Summary: The most famous psalm and how it describes a realtionship with God
What does this describe? "The anatomical juxtaposition of two orbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction." Definition of a kiss by Dr. Henry Gibbons (1808 - 1884).
– Language is inadequate to describe relationships - If I asked you to describe your experience of God how would you do it? What are the things you would say God does for you? What metaphors would you use to describe how you relate to God – friend, father? That is the issue I want to address this morning. In the most famous Psalm of all, the most famous poem in the history of the world perhaps, David uses the picture, familiar to him as he had been a shepherd, of a sheep and shepherd. As we look at a few Psalms, which talk about our relationship with God (last time how meditating on God’s Word creates a foundation for a rewarding life), I want us to look at this Psalm, which I don’t remember preaching on before, because it is so famous. Just as language is inadequate, there is a danger in a sermon of spoiling something so profound by dissecting it. So rather than dissect it I want us to allow it to speak to us by asking questions like: What is David saying about his experience of God? How can we have such a close walk?
1. The Lord is my Shepherd
This simple phrase is the Psalm in a nutshell & David sums up his relationship with God. That illustration may or may not be familiar to us but it obviously was to David. Growing up in Wales you see a lot of sheep. The hillsides are dotted with sheep. One thing you soon realise is that sheep are not very bright. Now David is not saying he was very stupid like a sheep. But sheep are very reliant upon shepherds. If they aren’t sheared they can look like this. The 9-year-old wooly wanderer had avoided shepherds and shearers. For six years, he roamed before he was spotted. They don’t attempt to clean themselves like most animals do (they stink). In a dry and stony land (not Wales) they rely on a shepherd to lead them to pasture and water. To protect them from wild animals like, wolves, bears and lions. They are prone to wander and get into all sort of trouble, which means they need leadership, guidance and protection that is probably uppermost. I have never once come across some escaped sheep running across the road here in around Oxford and Abingdon. Yet this happened quite often. It caused mayhem with the traffic. Sometimes accidents happen. One dark evening I knocked over and killed a sheep that had strayed onto the road. David, clearly a very resourceful and talented person, nevertheless felt God was like his shepherd in life.
You could be forgiven for thinking as you read this Psalm that David had an easy life. That it was idyllic. Yet the story of his life shows that he was overlooked as a boy, he was often left to his own devices looking after sheep, his brothers didn’t hold him in high regard, when Saul became jealous of him he spent years a hunted man, living in caves. On at least one occasion his own men talked about stringing him up. His children warred among themselves, some even raped and killed each other. Later in life his own son turned against him, humiliated him and led a rebellion against him, before ending up dead - this broke his heart. On those occasions David wrote Psalms that reflected his mood. But in between these times he could reflect and speak of how God basically took care of him. David was no stranger to stress, worry and anxiety - but with the Lord as Shepherd he had a resilience. So can we….
· Provision – I shall not want – when we know that God is supplying all our needs. What do you need right now, really need, not merely want? Whatever your greatest need is at this moment God is supplying it. You may think that this or that is your need, but the fact is God knows what it is and will & is supplying it. When you were in bed asleep, he is supplying it. We need to have faith in the Lord as our shepherd, that at any given moment we have all that we need. What we will need is being provided. David was conscious of this, are we. Are we lying awake worried about whether the financial need will be provided, the need for a job, the need for a partner, for a home…? Let us remind ourselves “I shall not want”. There have been times when I have worried. I have worried over finding a place to live we could afford – God provided. I worried about how we were going to pay off debt – God is providing. I shall not want, every need will be supplied, believe it!