Summary: A sermon on Psalm 23 based on material from Phillip Keller’s book, "A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm."
The Lord Is My Shepherd Ps. 23
INTRO.: Written by a shepherd, David. Later became leader of the most powerful empire Israel ever had. We see him in the field with his sheep. Perhaps meditating on God’s goodness and care.
He draws upon his knowledge of a shepherd’s relationship with his sheep to describe God’s love and care for His people:
Note verse 2 - He makes me lie down . . .
There were only a few sheep where I grew up, but I don’t remember seeing them lying down, though I’m sure they did. Usually they were on the move either grazing or running. They didn’t lie down very much, as I recall.
Phillip Keller: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23; 1970. He says 4 things are necessary for a flock of sheep to lie down in green pastures. He says the shepherd must make these things happen:
I. Freedom from fear:
A. Sheep are very fearful, easily frightened:
1. A restless, agitated flock never does well.
2. A stray jackrabbit suddenly jumping out can start a stampede.
3. No defense but to run. Very timid.
4. As long as there is any hint of danger, the sheep will always stand ready to flee.
B. If the shepherd enters the pasture, it puts the sheep at ease. They learn he protects them.
1. Awareness of Lord’s Presence quiets the spirit of a Christian.
2. We live in a very uncertain time. Any moment can bring danger, illness, etc.
3. We fear the unknown. He knows all and will see us through. “I will fear no evil...”
4. We fear death the most. “even though I walk through the valley . . .”
5. “Because I live, you also will live.” Jesus in Jn. 14:19
II. Freedom from friction from other sheep:
A. There is rivalry causing tension within a flock:
1. One dominant ewe becomes boss of the flock by butting and shoving others out of her way. She gets the best pasture, bed.
2. Other sheep maintain their position behind her by the same tactics.
3. Because of rivalry, self-assertion in flock, the sheep can’t rest.
4. Must always stand, defend position.
B. When the shepherd came into view, the rivalry stopped as they focused on him. Shepherd’s presence made all the difference
1. Constant competition for status in human society. “Keep up with the Joneses”
2. Office politics, Church politics, etc.
3. We always want to be “top sheep.” We want to “stand up for our rights.”
4. Even happens in the Church.
5. If we turn our attention on Jesus, there will be contentment. Put Him first, not self.
III. Freedom from pests:
A. Sheep have many pest problems, especially in the summer:
1. Nasal flies, bot flies, warble flies, ticks. Much like cattle are bothered by flies.
2. Can’t lie down and rest. Constantly shaking heads, running, hunting shade.
3. Shepherd will apply repellents, dips, provide shelter.
B. There are many “pests” in the Christian life:
1. Annoying people, circumstances, etc
2. Things that “bug” us.
3. Frustrations, disappointments, even doubts, temptations.
4. If we turn these problems over to God thru prayer He will give us rest.
5. His Holy Spirit will bring peace and rest.
IV. Freedom from need to seek food: “green pastures”
A. Many areas where sheep are raised are dry, barren lands.
1. Sheep thrive on shorter grass than cows, horses. Mouths built to cut grass shorter.
2. In lands where sheep are grown, like Palestine, green pastures are rare.
3. Result of hard work. Removing stones, fertilizing, plowing, irrigating.
4. Sheep will not lie down if hungry.
B. Our shepherd provides for our needs:
1. Ps. 37:3. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
2. Pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” Trust Him.
3. Matt. 6:31-33: Seek His Kingdom first.
4. “You prepare a table . . .” Ps. 23:5
CONC.: Jesus is our shepherd. John 10:14-16. He makes it possible for us to lie down in green pastures. He removes fear. He helps us love one another rather than live in self-assertive conflict. He helps us handle pesky issues that would make our lives miserable if not for Him. He meets all our life’s basic needs, including forgiveness, eternal life.
Based on past blessings, we should be able to say, “surely goodness . . .”