Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Almighty Shepherd
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not 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. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23). Among all the Psalms, the twenty-third is the "pet lamb" of the flock to many. In this Psalm we find many aspects of the believers life. I. There is decision v.1. "The Lord is my Shepherd." Sheep are helpless and stupid, they desperately need guidance and assistance. The Psalmist made a personal choice to whom he would follow. A sheep is an object of property. The Lord was David's personal Shepherd. II. There is assurance v.1. "I shall not want." The godless are never satisfied. "My God shall supply all your need." Not only I do not want, but I shall not want. David believed the Shepherd's promise. III. There is rest v.2. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures. Guidance to refreshment comes first. The rest of faith is a rest that is calm and refreshing. "He maketh me to lie down." That rest is found in the center of God's love. The green pastures are found in the center of God's will. His quiet mercies are a means to an end, and that is for me to do His work. "He leadeth me." IV. There is restoration v.3. "He restores my soul." If we stray from His paths of righteousness He is gracious and willing to restore us. God restores the spiritually fatigued. Only Christ can restore the backsliding soul. When the soul is weak, God is strong. When the soul is sorrowful, God revives it, when the soul is sinful, He sanctifies it. V. There is guidance v.3. "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness." The right path is not always the easiest. In Pilgrims progress the pilgrims found it "easy going" down the path which led to the castle of Giant Despair. Why does He "lead us?" "For His Own Names sake." God's reputation in this world is contingent upon how His children walk. VI. There is courage v.4. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." The shadow of death is a dreadful thing to the unbeliever. But there is no evil to fear when the Shepherd is near. We don't walk in the valley but through the valley. Only a shadow, because God has removed its substance, all that remains is the shadow. The shadow of a dog can't bite. VII. There is fellowship v.4. "Thou are with me." The heavenly pilgrim is always in good company. The Lord stands with us when all men forsake us. The presence of God is sufficient at all times. VIII. There is comfort v.4. "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." The club and the crook of the shepherd were the instruments of defense and deliverance. What they were to the sheep, the Word of God is to us. The staff was used to beat off the enemies, and to nudge the sheep along. The Word is a club to give us victory over our enemies. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood." The Word is a crook to guide or lift those who fall into a pit. God both defends and directs the believer. The knowledge that the Shepard has these instruments comforts the flock. IX. There is provision v.5. "Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." The good man has enemies, he would not be like Christ if he didn't. God knows how to feed His flock. We have meat to eat that the world knows nothing about. It was a practice for the winner to feast in front of the striving prisoners of war. There will always be conflict, there will always be a spread table. X. There is anointing v.5. "Thou anoints my head." We need a fresh anointing for every-day duties. This is the anointing of authority and power. We are like Kings and Priests who were anointed. We are a kingdom of priests unto God, and we are anointed by the Holy Spirit. A priest without oil was not qualified for service. XI. There is satisfaction v.5. "My cup runneth over," and flows out to others. The God of grace satisfies. The Spirit filled believer is a satisfied saint (John 7:37-39). XII. There is a great prospect v.6. We will live with God forever, all the day of this life and the next. He is with us on the black days as well as the bright days, and in the mansion that He prepared beyond this life. We won't change our company or the house, we will just go live in the upper story. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.