Summary: A Lord’s Supper Devotional
THE SUPPER AND THE SHEPHERD PSALM
INTRO: There is a vast ignorance of the Bible, even among church folk. One fellow thought Dan and Beersheba were brother and sister. Our entering college students do not know their Bible. Sixty percent cannot name the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Ninety-six percent of them cannot write the Ten Commandments. The professor thought one girl had written them correctly. A careful reading, however, had the Seventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not admit adultery.”
Psalm 23 is simple, yet profound. Almost everyone knows it from memory, yet there are spiritual riches there still untapped.
With a little imagination we can see David as he wrote this psalm. It was a cool night with a star-filled sky. The day with its grazing and search for water was over. The sheep were huddled in sleep. But the shepherd kept a watchful eye.
The campfire embers were fanned by the night breeze and glowed red. Listen. Did you hear it? It was the ancient sound of a shepherd̓s flute, followed by a melodic Hebrew song. David̓s heart fairly burst with the joy of God̓s presence. His feelings overflowed in a psalm.
Who would have thought that psalm of simple trust would be the subject of worship in a church service — three thousand years later. David̓s psalm is a personal affirmation of faith. Psalm 23 is a bridge over troubled waters, which leads from anguish to triumph. It promises God̓s presence in both good times and bad times. Note that the psalm shows us—
I. GOD IS OUR SHEPHERD (vv. 1—4).
“The Lord is my shepherd” is a reminder that God provides for our needs. We are his flock — the company of the God-led.
ILLUS: Many ancient people thought of their king as the shepherd of the nation. As an example, Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s inner sarcophagus is a golden representation of the king with his hands across his chest. One hand holds a flail or whip, symbol of authority. The other hand holds a shepherd̓s crook, symbol of his benevolent role as the shepherd of Egypt.
David called the Lord his shepherd. To call God “my shepherd” means “I shall not want.” God provides “green pastures” (no easy task in Palestine) and “still waters” (the shepherd would place a small dam across a wadi [ravine] to catch rainwater and form a pool). Jesus taught us to pray for “our daily bread.” God not only provides our material needs, but he “restores my soul” as well. He answers the believer’s deepest spiritual need.
David also sang of Yahweh, “He leadeth me.” We do believe in providence and divine guidance. Otherwise our life would be nothing.
To say the Lord is my Shepherd also means I shall not fear, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” How can a man face the king of terrors without ultimate fear? In the knowledge that “Thou art with me.” The shepherd’s rod and staff were a comfort to the sheep. The psalm also declares —
II. THE LORD IS OUR HOST (vv. 5—6).
The Lord is my host, and I am his guest. In verses 1-4, the psalmist said, “I walk” with my shepherd. In verses 5—6 he says, “I dwell” in his presence.
The psalmist begins by referring to God in the third person — “He leadeth me” (vv. 1-4). Then he shifts to the second person (vv. 5-6). You cannot use the second person of someone unless he is present.
The metaphor shifts from shepherd and sheep to host and guest.
Note the gracious hospitality of God as host. In the presence of God the psalmist was safe even from his enemies. Our enemies are temptations to cheat and be lazy and unkind.
God is generous — “My cup is overflowing abundance” or as the Jerusalem Bible translates the verse: “my cup brims over.” God can be extravagant in his blessings to us — consider your good health, family, friends, plenty, and the beauty all about you.
There is no other place as blessed as God̓s presence. The Hebrew literally translated reads, “Goodness and mercy will pursue me.” God is no reluctant deity. He is anxious to bless his children.
The psalm reaches its climax with the phrase, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord, for ever.” This passage was used for centuries in Jewish worship. However, it has also been interpreted by Christians as a reference to heaven. To be where God is, will be enough.
Jesus knew and loved the twenty-third Psalm. Indeed, he applied it to himself (John 10:11). Jesus is both the shepherd and the Lamb of God, our sacrifice. That is radical. David would never have thought of that — yet it is true.
Tell me, who is your shepherd? Is it the Lord?
Here at the Lord̓s table we celebrate his protection and care. As we prepare to continue our worship, remember the hymn: “The King of Love, My Shepherd Is.”