Summary: Haven, Highway and Happiness. The three H’s of Psalm 23
Field Dalling 23-02-03
We are going to have a baptism later in the service where Kelly is about to make a start on her Christian pilgrimage.
And so I would like, this morning 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”. Psalm 23. Perhaps the best-known passage of the Bible after the Lord’s Prayer.
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. 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 know the Shepherd".
There is so much in the 23rd Psalm, that I couldn’t do justice to it even if I spoke for an hour on it. It’s all right, Joy I am not planning to talk for an hour!!
So I would just like to draw your attention to three aspects this morning, which I hope will spur you to meditate further on the Psalm later on today.
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
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.
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 quiet waters for us to draw strength from.
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?
My 2nd H is the Highway to God Ps. 23:3b-4
2.1 He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
When we come to Jesus as our Shepherd, He shows us the right way to go in life. He directs us on our way to God the Father.
Jesus said in Mt. 7:13 -14
"Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many that go in it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it".
He doesn’t make us go in the right direction but he will call us to go in the right direction – if we will listen to his voice.
2.2 Yea though I walk through the Valley of
the shadow of death I will fear no evil. For you are with me thy rod and staff comfort me.
God’s way is not ALWAYS going to be an easy way. At times it will feel as if you are going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. There are times of Sorrow but Jesus is there with you as you go through it.