Summary: In the 23rd Psalm we see the Shepherd’s CHARACTER, the Shepherd’s COMPASSION, and the Shepherd’s COMFORT.
In this Psalm trilogy, Psalms 22-24 present a wonderful view of our Savior. In the twenty-second Psalm, we witness the redeeming work of our Suffering Servant. In this Psalm, we experience the love and care of a Good Shepherd. In the twenty-fourth Psalm, we will rejoice in the finished work of our Glorious Savior! But today, let’s examine what God’s Word has in store for us.
A Psalm of David.
THE LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;
He leads 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 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 anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Introduction – A third grade Sunday school teacher asked her class to memorize the 23rd Psalm. Nearly everyone had memorized and quoted it except for Dustin. He worked and worked on it determined to recite it for the teacher. Finally, one Sunday morning Dustin told his teacher he was ready to quote Psalm 23. As he stood before the class and teacher he nervously said, “The LORD is my shepherd…and that’s all I need to know.”
In reading this Psalm, we really don’t need to know much except the Shepherd! It is all about the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep! In the Old Testament, the sheep were always giving their lives for the sins of the people. But here we see the Shepherd who has already paid the price. As we examine this great 22nd Psalm, notice three things about this shepherd in verses one through six. We see the Shepherd’s CHARACTER, the Shepherd’s COMPASSION, and the Shepherd’s COMFORT.
Let’s look first at the Shepherd’s CHARACTER in verse one.
It is here that everything hinges upon this first verse. This verse is the key to understanding the following verses. God’s character is revealed to all of us. He allowed His Son to die in our place that we could have a relationship with Him. So, it all begins with His NAME. The LORD, as recorded by David, is the personal name of God. His name is YHWH. It is the unpronounceable name. According to Thomas Newberry the name YHWH is a derivative of the three Hebrew tenses of ‘to be’. He states that Yehi means ‘He will be’ which is a future tense. Hove means ‘being’ or ‘He is’ and is a present tense. Then Hayah (Ah) means ‘He was’ which is a past tense. This describes God as the One who is, who was and who is to be. The LORD is the Eternal, Timeless and Self-Sufficient One! What is really outstanding about this is the word ‘is’. He is not JUST the God of the past or future. But He is the God of the eternal present! This is how we know that He loves us and desires a loving relationship with us. We can place our trust in Him.
ILLUSTRATION - Minister & girl on airplane
A minister was on a Trans-Atlantic flight when the flight encountered some violent turbulence. Through the great confusion and panic it brought, a minister noticed one little 5 year old girl who remained calm and composed through the ordeal. After the plane landed and as people were leaving the plane, the minister asked the little girl how she could stay so calm when many of the adults were terrified by the turbulence. Her response was, "Oh, I didn’t worry because my daddy is the pilot and he always gets me home safe!"
How much we should be like the little girl that we always know that our Father is the One who has carried His children through every concievable difficulty that life can throw at you. He is the Almighty God who was and is and always ’gonna’ be!
Then we discover His NATURE. We find that He is our shepherd. A shepherd in those days had a difficult job. They had to watch over and care for dim-witted animals. It was a twenty-four hour a day job with few, if any, breaks. The shepherd had to be caring, diligent and tireless. He really had to love about his profession. Although shepherds during Jesus’ time were considered uncultured and dangerous, they had a loyalty to their flocks. The sheep knew and trusted their shepherd. They listened and responded to his voice. He would be willing to give his life for his sheep. Because of His character, we can state with confidence that we are content. Content in Him and the direction He leads. Because He loves us and we belong to Him, the Shepherd makes His mark. Every sheep had a mark of ownership placed on him. The shepherd would take his sharp knife and notch the ear of his sheep so he could recognize it from a distance. Shepherds did not brand their sheep. They notched their ears. God has placed His seal or mark only on His sheep.