Summary: In this 4-part sermon series, we are exploring what it means for each of us to walk with our shepherd.
There is probably no doubt that Psalm 23 is one of the best-known and best-loved portions of the Bible. The Psalm is a word picture of the relationship between a sheep and His Shepherd. This analogy of God-as-a-Shepherd would have clearly resonated with the nomadic and rural culture of King David¡¦s say.
Have you ever wondered what Psalm 23 would have sounded like had it not been written by the Shepherd-King of Jerusalem, but rather¡ let’s say by a computer geek Pastor of Tioga County. I have found this version of Psalm 23 which is entitled Cyber Psalm. And I made a few modifications for you today. Perhaps this is what Psalm 23 would sound like if it were written in our techno-age:
The Lord is my programmer, I shall not crash.
He installed his software on the hard disk of my heart; all of His commands are user-friendly.
His directory guides me to the right choices for His name’s sake. Even though I scroll through the problems of life, I will fear no VIRUS, for He is my ANTIVIRUS. His FIREWALL protects me. He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies. His help is only AN INSTANT MESSAGE away. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and my file will be BACKED-UP and saved forever. Amen. (Cyber Psalm, taken with ADAPTIONS from Bits & Pieces on The Biblical Studies Foundation Web Site. URL: http://bible.org/docs/pastor/bits/bits-23.htm)
The Lord is my programmer? I know what you’re thinking¡ thank God Psalm 23 was written by the Shepherd-King of Israel and not by a computer-geek Pastor from the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania!
And you’d be right in thanking God for that! Psalm 23 is one of the best-known psalms for a reason! Although there are probably numerous reasons, I can think of three off the top of my head.
Psalm 23 is one of the best-known because:
1. It is memorable because it is beautiful Hebrew POETRY.
a. In contrast to English poetry, which is based upon meter and rhyme, Hebrew poetry is based on meter and repetition. Repetitive sounds and thoughts are often the key to unlocking the main idea in a Hebrew poem.
b. In a good Hebrew poem (of which, there are many of in the Psalms and also in the Prophets) out of this repetition, there often emerges a pattern that helps to emphasis the author¡¦s key thought.
c. In your bulletin, I have given each of you a PSALM 23: PROMISE CARD FOR 2004. I am going to have more to say about the back side a little later on. But, for now, looking at the front side, you see what is most likely the overall pattern for Psalm 23: (Taken from the notes of Pastor John Gillett and Professor Kenneth Bailey.)
With that repeating of thought, we are able to focus our thoughts on the center of the Psalm: I will not fear! Why, because the Psalmist declare: YOU ARE WITH ME!
2. It is memorable because it employs a simple but profound ANALOGY.
2. It is memorable because it provides COMFORT for the grieving and the living.
It will remind us of our PLACE in 2004.
If Christ is your Shepherd, then¡K WHAT DOES THAT MAKE US? If we are SHEEP, then what will be different about the way you will live in the New Year?
It will remind us of our PURPOSE in 2004.
It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It¡¦s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose. (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life)
Psalm 23 is a great psalm for any year because it reminds us of WHO God is.
-- The Shepherd is our PROVIDER (Ps 23:1-3a)
--> Key question for 2004: Will I trust God’s provision in my life?
-- The Shepherd is our PRESENCE (Ps. 23:3b-4)
--> Key question for 2004: Will I seek God’s presence in my life?
-- The Shepherd is our PORTION (Ps. 23:5-6; cf. Ps. 73:26)
--> Key Question for 2004: Will I be satisfied with God’s portion in my life?
I want to end with a short fable about a Shakespearean actor who was known everywhere for his one-man show of readings and recitations from the classics. He would always end his performance with a dramatic reading of Psalm 23. Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want¡ the crowd would listen attentively. And then, at the conclusion of the psalm, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the actor’s incredible ability to bring the verse to life.