Summary: Part 9 in a series on the life of David
Insights from the Life of David - Part 10:
"The Lord Is My Shepherd"
Over the past ten weeks we’ve been studying the most intricate details of the man David’s life. We’ve looked at both the positive points and the failures along his journey and today we’re going to study one of the best-known passages in the entire Bible, a passage that isn’t just about David, but was actually written by David himself. Most of us learned it as children and it continues to be a comfort to those who are dying. It’s so well loved because it brings words of assurance to those who have lost a loved one and for that reason it is almost always used at a funeral service. And maybe it’s so well loved because it’s so personal and individual. It applies to us. Its words bring comfort and confidence to us in our struggles, in our trials, in our moments of despair. It’s the 23rd Psalm.
This morning as we wrap up our study of the life of David I want us to look at this Psalm as a roadmap if you will for our lives. You see, this Psalm points to a journey that each and everyone of us should be on; a journey which will lead us to the life Jesus promised us in John 10 when he said, “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.”
The fact is most Christians believe that the ticket to eternity is Jesus Christ, and rightfully so. But what so many of us fail to realize is that Christ came not only to give us new life in heaven, but to give us abundant life on this earth as well. And what breaks my heart is the fact that I don’t need to go out into the community to find those who are not experiencing that abundant life. I don’t need to go out into the world to find those who have never experienced what David was talking about when he wrote the 23rd Psalm. It’s all around me in the church. There are those of us who have never really comprehended what this abundant life is all about, who even though we would call Jesus our shepherd are no different than those outside of the church. There are those of us who even though we claim Jesus Christ as the One who brought forgiveness to our lives live no differently than those who have never met Christ.
Most of you know me well enough by this point to know that my passion in life and ministry is to help others understand that there’s more to this life. There’s more than just living and dying or trying to make it through another day. There’s freedom, there’s wholeness, there’s completion, there’s peace, there’s healing and there’s joy that can only be gained through one person. Jesus put it this way, “I am the good shepherd…I am the gate for the sheep…Those who come in through me will be saved.”
The Good Shepherd? The Gate for the Sheep? To us those words don’t make an awful lot of sense because we live in a society where tending sheep is not your ordinary occupation. And while the words of the 23rd Psalm sound comforting, few people really understand what they mean.
This morning I want to take a look at the 23rd Psalm because I believe in it is a short biography if you will of the life of David. If you were to ask David to sum everything up in a few short sentences I think the 23rd Psalm would be the words he’d choose. They’re words that tell us how we can experience abundance and become, like David, men and women after God’s own heart.”
Let us pray…
In order to understand this passage we’ve got to have a basic understating of sheep and shepherds. From the research I did this week I discovered some very interesting things about the life of Middle Eastern Shepherds and their sheep. And what I discovered lead me to understand this piece of scripture in three different areas. You see a shepherd understood that sheep could not remain in the same location year round and expect to be healthy sheep. They had to be on the move. They had to do so not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of the land as well otherwise it would be exhausted of its minerals and nutrients. During the winter the sheep would stay on the ranch. But when spring came the shepherd would begin a journey with his sheep which would lead them through passes following the receding snow line toward higher ground. And for the summer months the sheep would enjoy the beauty and abundance of the mountaintops where vegetation was rich and the sheep would thrive until the time came for them to return to the ranch again for the following winter. You see a sheep’s life was a journey. It was a journey marked by change, by new direction, by uncertainty, by fear, by danger, and yet by great abundance.