Summary: In this passage, our Psalmist writes from the perspective of a sheep that is happy that His Shepherd cares about him.
Intro: What a wonderful Shepherd we have.
What a privilege it is to be part of His flock.
In our passage we see the psalmist writing as if he were one of the sheep in the Good Shepherd's flock.
Recognizing the virtue and value of his Shepherd, he now wants everyone to know just how good He is.
Let us examine how the sheep see his Shepherd.
What does this sheep see?
1. That The Good Shepherd Provides for His Sheep (1-3).
A. In verse 1, sheep need cared for at all times. Sheep are defenseless against most of their enemies and even the natural challenges of heat and cold can claim a sheep if the shepherd is not mindful of their needs. With this in mind, the sheep proclaims, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (lack)." What is it that the shepherd does that allows the sheep to say this?
B. In verse 2, sheep will not eat or rest until the conditions are right. Sheep require peaceful surroundings and plenty to eat. Sheep also, need still or standing water or they won't drink. Here the sheep tells us that the Shepherd "...maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Since the conditions are right, the sheep does not lack for food and water.
C. In verse 3, the sheep remembers the Shepherd's care when he was down. From time to time, a sheep may encounter terrain that is angled and the sheep may fall down. The way the sheep's body is made causes him to land upon his back, unable to regain his footing, and making him easy prey for predators. The Shepherd comes during this vulnerable time and picks the sheep up and places it on it's feet (restoration). As the sheep says, "He restoreth my soul." Also, the Shepherd leads the sheep to safety by finding the safest path for them to go from one field to another. As the sheep says, "...he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Yes, I believe the Shepherd provides everything that the growing sheep requires.
2. That The Good Shepherd Protects His Sheep (4).
A. In verse 4, the sheep is well aware that there are dangers surrounding him. There are predators ready to harm him, there is the possibility he may fall down a cliff or get trapped in a deep chasm. The sheep, though, is not fearful, for he knows that his Shepherd has his best interest at heart.
B. As the sheep tell us, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; I will fear no evil." The sheep will continue to share, that he knows that the Shepherd is always keeping a watchful eye over him, and that the Shepherd will take care of him at all times. Notice the sheep tells us, "...for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
C. The Good Shepherd is focused on the safety and security of His sheep. At times, the Shepherd may even have to discipline the sheep to keep him from getting into jams. A lamb that is disobedient and unwilling to follow the Shepherd, may have to be disciplined. The Shepherd will take His rod, and literally break the lamb's leg, set it, and will carry the lamb until the leg has healed. Once the healing has taken place, the lamb is released, but it will follow the Shepherd always, knowing His protective care is constantly revealed.
3. That The Good Shepherd Prepares His Sheep (5-6).
A. In verse 5, the sheep have to learn good from evil, their friends from their enemies. The Shepherd therefore cares for them, knowing that at any moment a predator may try to attack them. As the sheep eat, sleep, and play, the Shepherd watches over them to keep their enemies away. The sheep says, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." Further, the Shepherd cares about the health of the sheep. Pests, insects, and even bacteria will try to live within the wool on the sheep. The sheep says, "...thou anointest my head with oil." which means the Shepherd would apply oil or ointment to keep the pests out of the sheep's wool. Since the Shepherd is so good to him, the sheep feeling unworthy of such a Shepherd proclaims, "my cup runneth over." Recognizing just how blessed he is, the sheep cannot feel anything but great joy.
B. In verse 6, knowing that the Shepherd will never abandon him, the sheep says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." The Good Shepherd is preparing the sheep for what lies ahead. Wherever the Good Shepherd is, the sheep knows he will be with Him.