherd! He fights of the world so we have time to rest in Him! He tenderly meets our needs! Do you take advantage of that privilege and provision?
2. The Thoughtfulness Of The Shepherd The shepherd leads his sheep beside the still waters because he knows the sheep will not drink from a running stream. You see, sheep have a morbid fear of the water! Why? They are no designed for swimming! With their heavy coats of wool and their little spindly legs, sheep are extremely top heavy. In the water, their wool fills with water and they easily flip over and drown. The sheep know this and shy away from running water. The shepherd knows this and searches out placid pools for them to drink from. If necessary, he will dam up a place in a stream to make them a calm pool of water.
The Great Shepherd also knows that His sheep need the cool waters of His grace to make it through this world. He knows that they need places of stillness where they cam rest and reflect upon Him and His blessings. He cares about the things you are facing in life today, Heb. 4:15, 1 Pet. 5:7. And, He provides a place of rest, peace and safety from them today, Heb. 4:16; Matt. 11:28. Therefore, He provides those places of escape for you and me!
C. v. 3 He Experiences A Profound Relationship
1. The Good Shepherd Provides Life Here is where the relationship between a human shepherd and his sheep, and the Heavenly Shepherd and His sheep move in different directions. The Good Shepherd gives His sheep something no human shepherd could ever provide for his flock: Life!
While the human shepherd provides everything needed by his sheep to maintain life, the fact remain that he receives his sheep after they have life. Jesus, on the other hand, finds His sheep “dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. 2:1. You see, the phrase, “restoreth my soul,” literally means, “to bring back.” The good Shepherd brings back the wayward soul from death into life, John 5:24; Luke 15:4-7. Just a reminder, if you know Jesus, then you have eternal life right now! If you do not know Him, then you are dead in your sins where you sit, 1 John 5:12.
2. The Good Shepherd Provides Leadership - The Good Shepherd always leads His sheep in the right way. Whether His path leads us through the glen, as in verse 2, or into the gorge as in verse 4, He always leads us in the best path of all: His path!
(Note: No one always likes where the path of life leads them, but if they are following the Good Shepherd, they can be assured that He will always lead them in the right path, Psa. 37:23.)
(Note: The word “paths comes from a word that means circuit or orbit. The Lord’s leadership always leads us in a path that causes us to “orbit Him. Just as the bodies in Heaven are subject to the gravitational pull of the sun, those who are in His orbit are kept in a right path about Him at all times!)
III. v. 4-6 WHAT THE SHEEP EXPRESSES
A. v. 4 There Is Praise For The Shepherd’s Power
1. In His Power He Provides Peace Even though the sheep must at times pass through the most frightening and dangerous of places, they travel in peace knowing that their shepherd has everything under his control! That same confidence should dwell in the hearts of each of God’s sheep today! Yes, the path leads through difficult and dangerous places at times. Yes, there are occurrences and events in life that are frightening to our hearts. But, if we know that Jesus, the Great Shepherd is leading us; if we know that He is in absolute control of all of the paths of life, then we can pass through the shadows in peace and security, Psa. 37:23.
By the way, a shadow cannot harm you anyway! What can the shadow of an angry dog do? It cannot bite! What can the shadow of a poisonous snake do? It cannot strike! Shadows cannot harm you and if you walk with Jesus, you are walking in the light, and in the light, there are no shadows! You have His promise of peace as you travel, Phil. 4:7; John 14:27.
2. In His Power He Provides His Presence The presence of the Good Shepherd with His sheep is a theme which permeates the very fabric of this Psalm. From the idea of His leadership in verses 2-3 to His presence in the darkest of times in verse 4, to His intimate activity in verse 5, the Lord is seen in close proximity to His sheep. He is always there to lead them, feed them, protect them and to watch over them at all times. This is the blessed truth that God’s children should rejoice in today, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20.
3. In His Power He Provides His Protection David mentions the implements of the shepherds protection: the rod and the staff. Each of these tools had a very specific purpose in the life of the sheep. The staff was a long pole with a crook near the end. With this implement, the shepherd would correct the sheep, draw them close when they began to wander and lift them out of the crevices into which they might fall.
The rod was much shorter than the staff and was used by the shepherd to protect the sheep from any thing that might try to attack the flock. So too are the born again sheep of the Lord protected by Him both night and day! We enjoy a place of absolute protection with Him, Col. 3:3.
(Note: Our enemy may walk about as a roaring lion looking for victims to devour, 1 Pet. 5:8, but he has been chained and our Father holds the leash!)
B. v. 5 There Is Praise For The Shepherd’s Provisions
1. He Provides Rest Usually a soldier in enemy territory would be forced to gulp down a hasty meal as best he could while he cowered in fear of being discovered, captured or killed. However, the Lord spreads the table for His children right in the middle of the enemy’s territory and all the enemy can do is watch us as we feast on the blessings of the Lord.
(Note: I do not think that we will ever fully grasp this, but there are times in life that seem almost unbearable to us as humans. It is those times when the enemy comes to us and mocks us and to question our determination to follow the Lord. But, through the ministry of the Lord, He is able to turn the worst of times into the greatest of blessings. He leaves us feasting on His grace while the enemy sulks, unable to hinder us, harm us or even touch us! That is how the Lord arranges life for His glory and our good, Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17.)
2. He Provides Remedies When guests visited in a home, they were often anointed with oil to show them how much they meant to their host. It was considered an insult not to wash the feet and anoint the head of your guests. As we move through this life, the Lord takes many opportunities to anoint us with the oil of His grace. His goodness and blessings are all reminders that we are precious in His sight!
(Note: I don’t care what the
devil may have told you, you are precious to the Lord! So precious, in fact, that He sent His Son to
die for you on the cross, John 3:16;
(Note: The idea of anointing oil
also brings to mind the image of a wounded sheep being tenderly mended by a
caring shepherd. How many times have you
been bruised and battered by the knocks, falls and scrapes of life? Hasn’t the Good Shepherd come by with His
healing touch and met you need?
3. He Provides Rejoicing David tells us that the Lords blessings in is life are so great that he has more than he can handle! His cup has passed full and has run over into the saucer!
(Note: That is exactly how the Lord treats His precious children. If you are in a place where He can bless you, then look out, because He certainly will! If some of you were to testify this morning, you could tell us that there have been times when the Lord filled your cup to the overflowing! There have been times when His presence and the reality of His glory was almost more than you could bear! Those are the real blessings of the Lord! Thank God for the times when He fills our cup!)
(Note: Another reason for rejoicing lies in the picture of a cup that has been made to overflow. In those days, when a guest was sitting with his host in the evening drinking, the host would often rise and refill the glasses. If the host came and only filled the glass half full, it was the host’s way of saying, “The evening is over, it is time for you to leave. If, however, the host came by and filled your cup full, he was saying, “I am enjoying your company and I would like for you to stay with me for a while longer. Well, when the Lord filled David’s cup, He caused it to overflow. The Lord was saying, “David, I sure do enjoy your company and I hope you will continue to abide with Me!
Does the Lord ever fill your cup? When He does, He is telling you that He enjoys your company and He is reminding you that He loves you greatly!)
C. v. 6 There Is Praise For The Shepherd’s Promises
1. He Promises Help For Today The pilgrim is assured that goodness and mercy will be his constant companions along the way home. These are the components of grace and remind us that as we travel we will always be blessed with grace sufficient to the need, 2 Cor. 12:9. We need to know that there is nothing in life that we can face that will be greater than His ability to see us through. You see, we are following One Who plans and knows the way we take, Psa. 37:23; Job 23:10. He also goes with us along the way to assure us of safe passage through this violent and harsh land. With Him near, there is nothing to fear!
He Promises Hope For Tomorrow
David concludes this Psalm with a precious reminder that this life down here
will end some day, but that those who know the Lord will move to a new realm to
live for eternity. Some people believe
that David is referring to the Tabernacle in this verse. I like to think that he is looking a little
farther away than that! I think he is
looking forward to a time when he will be in the presence of the Lord is
Heaven. That is the destiny of every
child of God today! (
(Note: If the thought of His grace here and His glory there don’t light your fire, then your wood must be wet! There is something about knowing that He is going to see me through this life and usher me into that glorious, eternal, sinless life in Heaven that just stirs my heart! Thank God our Shepherd knows how to thrill His sheep!)
Conc: Friend, do you know the Great Shepherd today? If you do, then you can sing, with David, The Song Of The Great Shepherd. You know how good and how great He truly is! You know He is worthy of your love, your faith, you praise and your devotion. What a glorious Savior! What a great Shepherd!
Of course, if you do not know him today, then much of what I have said has been foreign to you. However, if you don’t know Him today, and would like to meet Him, you can. If you are tired of wandering lost and alone on the wild hills of sin, then come to Him if He is calling you today! I sure am glad that I know the Shepherd! I want you to know Him too!