Psalm 23: Follow the Shepherd
Hands up if you know my name? And what do I do? What am I called? ‘Pastor’ means ‘Shepherd’. We have several pastors at Christ Church. Our Home Group Leaders and Sunday Club leaders are part-time pastors or shepherds. These are our full time shepherds. That is why they are called ‘Pastors’
Where does the idea come from? In Psalm 23 David calls God his ‘Shepherd’. In John 10 Jesus calls himself the ‘Good Shepherd’. He called some of his followers to be shepherds of his flock to help others come to know Jesus, follow Jesus and become like Jesus. Do you trust me? Really trust me? Let’s find out. Who wants to be a sheep? Who wants to follow the shepherd?
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)
When we trust Jesus as our shepherd he meets our deepest needs. We won’t want anything. Lets say it together. “I shall not be in want” Your parents will be pleased if you mean it! If you give your ‘wants’ to Jesus he will show you whether they are needs or not.
1. The Lord Provides for You
The first observation we can make is that the Lord will provide for our needs. Verse 2,
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:2)
Sheep are afraid of moving water in case they drown. Here’s some quiet water and green pastures. Do you trust me to help you lie down? When Jesus is our shepherd, he gives us peace and rest because he is with us. The Lord provides. The 2nd great truth we learn
2. The Lord will Protect you
“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:3-4)
Lets put these shades on. The picture is better. We are going to walk through the darkest valley. Are you afraid? Don’t be, because I will guide you with my rod and staff. Notice that in the first three verses David talks about the Lord as ‘my shepherd’. But when he encounters difficulty, he talks to his shepherd directly. “I will fear no evil for you are with me.” The ultimate one becomes the intimate one. We can do the same with Jesus. When I am going through a dark valley I don’t want to talk about Jesus, I want to talk to Jesus. Jesus said,
“My sheep listen to my voice, they follow me, I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28).
How do we hear Jesus voice? As we read God’s word, he speaks to us and guides us. The Holy Spirit who is with us, applies the Bible to our lives. David goes on to say,
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5)
I think we will skip the overflowing cup but because of the carpets. But here is a table I prepared earlier. Who would like to try some? Do you trust me? How about some oil on the head? Great for dry skin and hair. In Palestine olive oil is made into soap and shampoo. What have we discovered about the Lord so far? The Lord provides for us. The Lord protects us. David ends this beautiful psalm with the 3rd truth,
3. The Lord will Preserve You
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
We meet on Sundays and during the week to help each other follow Jesus. One day we will be together with Jesus for ever. So every Sunday is a practice, a foretaste of heaven. In Psalm 23 we learn David recognized the Lord has his Shepherd: David was able to say: “I lack nothing” because the Lord will provide (23:1-3). “I will fear no evil” because the Lord will protect (23:4-5). “I will dwell forever” because the Lord will preserve (23:6).
Jesus makes the same promises in John 10. “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) Jesus provides for us personally, individually, uniquely. He knows us. Jesus provides. “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).
Jesus also preserves us. “No one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Jesus protects us. There’s a famous song that begins, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Don't look at the shadows. When you're walking through the valley, look at the light.
Psalm 34:19 says "The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them.”
If we went around the church asking what kind of week each of us has had we would observe that Christians have disappointments. Christians get sick. Christians experience tragedies. Christians lose loved ones. Christians have financial problems. God's people have family problems. Believers go through dark valleys just like everybody else. But there is a difference and it's a big difference. The difference for the Christian is not the absence of the shadows but the presence of the Shepherd. God is with you.
David called the Lord Jesus, “My Shepherd”. Is Jesus your Lord and Shepherd? For a few minutes you pretended to be my sheep. But for real, Jesus wants to be your Shepherd. Do you want him to be? Are you willing to follow Jesus? Even into the unknown? If you are, or if you do, you can know that he will never leave you. He forgives our sin, washes us clean, gives us his Holy Spirit, a purpose in life on earth and eternal life in heaven. It cost him his life to do it.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).
That is why Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He Provides. He Preserves. He Protects. Lets pray.
“Dear Lord Jesus, some of us here have received you as our Lord and Saviour – our Shepherd. Some here don’t yet know you as their Lord and Saviour. Some want to know you and some are not sure. Forgive our sin. Come into our lives as Lord and Saviour. Help us each one of us today, to hear your voice more clearly, to follow you more nearly and learn to love you more dearly, today, tomorrow and every day.”