Summary: Part 1 of the Good Shepherd Series on Psalm 23.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD – Part 1
First Baptist Church of Tawas City Michigan
Rev. Bruce A. Shields
• Psalm 23
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4Yea, 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.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
This last weekend Terri and I were in Ohio at her mothers.
She owns quite a bit of property, and we camped on top of one of the highest hills. I’m not sure what the difference between a hill and the beginning of a mountain is, but this is probably close.
• From this peak you can see for miles to the east and north.
About 400 feet or so below us is the pasture where the cows and pigs are.
I woke the first morning before the sun was up and built a fire.
I sat in a chair and watched the sliver of a moon slowly disappear as the sun came up.
I couldn’t help but think of God’s greatness.
• On the way to Terri’s mothers, we saw quite few fields with sheep.
I often wonder why there doesn’t seem to be a need for Shepard’s today?
Perhaps it’s because there isn’t a threat, or they are protected because of the fences.
3,000 years ago it was a different story though.
Psalm 23 is one of the most recognized passages in the Bible; many can even quote it word for word.
Most of us learned it as children and it continues to be a comfort to those who are dying, or those who have lost loved ones.
I think it’s so well loved because it’s so personal.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where tending sheep is not the high demand job it once was.
So, most of us probably don’t even know a Shepherd.
Because of this, we may lose a little bit of the meaning that David intended when he wrote these words.
This morning, some of what I will be sharing with you concerning the life of a shepherd has come from a book by Phillip Keller entitled A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.
Phillip grew up and lived in East Africa where he was surrounded by sheep herders similar to those in the Middle East.
As a young man he spent eight years of his own life as a sheep owner and rancher, so the insights that he is able to bring into the subject will, I think, help us understand what David probably felt as he wrote these words, The Lord is my Shepherd.
1. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
As you know, David himself was a shepherd. He was known as the “Shepherd King” of Israel. But he saw the Lord, God of Israel, as his Shepherd.
He speaks in the Psalm as if he was one of the flock, one of the sheep. And it is as though he boasted aloud, “Look who my Shepherd is – my owner – The Lord!”
Because David knew from first hand experience that the lot of any particular sheep depends on the type of man who owns it.
Under one man, sheep might struggle, starve and suffer endless hardships. But those same sheep under another Shepherd, they may flourish and thrive contentedly.
He chose us, He bought us, He calls us by name, He makes us his own and He delights in taking care of us.
This last aspect is really what this Psalm is all about.
How the Lord takes care of us. So David continues by saying, “I shall not want.”
The idea here is the Lord supplies our every need.
In his book, I Shall Not Want by Robert T. Ketchum, Ketchum tells a story of a Sunday school teacher who asked her class if anyone could quote the entire twenty-third Psalm.
A child stood, faced the class and said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.”
Although she overlooked a few verses there, I believe that she captured David’s heart in Psalm 23.
The Idea is that we are utterly contented in the Shepherd’s care and there is nothing else we desire.
Notice here that our Lord supplies our every NEED, not our every want.