Summary: A relevant series looking at Psalm 23
July 15, 2012
I heard about a man who hated his wife's cat. He wanted to get rid of it, but she wouldn't let him. Finally, he decided he had enough! So, he put the cat in his car and drove to the other side of town, let the cat out, and drove home with a smile. As he pulled into his driveway, there was the cat walking up the driveway. He couldn’t believe it.
The next day, he put the cat back in the car and drove ten miles away. He let the cat out, then sped back as fast as he could. As he pulled into the driveway, there was the cat yawning and walking in the house.
He was furious! So, the next day he put the cat in the car and drove way out in the country. He drove down some dirt roads with no street signs and found the deepest part of the woods and he dropped the cat off. He was certain he succeeded in his mission.
A few hours later, the man called his wife at home and asked her, "Honey is the cat there?" The wife answered, "Yes, why do you ask?" The furious and frustrated man said, "put her on the phone, I'm lost and I need directions."
Cats can find their way home! Dogs can find their way home, people usually can find their way home, but sheep can’t!
On their own sheep become easily lost. If they turn their head for a moment, or if they lose track of where they are going, they end up going in the wrong direction. Sheep are easily led astray. They're needy, defenseless, and nervous. That's why we have the picture in the New Testament of leaving the 99 to go and get the one who was lost.
Maybe that's why there are so many comparisons to people and sheep in the Bible. We can easily lose our way, and then we need divine intervention from the Good Shepherd to get us back on track.
I remember a Fox sports special on the life of Mike Tyson. During the interview, Tyson said he looks forward to his next life and hopes he will then find joy and peace. Isn’t that a sad statement. Especially, from a man who had it all. I don’t want to wait for the next life, I want to experience it now. Tyson could have been the greatest and wealthiest boxer in history, but now he’s a has-been, trying to make it in Vegas. He believes death will bring him peace. I have bad news for Mike Tyson, unless he comes to meet the Shepherd, his present life will look like a bed of roses.
We’ve been focusing on the most famous of all Psalms, Psalm 23. Last week we finished verse 1. It’s a crucial verse for us to hold onto. Remember, the Lord, my Lord, and your Lord, is our Lord and Shepherd. He is a personal God, who wants to be in relationship with us. He will always be our Shepherd, so long as we are willing to be His sheep.
So today I want to look at verses 2 and 3.
Verse 2 tells us, our Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, He leads us beside quiet waters, He restores our soul.
It sounds great, but what does it really mean?
The shepherd leads his sheep to a lush pasture where they have plenty to eat and their stomachs are full. The sheep are so satisfied, that they don’t have any other desires. The sheep are so content, they lie down in green pastures.
In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller wrote, sheep need 4 things in order to lie down.
1. They have to be full. A hungry sheep stays on their feet searching for another bite of food.
2. They must be unafraid. They will not lie down if they’re fearful. The least suspicion of wolves, bears or loud noises, and they stand - - - ready to flee.
3. They must be content. If flies or fleas are bothering them they will not lie down. They must be comfortable before they’ll lie down.
4. And, sheep will not lie down unless there is harmony in the flock. If there is friction over the butting order, then they simply cannot relax and lie down.
That’s part of the job a the Shepherd. And part of the job of our Shepherd is no different. Once in a while, God makes us lie down, doesn’t He? We rush around, trying to meet this engagement and fulfill that obligation. And in our hurry, we miss the things that are most important. So once in a while God has to say, "You need to lie down." God has many different ways to help us lie down. Sometimes it’s an illness, or heartbreak, or accident, or His Spirit powerfully reminds us, a friend reminds us, we grieve a loss. These and more make us stop and reevaluate our lives.