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. 4 - The Sheep
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.
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.
I want to conclude our examination of this powerful and favorite Psalm by talking about the sheep. We have talked about having the perspective of a sheep. We have talked about The Shepherd. We examined the path. But in order for this Psalm to be a reality in our life in large part will be determined by how well we sheep. The truth is we all follow someone. We are designed and formed to look for a leader or a shepherd if you will. The nature of sheep is to follow! But the Psalmist also teaches us that . . .
1. Sheep that follow are followed.
Everything that The Shepherd does in the life of the of the sheep is determined by whether or not the sheep follow. Guide, provide, protect, correct, and connect are all determined by our willing to follow. We established this. However, now the Psalmist goes one step further. Those things are the benefit of following but check this out a sheep that follows is followed. Sheep that are being sheepish should be able to glance over their shoulder and say like the sheep that wrote the Psalm . . . Goodness and mercy follow me. We talked about how we know we are on right path because it produces righteousness. We can also tell we are on right path because of what follows us or comes as a result of our walk - goodness and mercy. We can and others can evaluate just how sheepish we really are by what we leave behind us. What is revealed in your wake? David says goodness and mercy wash up on the shore of his steps. Is that what your coworkers would say about you? Is that what your classmates would testify about you? Is that what your spouse or kids would attest to about you? When we are sheepish we are followed! Look behind you today. I bet if you look closely you will be able to see the times in your life when you were the most sheepish because that part of your path will have residue of goodness and mercy all over it. Look closer at your last few steps do you see goodness and mercy? If not, then adjust your path. Follow closely.
2. Sheepish sheep are confident and conscious.
I also want you to notice how the Psalmist says it . . . Surely goodness and mercy will follow me. It is a statement of fact and confidence. I can be confident and convinced, even when I don't see the scenery I want or like right now, that in the end I will be blessed. Surely because I am favored. Surely because I know the Shepherd. Surely because I have never seen the righteous forsaken. Surely because I trust Him. Doubt if you want but I don't. Question as you look at my current situation but I don't. Like Job's friends step to me and try to get me to curse The Shepherd and die but not me because . . . Surely! See my sickness but I see my surely. See my brokenness but I see my surely.