“Walking with the Shepherd of our Soul”
It has not been my privilege to really be around ______ since he has been an adult. My connection with _________ goes back several years to when _________ attended the children’s program of our church.
Since I really had not been around _______ in quite a few years, I think it would be insensitive of me to suggest that I know exactly how each of you feels today, no one does. You each feel your own loss in your own special way, the loss of a son, a brother, a partner or a friend.
This is very appropriate text in that perhaps there is no scripture that offers more comfort at such a time as this as the 23rd Psalm. The basis of this comfort is found in having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the shepherd of your life.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall no want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Moreover, when 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil: my cup is running over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
The great reformer Martin Luther once said, “Faith is a matter of personal pronouns” in other words, it is one thing to say, “The Lord is a Great Shepherd” and its another to be able to say “the Lord is my Shepherd.” The twenty-third Psalm was written by David the Shepherd King of Israel and is written from the perspective of one who enjoys a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the Lord of their life.
But the LORD being your shepherd requires more than a belief that he exists. The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well! Even the demons believe – and tremble” (James 2:19). It requires that you establish a person relationship with him.
It is my understanding based on what the family has told me and my on recollections that ________ established such a relationship with Jesus as his personal Savior while a part of our children’s program many years ago. I believe that _______ would want you to know that he claimed a personal relationship with Jesus whereby he could say, “The LORD he is my shepherd.”
The question that you must consider today is, “Have you established a relationship with the shepherd?” “Have you turned to Him, admitted you’re a sinner and asked that he save you?”
What ________ formerly believed through faith he now sees by sight. Although he is no longer with us, he is God’s presence at this very moment. The scripture we have read is particularly relevant for us today because of it speaks of help for the trip through the valley of the shadow of death. Death comes to all and to all whom we love. And while having Jesus as our shepherd does not grant immunity from sorrow, it does assure us of His Presence, His Peace and of His Promises. I believe that it would be helpful for us to take a moment and consider each of these.
I. God’s Presence
The psalmist has written, (v. 4) “More-over, when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me: your rod and staff they comfort me.”
It would be wonderful if God could just simply promise us that we would never have to go through any difficult times. But those difficult times will come to each of us. What God does promise is that he will be present with us to help us if we ask.
The “valley of the shadow of death” is literally the valley of the deep shadows. This verse says, literally “moreover” that is – “when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death” – it is when not “if” - it is a certainty. Today may be part of one of the walks though the valley of deep shadows for you, but we are assured that He is there to comfort us if we call upon Him.
Earlier in the Psalm David has spoken of God in the third person “He” makes me lie down, “He” leads me, “He” will refresh me. But when David enters into the valley of the shadow he changes to the second person by saying “you” are with me. Before David had spoke about God but now he is speaking to God.