Summary: A trilogy of sermons based on Psalms 22-24
"THE CROSS, THE CROOK & THE CROWN"
Pt. 2 - The Shepard's Crook
Psalm 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 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.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Introduction: Psalms 22-24 are Messianic in their content and are an appropriate study in light of how close we are to our celebration of the Lord's Passion. Each of these three Psalms has a different focus which we shall explore over the next three weeks. The first is entitled "The Savior's Cross; the second, "The Shepherd's Crook", and the third, The Sovereign's Crown!" What comes to your mind when you think of a shepherd? A hillside with a green pasture, with sheep lazily grazing while a faithful shepherd stands guard over them? That's probably where most of us are this morning. When David composed this psalm he was certainly drawing upon his own experience from the many times he had kept his father Jesse's sheep. The first time we are introduced to him this is his occupation as the prophet Samuel calls for him to be anointed king of Israel while he is still a shepherd boy. For 3,000 years this metaphor of a shepherd and sheep has been a part of the collective consciousness of the Christian church. Untold thousands have drawn comfort from it and it is most likely the first Scripture that most of you can remember from your child hood. But for David this was more than just a reminder of his former occupation, it was much more personal than that; he states that the "...Lord is my shepherd..." It was intensely personal for David as it may be for some of you also. What can we learn about this theme today? First, it needs to be noted that Psalm 23 is not the only time that the Lord is referred to as a shepherd. It is a very powerful theme in the NT as well. Three stand out: Turn with me to
I. THE GOOD SHEPHARD
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
a. The beauty of His character
In the original an article is used before each subject so a literal reading would be "I am the shepherd, the good one." The implications are that there are other shepherds who are not good. He mentions earlier that there are "strangers, thieves and robbers" who come but the sheep will not hear or follow them.
b. The blessings of His conduct
Jesus declares that the good shepherd "lays (giveth) down His life for the sheep" He does this because He cares for the sheep.
John 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
He goes on to say that He does this voluntarily of His own volition. No man takes His life from Him and once He lays it down, He has the power to "take" it up again! (An obvious reference to the resurrection)
John 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Five times Jesus makes it plain that He is voluntarily giving His life "for" (as a substitute) for the sheep. Jesus gives His life so that the sheep can be saved (verse 9) and so He can "bring" all the sheep into the fold, even the "other sheep" of verse 16!
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
ILL - WANDERING OFF
Dr. Andrew Bonar told me how, in the Highlands of Scotland, a sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn't get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can't jump back again, and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint they cannot stand, and then they will put a rope around him, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. "Why don't they go down there when the sheep first gets there?" I asked. "Ah!" He said, "they are so very foolish they would dash right over the precipice and be killed if they did!" And that is the way with men; they won't go back to God till they have no friends and have lost everything. If you are a wanderer I tell you that the Good Shepherd will bring you back the moment you have given up trying to save yourself and are willing to let Him save you His own way.