Summary: Uses Psalm 23 as the outline for the funeral sermon with life application.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, 3 He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
This Psalm has been an inspiration to millions of people in countless troubles and trials. For centuries the Twenty-Third Psalm has offered spiritual comfort to those who have turned to the Lord in times of trouble. It has endeared itself to the hearts of Bible reading people all over the world because its message of the Shepherd’s gentle care may be applied to so many situations through life.
In this Psalm we read of the Lord making provision for our daily needs, calming our spirits, restoring our souls, leading us in the right way of life, and making His peaceful presence known in the hour of death. It even assures us of a place in God’s home in a time called "forever."
As I thought of what to prepare for (name’s) funeral I thought this Psalm was appropriate for one who has been a Christian for so many years.
No life is exempt from trials. The line from the song seems to be true, "In each life a little rain must fall." But what a comfort to know that God is watching over us as a shepherd watches over his sheep. That He takes note of the pain we must endure. That He cares about the things which trouble us. That He is a shelter in times of storm.
Throughout (his/her) __ years on earth (name) has also had (his/her) portion of care. The verses of this psalm show the Lord as attendant to the things that cause us concern. The "want" spoken of here refers to the things we would otherwise lack, the things we need. The same idea is continued in the line about green pastures. It is the image of a shepherd making certain his sheep are fed. How many times (name) has witnessed God’s supply of (his/her) physical needs?
The references to quiet waters and restoring the soul speak of His care for our spiritual needs. He knows when our minds are troubled, our thoughts are anxious, and spirits are restless. He is aware of the wounded soul. And the Bible says He is there with us in the midst of those storms. (Name) would be the first testify of God’s care for (his/her) spiritual needs. Many times (he/she) has gone to Him for the restoration of (his/her) soul and found Him present to minister to (him/her) spiritually.
The third verse speaks of God leading us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. It shows there is a right and a wrong path. All the Bible tells us of these two separate paths, leading in different directions and ending at different destinations. One is the path of obedience to the will of God and leads to harmony with Him, while the other leads us further away from His will and brings us into conflict with our Maker. The paths of righteousness speak of the one way of pleasing the Lord - finding His will in this life and doing it; discovering His plan for your life and pursuing it. It is avoiding detours, dead ends and wrong turns. It is choosing to follow His leading rather than striking our own way.
The psalmist David describes his walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fearing evil because the Lord was with Him. There are many accounts of those who came to death’s door and were overcome with the torment of fear. And there are many accounts of men and women, boys and girls who came to the time of death and were able to face it with such a strong sense of peace and tranquility that was noticeable to everyone present.
What makes the difference? I believe it is directly related to their relationship with the Lord. Those who know the Savior have no need to fear. For them death is a portal, a means of arriving home. They who know the Savior will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Those who have not trusted the Lord, who have not walked the paths of righteousness death is a tragic and fearful thing.