Summary: Message celebrating the wonders of our great Shepherd.
“The Great Shepherd of My Soul”
This is probably one of the most quoted and memorized passages of the Bible next to John 3:16. It can be found on funeral brochures all around the world. It is deeply personal. It addresses every aspect of one’s life. It affirms God as our loving shepherd.
I. The great shepherd
A. “The LORD is my SHEPHERD.”
The very first phrase sets the tone for the entire Psalm. David of all people would be intimately familiar with the role of a shepherd. One who tends and cares for all the basic needs of his sheep. One who takes responsibility for the growth and welfare of his sheep.
One who protects, leads and feeds his sheep.
If God is the shepherd that makes us…SHEEP. What a fitting analogy for humans! So much about sheep fits how we act. Sheep are helpless without a shepherd. They easily wander off. They destroy pasture land.
B. “The LORD is my shepherd”
There are good shepherds and not so good shepherds. Zechariah (11:15-17) spoke of worthless shepherds who failed to care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken or sustain the healthy. David rejoiced in the fact that his shepherd was none other than the Eternal God. David affirmed that the LORD was his shepherd. The one watching over us is of utmost importance. Where we turn for comfort and look for provision and protection makes a difference. The object of our faith is more important than the amount.
The character and ability of our shepherd is essential. Last week we learned that we serve a God who is aware, available and able. The shepherd of the true sheep is the none other than the LORD himself – Yahweh. This Great Shepherd is Self-existent, Unchangeable, Self-sufficient, Eternal, Incomprehensible, Omnipresent – available, Omniscient – aware, Omnipotent – able. This Good Shepherd is continually Faithful, Gracious, Merciful, Longsuffering, Loving. This Pure Shepherd is perfectly Holy, Righteous or just, Jealous, Truthful, Angry at evil, Sovereign. David recognized the magnificence of the one he called shepherd
C. “The LORD IS my shepherd.”
David realized God’s continual and ever present shepherding. Not was or will be, but the LORD IS right now my shepherd.
D. “The LORD is MY shepherd.”
David understood the personal nature of relationship with God. Not just the shepherd of Israel as a people, but also my personal shepherd. David expressed a personal understanding of intimacy between him and the shepherd. He wasn’t just one woolly among a flock of woolies. The shepherd and the lamb enjoyed a very intimate personal relationship. Even though there is a vast difference between man and beast, the Middle Eastern shepherds cultivated a personal close relationship with each of the sheep of his flock. There would be talk and touch most every day between shepherd and sheep. Even though there is a vast difference between God and his creation, God continually cultivates a personal close relationship with each individual person. He knows us intimately.
He knows what we need more than we do. The result of having God as our shepherd…
“I do not want”
In one simple stroke David expresses the ultimate result of having Yahweh as our shepherd. I am content with the presence, provision and protection of my shepherd. I need nothing more than what the shepherd provides. Out of his great love and wisdom, this marvelous shepherd provides every essential need. Paul testified to the Philippians concerning the secret to contentment in whatever circumstance of life. It was the realization that the presence of Christ enabled him to face anything.
David did not mean that there weren’t things he might like to have. He meant that he could be content with whatever God provided because he trusted Him. He followed this simple yet grand declaration of contentment with God as his shepherd with ten examples of the Great Shepherd’s provision. Is He your shepherd? Are you a member of His flock? The benefits that follow are only for genuine sheep of His flock. The world promises to shepherd us. Satan promises to shepherd us. Only one can follow through on what He promises.
II. The Great Shepherd’s PROVISION
A. “He makes me lie down in green pastures”
He addresses my need for rest and nourishment. The shepherd skillfully seeks out proper pastures for the sheep to graze. Not only was it important to have enough food but a place to relax, ruminate and properly process the food. Eating in a state of unrest and anxiety interferes with digestion. Our shepherd insists on rest and proper nourishment. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Jesus is the bread of life coming down from the heaven to give life to men.