Summary: We are called sheep, but we tend to get into some wooly situations simply because we aren’t sheepish. It is time to learn to be sheep and to follow The Shepherd.
Pt. 1 - Ewe View
500 times. More than any other animal mentioned in Scripture. So engrained in the mindset and culture of the Bible that they instantly understood and comprehended the meaning associated with the comparison throughout the Old and then into the New Testament. Jesus, the Son of God, the King, the Messiah, is understandable to us as the Lion but to the people of His day the description made sense when He is described as the Lamb of God. The problem is we aren't as familiar with the idea of sheep and shepherds so we struggle to be as sheepish as we should be. And yet, for most of us the text today resonates at such a deep level that it is used at almost every funeral. However, I am convinced that although it resonates deep within us we don't really understand it and therefore we don't apply it to our daily walk and then we find ourselves in some wooly situations. We simply aren't sheepish enough. So over the next few weeks I want us to dive into this passage and learn to be sheepish again.
Text: Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 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 have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The truth is this Psalm really isn't as much about us as it is about the Shepherd. So we will spend some time next week examining the Shepherd. However, I think it is important to start with ewe! Because until we get a ewe view we are unable to function sheepishly!
I want you to notice first the perspective of author. He begins by saying "The Lord is my shepherd!" There can be no doubt that the author absolutely sees himself as a sheep. His focus is rightfully on the shepherd but he could just as easily begun by saying "I am a sheep." Over the years we have spent extensive amounts of time addressing and in some cases attacking perspective. Perspective is paramount and until we have a ewe view our perspective is off. This Psalm begins with perspective.
If we don't see ourselves as sheep, then making it to green pastures is difficult and being overshadowed when in valley of death can't be a reality. The truth is you can find some green on your own, but it just doesn't seem to be as often or as long. The truth is that if you don't see yourself as a sheep you can make it out of the valley of shadow of death, but you will tend to stay there longer and bring some of the death out with you to the other side.
So my simple question to you is this . . . Do you see yourself as a sheep or as the shepherd? Why is that perspective so important? When sheep try to be shepherd we want and then our want leads to our wander. I want to say that again . . . When ewe try to shepherd ewe want and then your want leads to ewe wandering! How many of us have seen sheep wander into trouble, pain, brokenness and when you get to the bottom of it you uncover want was the cause of the wander. I wanted a different person as a spouse. I wanted more than I needed. I wanted out. I want, I want, I want and then I wander. I challenge you to be sheep-ish again. Let the Lord deal with your want!
Not only do sheep need a shepherd ... a shepherd needs sheep. The basic fundamental identity that is essential for us to embrace is that of sheep. We are the sheep of His field. We all seem to be ok with the Lord is OUR shepherd, but this must become personal. Until He becomes MY shepherd, I am not sheepish.
How do we know if we have a ewe view? How do we know the Lord is MY shepherd? We know we have the right perspective and that Jesus is Lord by what He can make us do. Obedience is the validation of Lordship. Not altar time and then I go out and do whatever I want to do. Not worship during singing. Not using the right words. No . . . He is my shepherd when I can say "He makes me". There are way too many of us that Jesus can't make us do anything. He can't make us serve, tithe, use our gift, raise our hands, lay down desires, go against impulses, etc. If He is my shepherd, then His yes is my yes. His no is my no. Even if I don't like it. So many of us reveal that we aren't sheepish because we follow as long as He takes us by green pastures but then when rod and staff come out we refuse to be shepherded. If you are being sheepish, then you will have some "He made me do it" moments.