Summary: The 3 H’s of Psalm 23
Apparently, in the American Church today is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”.
I would therefore like, this evening to have a look at one of the Psalms that has been a fantastic source of strength to many Christians.
It is known as the “Shepherd’s Psalm”. Of course I am talking about Psalm 23. Perhaps the best known passage of the Bible after the Lord’s prayer.
Story: Some years ago a famous actor was giving an after dinner speech. He asked his audience if there was any famous poem that they would like him to recite. There was a silence.
Eventually an old vicar raised his hand and said: "Psalm 23 please."
The actor agreed, on one condition: that the
clergyman should also recite the Psalm after he had finished. The clergyman reluctantly agreed.
The actor recited the 23rd Psalm and received
a tumultuous applause.
The clergyman then recited Psalm 23 and there was not a dry eye in the place.
At the end, the actor stood up and said:
"Do you know the difference between my version of the 23rd Psalm and his? I know the psalm but this man knows the Shepherd".
Story: A visitor to California’s Yosemite National Park once asked a ranger: ”What would you do if you only had only one day to see the Yosemite National Park”
The ranger replied “Weep, because there is so much you won’t see in a day!”
I suppose if you told most preachers that they only have 10 minutes to preach on Psalm 23 they too would weep
Because there is so much to see in the 23rd Psalm, that you can’t do justice to it even in an hour.
So I would just like to draw your attention to three aspects of the psalm this morning, which I hope will spur you to meditate further on the Psalm.
I would like to refer to these aspects as the three "H" ’s of Psalm 23.
These three H’s are:
1. Haven of God. Ps 23:1-3a
2. Highway to God Ps. 23:3b-4
3. Happiness with God Ps. 23:5-6
Jesus, the Good Shepherd
1. provides a safe haven for us in the storms of the world around us
2. shows us the highway to God the Father and
3. is interested in our happiness.
I would like to make some very brief reflections on each of these H’s.
My first H is Haven of God - Ps 23:1-3a
Psalm 23 opens with the familiar words:
1.1 "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want"
So who is our Shepherd?
Jesus said (in John 10:11)
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep."
At Easter we were reminded how Jesus died for us - his sheep - to reconcile us with God. He gave his life of his sheep.
The Psalm reminds us that when we come to Jesus as our Shepherd, we can trust him totally.
Story: When Maddy, my wife and I were living in East Yorkshire, our next door neighbour, Verity kept - and still does keep - sheep.
When I used to go down to our barn, I tried to try and call the sheep in her field over to me. I’d coax them, I’d whistle but to know avail.
When Verity came down however, they would rush to her just at the sound of her footsteps.
The Sheep knew their Shepherd.
So it is with us, we need to know the Good Shepherd.
1.2 He makes us to lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters He restores my soul
As a society, we have lost touch with the agrarian society of David’s day (almost 4000 years ago!).
Story: There was a survey done a few years ago. Urban children were asked where milk came from. The most popular answer was from milk bottles - they had no idea that milk came from cows!!
Sheep feed best in green pastures. The better the grass, the better the fleece of the sheep and the better the quality of lamb meat.
Sheep are also notoriously finicky animals. They will not drink from running water. The Shepherd has to bring them to still waters to drink.
Jesus our Good Shepherd provides for all our needs - the food and drink that we need. And a place of quiet
Story: When I was working for a firm of patent agents in the Strand, I used to enjoy going down over lunchtime to the Catholic Church in Kingsway to get away from the pressures of the job. For me that church was the still waters where I could get my soul refreshed during the bustle of the working day
Do we have that place - where we can pull away from the bustle of the day - to have our soul restored?