Summary: starting right
The Pearl of Psalms
If I had to ask you what the most well know passage from the Old Testament was would you be able to tell me? This morning I want to start a mini series through one of the best known passages in all the Bible - many people who never go to church know this passage - and can recite it word for word. I am talking about Psalm 23. I don’t want you to look at Psalm 23 with your old eyes this morning - I invite you to look at it with fresh eyes - looking for fresh truth - hungry for fresh revelation - needing fresh power. You see, I don’t know what your prayer is . . . what you cry out to God for day after day . . . where your sin or your compromise with the world lies - but I do know this. You will find what you need in Psalm 23 - and that is why I believe God wants to use this incredible little passage to radically change your life.
Through this Psalm He wants to release . . .
• strength into your weakness
• light into your darkness
• understanding into your confusion
• comfort into your pain
• courage in your fear
• faith into your doubt
• fulness into your emptiness
• resources into your want
• victory into your failure
Psalm 23 is the real life story of a man very much like you and me - he had godly aspirations in an ungodly world - and you know what that’s like. He was battered by storms and trials on every side, yet he had an inextinguishable desire to live in the victory of God. It is not surprising that Christians through the ages have consistently fled to this passage of Scripture. It expresses the heartfelt cry of every child of God who longs to be more like Jesus. It deals with the ugly reality of sin even in God’s own children. It provides encouragement for the discouraged, upliftment for the down cast, strength to the weak and courage for the fearful. Many thousands of Christians have clung to this psalm on their death beds and untold others have wondered at it’s simple but profound message. It has baffled the minds of the wise and thrilled the hearts of the simple.
This study should change every single person in this congregation. I wish I could get every Christian in Asheville to share the things God wants to reveal to you through this Psalm. This series will change your understanding of God considerably and give you a fresh love for and appreciation of God and for His Word.
Somebody has commented that if Luke 15 (the parable of the lost SHEEP, the lost COIN and the lost SON) is the Pearl of Parables, and Isaiah 53 (which speaks about us all being like sheep and having strayed but God laying on Jesus our iniquities) is the Pearl of Prophecies, then Psalm 23 is the Pearl of Psalms.
If you are looking for a title for the series - that is it -
The Pearl of Psalms
Please turn there in your Bibles. While you are doing that I think you remember that in Palestine there were four primary occupations. There was agriculture (the basis of existence), vine-dressing (supported by the many festivities of the day), fishing (which capitalized on the rich marine environment) and sheep farming which was the past time of the rich and the survival of the poor. Psalm 23 is constructed around this last occupation.
With your Bibles open I want us to read the whole of the psalm aloud together. I am reading from the New American Standard Bible, please read out loud with me.
Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
There is a very real sense in which this verse says all that the psalmist intends to say in the psalm and that the rest of it is simply a commentary on these words. This is the key, the principle statement, axiom, the maxim, the pivot on which the rest of the psalm hangs.
Well, if that is true, then we do well this morning to spending our time trying to understand exactly what it means. There are 4 things I want us to talk about together this morning.
1. THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE LORD EXPRESSED
I want you to notice what the psalmist starts off saying - he says “The Lord is my Shepherd” - where does he start? He starts with God. He does not start with his predicament - he does not start with his problem - he does not start with his pain - he does not start with his pet theology - he starts with God.