Summary: A message about how God meets our needs.
The Lord’s My Shepherd, That’s All I Need
Rev. R.I. Williams of Fairmont Park Methodist Church in Norfolk, VA called the newspaper office with his sermon title: “The Lord is my Shepherd” he told the paper. “Is that all?” he was asked. “That’s enough!” he answered. And sure enough, the paper printed his sermon title as “The Lord is My Shepherd, and that’s enough!” As simple as the little song, Jesus Loves Me, the opening phrase of Psalm 23 boils it all down to one basic concept—the Lord is my shepherd, and that’s all I need.
It is pure speculation to try to figure out exactly WHEN Psalm 23 was written. It could have been when Saul was chasing David and his men trying to kill them. They are hiding in the caves by the Dead Sea at En-gedi (according to I Samuel 23:29). Saul discovers David’s camp and comes to try to kill the man who is more popular than the king—ever since David killed Goliath. You can just imagine Saul’s men in their armor marching around—swords and shields glistening in the desert sunlight. David is bunkered down in a cave, afraid that even one falling rock could give away his hiding place. And then he sees walking across the valley in front of his cave a shepherd and his sheep. A sense of peace and calm comes over David as he is reminded of the years of tending his father’s sheep. He is also reminded of God’s care and protection over him, so he writes…”The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
“The Lord is my shepherd.” Think about what this phrase is telling us.
1. It is a statement of decision. I have decided that Jehovah God will be my shepherd. I have tried other shepherds, but they just don’t measure up. I have tried psychology and philosophy but it doesn’t provide answers. I have tried career to drive my life, but it does not provide protection. I have tried popularity, but it doesn’t last. I have tried friends and family, but they need a shepherd as much as I do. So I have decided that Jehovah will be my shepherd—because when I trust Him, I have everything that I need.
In the same way, I have tried other ways to get to heaven, but I have decided to follow Jesus. Some of you have tried other churches, but they tell you that you need to work your way into heaven, and you’re never ever sure that you have done enough good stuff to make God happy. You may have tried other religions, but their founder is still dead. You may have tried other theological systems but they are so confusing. So we have decided that Jesus will be our shepherd, and we will allow Him to make us into something that He is happy with. I’ll trust that His blood sacrifice on the Cross will pay for my sins—that’s faith…saying “The Lord is My Shepherd” is a step of faith…and that is a decision I make because I believe it is true.
The Lord is my shepherd is a statement of decision.
2. The Lord is my shepherd is also a statement of submission. David was used to being a shepherd. But at this moment of crisis, he would have to learn to be a sheep. He was used to being in charge; he was used to getting his way; he was used to trusting his own instincts and expertise. Now he was going to have to learn to be a sheep. Sheep are totally dependent. They can’t swim, because the wool weighs them down and their hoofs don’t act like flippers very well. Their teeth are not going to hurt if they bite you. Sheep have no sense of direction and wander away all the time. They cannot cleanse themselves like a dog or cat. They have no claws to defend themselves. And they can’t run away from predators. They cannot tell the difference between good food and poisonous weeds, so they need a shepherd to guide them to the right food. And sheep scare easily. They are timid, they are easily frightened.
In the same way, we all need to get to the point of saying, I need a shepherd. My life is easily upset. I am easily frightened. I cannot keep myself clean. I cannot defend myself. I really need someone to watch over me.
Someday, when you are overwhelmed with how complicated life gets, or how desperate or hopeless your situation gets…someday, you will need to get to the point of saying, “The Lord is my shepherd—I NEED a shepherd.” It is a statement of humility to admit we are as helpless as a sheep. Saying “The Lord is My Shepherd” is a statement of submission.