Summary: The Shepherd Psalm is so familiar but it is so full of encouragement.
STRENGTH FROM THE SHEPHERD PSALM
Passages That Strengthen Me is a great theme for a series of messages. When we turn to the Scriptures for the strength we can truly find what we need. Everyone in this room has needed to find strength for difficult days.
Ephesians 3:16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Seeking strength from the Lord, we turn to the Shepherd Psalm, Psalm 23.
Sometimes when a passage is very familiar, we tend not to look at it closely. This is one of the most familiar and most beloved passages in Scripture. Tonight I’m using the KJV because no matter what version I’m reading when I come to a passage like this or the Lord’s Prayer, I always hear it in KJV in my head!
Psalm 23: 1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We do not know when in David’s life he composed this Psalm, but it has the wisdom that suggests it was later in life, although it appears early in the Psalter. David learned through his many experiences that his only strength was to be found in God. Tonight we note several areas of strength in this Psalm. David Begins with ‘The Lord Is…”
1. MY SHEPHERD (23:1a The Lord is my shepherd)
Jacob is the first one in the Bible to call God his Shepherd upon his death bed as he blessed Joseph, “God who has been my shepherd all my life, to this very day… (Genesis 48:15)
One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to believe that we do not need a shepherd, a leader, that we can make it on our own. David was an accomplished King, but he still knew he needed the Lord. The idea of God as our Shepherd indicates that … We are like sheep - not exactly complimentary. We tend to wander. We face enemies from which we need protection. We are dependent upon our Shepherd. A great source of strength in our lives is the reality that we have a Lord who is our Shepherd.
Psalm 95:6-7 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.
He is my Shepherd and …
2. MY PROVIDER (23:1b I shall not want.)
We use the word “want” in a different way. Most of us always want something, and it seldom relates to NEED. But this word means “lack”. (“I have all that I need.” NLT)
Everything we really need in life is found in relationship to Our Shepherd. We sometimes forget this and wander in search of something else. Contentment to enjoy and appreciate the care of our Heavenly Father is a quality we need to have in order to find strength in the care of the Shepherd.
2 Corinthians 9:10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
Every good thing we enjoy in our lives is provided by God. Even among the ones of us who have the least, we can say that God has provided for our greatest needs. I find strength for living by trusting my Shepherd and my Provider…
3. MY PEACE (23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.)
Can there be a more serene setting than the one described in this verse? Ancient and Modern Israel is a semiarid climate that experiences little or no rainfall for five months each year. Shepherds lead nomadic lives as they move frequently from place to place in search of suitable grazing for the sheep. So a reader in that climate and place would especially find inspiration and encouragement in these words.
But we don’t have to live in the desert to desire the kind of blessing described here … our lives are seldom serene, often overrun and overcommitted, stressed, plagued by mental fatigue - a quiet peaceful time seems a rarity.
God wants to shepherd us into a more peaceful life.