Summary: A sermon on Psalm 23
"Psalm 23--A life of faith"
I would like to read the 23rd Psalm from the RSV since this is one of the more familiar versions of this glorious Psalm:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me,
Thou preparest a table before be in the presence of my enemies; thou annointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." (RSV)
This beautiful poem has to be one of the all time favorite Bible verses. Have you ever thought about the person who wrote this poem and why he wrote it? Most of the psalms have been attributed to David, but regardless of the authorship, have you wondered why it was written and when?
As you think through the words of this poem, picture in your mind the settings described, think of the situations it speaks to? Was this written by a young man beginning life, or an older man in the autumn of life, reviewing all that had happened to him? Does this man have faith and belief in this God who was like a shepherd to him? Sure he does!! This is a poem written by a man in the waning years of his life recalling his faith in a God who was like a good shepherd to him.
Picture the author by a cool mountain stream, laying in the grass, the sun shining bright, the birds chirping, the flies and bees buzzing around and he is thinking about his life, his life in the arms and strong hands of God. As he lies there, a shepherd comes with his flock and he watches the shepherd lead his flock to the cool water, he watches the shepherd clear away the poisonous weeds, he watches as the shepherd kills the snakes, he watches as the shepherd strokes the sheep, and looks for sores and hurts. Then he thinks to himself, yes, this is the way my life has been in the hands of God. He has cared for me, he has watched over me, he has given me everything I need or will ever need. He has cared for me as a shepherd cares for his flock.
So he thinks and writes,
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul."
As he watches the shepherd, he thinks of all the places he has been, all the things he has done, and he thinks about God’s hand in all of this. As he watches the shepherd lead his flock through the pasture to find rest for the night, as he thinks about the path the shepherd and flock came on, the winding path up the side of the mountain, he thinks about the path of his life. He thinks about God as his guide, his shepherd, the one who gave meaning and purpose to his life. He thinks back upon all that has happened in his life, and he concludes that God’s guiding hand has lead him along the paths of righteousness or virtue, or salvation, whatever word you want to use to describe a life which was lead by the hand of God.
He thinks about this and he settles back into the grass with a contented look and a sense of peace within. He knows and he believes God has been with him all through life. God has led, he has followed. He thinks: "I might not have seen the hand of God so clearly as a youth, and in my young adult years, it was easy to loose sight of God with all the business of life, and in my middle years, in the less busy and hectic times, I have had the freedom to reflect upon my life and to see clearly the guiding hand of God."
He thinks and writes:
"He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake."
Can you relate to this poet? Have you ever wondered about the meaning and direction of your life? Is God leading you? Can you see God’s guiding hand of salvation in your life?
Maybe we are like the man in the following:
"A man wanted to find direction and meaning to life. He was told to go and visit a hermit high in the mountains. After climbing to the home of the hermit, he was given a flask and told to go fill it in the stream and through that action his life would have a sense of direction and purpose. The man rushed to the stream, but for some reason the water would not flow into the flask. His pride kept him from going back to the hermit to seek more advise and to admit his failure.