Summary: A study of Psalm 23
Psalm 23: 1 – 6
Do You Have A Shepherd?
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 4Yea, 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. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23 is a very well known Psalm. Many people are aware of it. Some have it framed and placed on a wall or bookcase in their homes. As you know we live in a industrial society. Some people have still maintained agriculture and animal husbandry as their ways in life. Therefore we city folk miss out on the beauty of this awesome Psalm. So, I want to share with you some of the characteristics of sheep. Then we will close in re-reading the Psalm and hopefully you have a more thorough and appreciative outlook on this Psalm of David.
Throughout Scripture, sinners in general, and God’s people in particular, are described as sheep. Here are some characteristics of sheep and I think you will agree that it is very applicable to us!
Sheep are foolish. Out of all the animals’ sheep are not the brightest light bulbs in the pack. I don’t know what sheep would score in an animal IQ, but I think they would be close to the bottom of the scale. They seem to only know how to do one thing well – eat grass.
It’s possible to know little, yet not be foolish; but not if you are a sheep. A shepherd has to guide his sheep for water but never near a raging water location. They can be very irrational. You watch them as they pause in front of a stream. They know they can’t jump it or swim it. So what do they do? They jump in any way! All they know is that they want to drink some water so off they leap and wind up being swept downstream.
What a shepherd has to do in his care of sheep is to lead them to a brook of running water. The bible calls running water ‘living water’. Here they can drink their fill of fresh flowing water.
Do you know anyone who has made some very serious and foolish decisions?
Sheep do not learn lessons very well. Every shepherd will tell you countless stories about how sheep can be taught a very painful lesson, and yet fail to learn the painful lesson. A sheep may desire to get to grass on the other side of a fence. It winds up getting caught in barbed wire trying to break through the fence. So take a guess what possibly happens the next day. Yep you got it, the sheep will try it again, and again,…
Remember the saying, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. Many people have thought this in their marriages of jobs. I would say from counseling experience of those that most if not all who went this way wound up regretting their decisions.
Sheep are demanding. They are never satisfied. They demand grass, grass, and more grass; day after day, and night after night. And when snow is on the ground, they aggressively demand food from the shepherd. And when their thirsty they let you know it. And many times they bleat even when they are well fed and hydrated. They just like to complain ever if there isn’t anything to complain about?
Have you ever run into someone who is never satisfied or seems to be a complainer or as we sometimes say ‘a whinner’?
Sheep are stubborn. You can plead, beg, or threaten them and will not budge. A shepherd carries around two items – a rod and a staff. These are to protect the sheep and discipline the sheep. You have seen the long staff with the hooked top. This is used to guide the sheep and pull them out of danger.
Have you ever driven on a high mountain that has a tiny railing along a cliff? You and I both know that if your car skidded at the railing that it would not prevent the car from falling off the cliff. Yet in a way it is a protective barrier that helps you focus on staying away from danger. In a similar way the shepherd does this for his sheep. He will place his staff at the side of a steep decline and his sheep will naturally stay away because of his tool.