Summary: This is the fourth message in a series that takes a fresh look at the twenty-third Psalm. This message examines the leadership provided by the shepherd.
How many of you have ever played “Simon Says?” As you know, “Simon Says” is a more detailed version of the game “Follow the Leader.” The object of the game is to listen closely to the instructions given by the leader to make sure that you can stay in the game. Most of us can remember playing this game in some form or another as children. In fact, as we look at our lives as adults we may believe that we no longer play these games. We have grown up, we are capable of thinking for ourselves and we are capable of determining what we should do. Think about it for a second, “Is this really true?” Look carefully, as the culture goes so goes popular opinion. As popular opinion goes so often go we. If the truth be known we are engaged in a very sophisticated game of “Follow the Leader” that has a direct bearing on our thoughts and values. Isaiah was definitely right when he described people as “sheep who have gone astray.” The fact is that we need to be led because by nature we tend to be followers. With this being true then logic should tell us that we need to be careful when choosing what shepherd to follow. In our text, David describes the direction that the Lord leads us as our Shepherd. So let’s take some time today to discover what paths the Shepherd has called us to travel.
I. God as the Good Shepherd leads us.
A. By nature sheep our creatures of habit and need to be constantly led to thrive.
1. Sheep are very much creatures of habit and if they are not moved they were continue to graze an area down to the bare dirt.
2. Not only is this damaging to the land it is bad for the sheep because the nutrients are stripped from the pasture.
3. To counteract this, the shepherd must play close attention to the pasture and keep his sheep on the move so that no particular area is over grazed.
4. Poorly managed flocks of sheep can turn lush green pastures into desolate wastelands.
5. A good shepherd has a predetermined plan that he follows to protect both the land and his sheep.
B. Ancient shepherds committed themselves to the task of leading and guiding their sheep.
1. As we have learned throughout this series, being a shepherd is not a 9-5 job. In fact, it requires a 24-7 commitment.
2. Sheep have poor eyesight, do not have the ability to think strategically, have no situational awareness and lack the ability to look out for themselves.
3. Ancient shepherds understood that they needed to be out in front of the sheep leading and guiding them.
a. Where the shepherd led the sheep would follow.
b. When the shepherd stopped the sheep would stop.
c. If the shepherd would jump off a cliff the sheep would as well.
4. David knew well that if he had not been there for his sheep they would not have survived out in the wilderness.
5. A good shepherd must be totally committed to providing his sheep with daily guidance and care.
C. God knows that if we are to be safe and healthy we must be led.
1. Jesus illustrated this truth many times in His teachings.
2. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:2-4—NIV 2011)
3. We lack the ability to make all the proper choices and chart our own course through this life.
4. As the Good Shepherd the Lord goes before us showing us the paths to successfully navigate through life.
5. We are sheep and we need the Shepherd. Just has a shepherd knows the land well; the Lord knows life and how to properly lead us.
II. God leads His sheep along particular paths.
A. A good shepherd will constantly keep his sheep on the move.
1. Like sheep, if left in the same place we will become complacent. If this happens we will develop habits that will stunt our spiritual growth.
2. This translates to us getting to the point where we begin to freely exercise our own wills instead of seeking and following God’s.
3. God realizes that our spiritual well being requires us to be constantly led down the path that leads to holiness.
4. To travel any other paths but the ones that God has mapped out is to settle for less than the best. God desires the best for each of us.