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Psalm 23:1-6

The Lord is My Shepherd

  • Shawn Dean
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • December 26, 2021
  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD                                           
Psalm 23:1-6          
December 26, 2021

Very familiar passage this evening.  One of the most precious sections in all the word of God.

Charles Spurgeon called it the pearl of the Psalms…

Probably the most quoted or read passage to those in difficult circumstances including end of life.

This Psalm will keep on going, ministering to your children and to their children until we are all called home to heaven.

During the times we are living, the Psalms are filled with words of praise and encouragement.  Many are anxious and concerned about what lies ahead.

Tonight I want us to understand what makes this Psalm so powerful. Every generation of people love this Psalm. No matter the culture or the circumstances, why has this Psalm made such an impact?

I believe it’s because this Psalm talks about the exquisite love of God for His people – not as a group of Christians, but individually for each of us who call Him Lord.

It is so encouraging to our faith to be reminded just how much He loves us, especially during difficult times. That we really need to trust Him and believe He knows what’s best.

Psalm 23

I intended to get more done…but I’ve decided we will simply study v1 because it’s so powerful.

David provides us with two defining words.

I.  “My” Shepherd

Perhaps the most precious word in the whole Psalm – My – David did not say the Lord is the shepherd of all Israel, or all creatures of the whole earth – He said the Lord is My shepherd.

A relationship that runs through this entire Psalm.

Take a highlighter at home sometime and highlight each place you see a reference to me, mine, I, my….depending on your translation, you’ll find it says this some 16x in our short 6 verse Psalm.

What David is trying to point out to us is not the Lord’s commitment to the world or people in general but to “me” to “you”, singular.

Sense of personal confidence that God is personally concerned that gives this Psalm power. David is saying, He cares for you…He is committed to you and I…

Psalm 56:9, …This I know, that God is for me.

Psalm 118:5-8, From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and put me in an open space. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in people.

If you are one of God’s sheep what He is trying to communicate to you and me in this word “my”, that He loves you and me just like He loved David.  Be settled in that fact in your life tonight.

This Psalm written to convince you that He loves you personally; the Lord is my shepherd.

Important to stop and say the Lord is my shepherd if you are one of His sheep. How do I know that?

A shepherd owned his sheep, they were not wild animals. Valuable personal property often purchased at great expense. He owned it all.  A shepherd would notch their ears a certain way so all would know this sheep belongs to this shepherd.

The Lord is your shepherd.

May I say not everybody alive is one of God’s sheep.  You may question that, but will you believe Jesus Himself on this truth?

John 10:25-28, Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Everybody is His creatures but not His sheep. Remember Matthew 25 – the King separates sheep from the goats, not all are one of His sheep.

So every human doesn’t qualify to have God as shepherd because not all are sheep.

A promise only for His sheep.

John 10:14, I am the good shepherd, and I know My own, and My own know Me,

So many people try to claim the blessings of Psalm 23 even when those promises just don’t belong to them.  It belongs only to His sheep, to those who are born again.

These promises belong to those who have already decided to be one of His sheep – by salvation in Christ, trusting in His blood.

You will know it if you are one of His sheep – you will know because the spirit of God bears witness to that decision you have already made.

So if you’re not sure, make sure tonight.

You can’t claim something that’s not yours – you can’t claim these promises in Psalm 23 unless you have a personal relationship with Christ.

II. Shepherd

Why did David choose this word to describe how God felt about His people?

  • Maybe David was a shepherd himself and he understood this relationship best between a shepherd and his sheep.
  • Maybe he realized this was exactly how God was towards him.
  • Or maybe he was a King and saw shepherds leading their flocks to the fields and he recognized that’s exactly how God cares for him – for us.

David understood the meaning of shepherd.

Everybody in Israel who would read such a story would understand it.

Unfortunately, most in the 21st Century do not understand this imagery.  Very few understand.

Let’s look at shepherds and their relationship.

  1. Shepherd’s take total responsibility for the life of the sheep.
  • Let a sheep go free and it will die – can’t take care of itself – requires constant care.
  • Sheep are not very smart.
  • They have no speed or claws – can’t climb, can’t swim, have a poor sense of direction.
  • If a sheep gets lost it simply lays down – not lassie.
  • Unless a shepherd goes out and finds a lost sheep, it will become a dead sheep.
  • They are easily frightened & often stubborn.

A shepherd has total responsibility for the life of the sheep – all the time – on watch – active duty.

So think about it – our Lord, your shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ has agreed He will take this total, all consuming responsibility for you.

This is the way it is with shepherds.

  1. The welfare of the sheep is directly related to what kind of shepherd they have. Brave, gentle, kind shepherds have prosperous sheep. But cruel and cowardly and selfish shepherds, those sheep die.

No greater reward or joy for a shepherd than to see his sheep content and safe – he is willing to give up all for his sheep.

Remember Luke 2, v8 – – shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch by night…they don’t punch the clock…

John 10:10-11, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.  “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

God has agreed to be a Good Shepherd for you – above all else – He’s concerned about your welfare -willing to give all He has just like the shepherds do for the sheep.

Shepherding is a demanding commitment.

Here’s what Jesus said about an employee caring for the sheep and not a shepherd.

John 10:12-13, He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters the flock. He flees because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep.

When Jesus agreed to take us on as His sheep, He was willing to give His life so that we could prosper – no matter what it cost Him.

  1. A good shepherd learns to build a relationship with the sheep, but a mysterious union happens – a family – a shepherd and his sheep.

Quote: FW Robertson, the famous English preacher in the 19th Century; said this about shepherds – –

“beneath the burning skies and the clear starry nights of Palestine, their grows up between the shepherd and his sheep a union of attachment and tenderness, a sort of friendship, alone in those vast solitudes with no other human beings around, the shepherd and the sheep feel a life that is in common. Between them there is woven by day and by night, by summer suns and by winter frost, a living network, their beings mingled together, they feel each other until it is accomplished that the shepherd knows his sheep and is known by them.”

A closeness that does not exist between a farmer and his cows or a rancher and his horses – it’s not the same – a  working union that makes them family.

God agrees to allow this to those who call Him Lord, but the rest of the world will never know Him in this life – to come in and explore Him – vulnerable, exposes His promises and takes the risk that we might hurt Him. 

We do hurt Him sometimes don’t we?

How many times does the Bible talk about, we grieved the heart of God.  Only happens because He opens Himself up to the sheep.  That’s what it means to be a shepherd.

Ever heard of the movie, Platoon – a 1986 war movie about Vietnam…

God could have protected Himself from us.

But what matters more to God than Himself is us.  He says come unto me.  I’m going to love you even though you will hurt me. Come, let’s do this thing together.

So when David spoke those words, The Lord is my shepherd – can’t you see what he was saying – God as our shepherd takes total responsibility for you and I – He agreed to put His life on the line for your welfare.

When I became a parent, a father, I had no idea what I was getting into.  How many parents do?  Honestly, when you had the first one, did you really have any idea what you were getting yourself into?

  • I think few knew what they were getting into – I think if we would have really known, we would have been scared to do it. I’m glad God didn’t tell me ahead of time…I love being a dad – but being one was a lot of plain hard work – but it was all worth it.

When the Lord Jesus agrees to be your shepherd, He did not come into it like we did as parents – He knew exactly what He was getting Himself into – every single detail.

  • Jesus took responsibility for my life and willing to let me, as undependable as I am, into the very heart of God. He knew and He wasn’t scared away.

Walk away tonight knowing that when God got into being your shepherd, he got into it with His eyes wide open…and He did it anyway – because He loved you and me.

The bible says when Jesus saw the multitudes, they were faint and scattered like sheep without a shepherd.

We are sheep – faint, helpless, fearful & stubborn at times –

  • God did not come to you and say, would you like to be a sheep or a tiger?
  • We ARE God could have let us go and wonder about – he could have made that choice, but He decided of His own freewill to be our shepherd.

The richness of what God wants to communicate to us is incredible. Everyday this week I want you to dwell on the rest of Psalm 23 – the remaining 5 verses.

Psalm 23:2-6, He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For the sake of His name.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

6 Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life, And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever.

  • Lord, I’m going out here into this world like a sheep, but Lord I’m not going out without a shepherd, you’re going right with me.

1 The Lord is my shepherd,
I will not be in need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside [a]quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the [b]paths of righteousness
For the sake of His name.

Even though I walk through the [c]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no [d]evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You [e]have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
[f]Certainly goodness and [g]faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life,
And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord [h]forever.

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