Summary: The LORD our Shepherd is also our Good Shepherd.
Our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd
© 2007, Sterling C. Franklin,
Though free for use.
Part One: The LORD is Our Shepherd
1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
I. Verse 1
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
A. Shepherd: Guiding imagery
B. Or ‘I shall not be in want’
1. God’s Provision
2. This is at the very least spiritual blessing as in verse 6, though verse 6 seems to be a furtherance of the earthly provisions that God provides for us.
3. Matthew 6 – Jesus promises that the Father clothes the lilies and knows the rise and fall of sparrows, and if we seek first His Kingdom, then we should not worry since He will take care of us.
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
II. Verse 2
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
A. Green pastures: Good grazing areas.
B. Still waters: Not rushing – not dangerous.
Illustration: Sheep were not good swimmers, and it would be easy for sheep to be carried away with the current in a tumultuous river. The LORD brings us to drink from rivers that will satisfy our thirst and that will not carry us off into danger.
Application: The LORD brings us to places of provision that are far from danger. He even brings us to places in which we can rest and lie down, though there is always the danger of a potential attack. Our Shepherd protects us from danger, and He is the author of refreshment and rest.
III. Verse 3
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
A. Or ‘He brings my soul back’
1. As we will see in verse 4, the Shepherd does not hold his staff and rod in vain. He keeps us on the right path by using His shepherd’s crook to restore us to the fold when we begin to wander.
2. There is a clear rejuvenation theme in this statement, as in verse 2, He brings us to grazing grounds and drinking areas, which also rejuvenates us.
B. God gets the glory out of us living more righteously. He does not keep us on the way of righteousness so that we can boast in our own self-righteousness. God both deserves and gets the glory as we walk in righteousness.
C. The path of righteousness can be paralleled to the narrow path that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount:
13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Application: Stay on the narrow path of righteousness. Our Shepherd will guide us through it and keep us on the path, but we have to be a part of the flock walking in the right direction in order for that to effectively happen!
IV. Verse 4
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.
A. Literally, ‘Valley of deep shadows’ – the worst of times and events.
Application: Even in the worst of times, we are under the care of the Shepherd of our souls, and thus, as David states, “I will fear no evil.”
B. Rod: Correction
C. Staff: Guidance
Application: The LORD brings us through the messiest of situations in life. He often will carry us through a miserable event. He corrects us through chastisement (cf. Hebrews 12). He guides us through the witness of the Holy Spirit, through Scripture, through the affirmation of others, etc. In all of this, He brings us comfort.