Summary: How the shepherd protects the sheep
Psalm 23 - Part 3 - 1/30/11
Turn with me this morning to Psalm 23. If you open your bible right in the middle, you probably will land somewhere in the Psalms or just a little right of the Psalms. We are going to continue on looking at this Psalm that has been a source of comfort and blessing to many. This is the Shepherd Psalm - The LORD is my shepherd. He knows us individually, loves us perfectly, provides for our every need. We are compared to sheep - very dumb animals that cannot provide for themselves, cannot protect themselves, and cannot save themselves. We saw in verse 1 the shepherd’s PARTNERSHIP - I belong to Him and He provides for me. The focus is not on Him or on me, but on our relationship together. We saw the idea of CONTENTMENT - I shall not be in want - The Lord takes care of all my needs. I don’t get everything I want - but I am not in want - I have been given everything I need for life and godliness.
In verses 2 & 3 we saw the shepherd’s PRESENCE. We saw a day in the life of the sheep
He makes me lie down in green pastures - REST
He leads me beside quiet waters, - REFRESHMENT
He restores my soul. - RESTORATION - he puts us back up on our feet when we fall flat on our backs
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. - REPLENISHMENT - he takes me to the best areas for feeding and growth. He has my best interests at heart.
In verse 4, we’ll look today at the shepherd’s PROTECTION
Then in verse 5 we’ll see the shepherd’s PROVISION
In verse 6 the shepherd’s PROMISE
As we come to God’s word today, let’s pause for prayer. PRAY.
The LORD is my shepherd . . . Even 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.
Last week we saw a typical day in the life of a sheep. But today we realize that there are some days that are different than other days. Today, we want to look at the shepherd’s protection. It says Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Now the first question that typically comes to our American self-centered minds is Why me? Why do we have to go through the valleys in life? Why can’t we just stay in the green pastures and rest and lie down there? We like living in our comfort zones! It is GREAT when everything is going good in life! Why does God have to let trouble come?
And in answer to that, we need to admit a few things about the valleys in life. First
• Valleys are unavoidable - whether we like it or not, trouble WILL come. Jesus - and He tends to be a reliable source of information - Jesus tells us in John 16:33 - In this world you will have trouble. Count on it - it’s coming! Job 5:7 tells us, man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. Just as surely as the sparks from a fire come up, that surely you can count on it - you will face trouble!
Sometimes Christians like to think that becoming a Christian saves them from a life of trouble. Actually, just the opposite is true. Once you become a Christian you will probably face MORE trouble that you did before. Because Satan wants to give you trouble to make you fall; and Jesus lets you face trouble to make you GROW! But the valleys in life are unavoidable.
• Valleys are impartial - let’s realize that everyone goes through valleys in life. Sometimes we like to throw pity parties for ourselves. We think no one else has it as bad a we do. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows my sorrow. But that’s just not true! Matthew 5:45 - He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Good days and bad days come to us all. & 3rdly
• Valleys are necessary - they are purposeful. We go through the valleys in life for a reason. For the sheep, there is a reason the shepherd takes them through valleys. Here in the text the phrasing reads the valley of the shadow of death. But it is not just talking about dying. We love to read this passage at funerals and think about God being with us in times of death. But this verse is about so much more than just dying.