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Psalm 23

Psalm 23

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Published by Ron Lair
A "sheep's eyeview" of the 23rd Psalms
A "sheep's eyeview" of the 23rd Psalms

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Published by: Ron Lair on Oct 23, 2010
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10/23/2010

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I Have a Shepherd!
Psalms 23
 
In recent study of 2 Chronicles I continually asked the question: “What kind of man is David?” “What makeshim so different from the other people around him?” I think David best answers that question himself in the23
rd
Psalm. But David doesn’t tell us about himself so much as to explain who his God is and the relationshipDavid has with Him. THAT’S the difference! How David sees his Lord and how David sees his relationship toGod.We’re all familiar with the 23
rd
Psalm. We’ve read it over and over. We hear it read often at funerals. We’vecommitted it to memory. There may not be a chapter in the Bible that is so recognized and loved. Since you’reso familiar with it, I doubt that much of what we have to say will be completely new or different. But maybe,we’ll add to the depth of understanding… maybe when you read this Psalm again, you’ll think of it a littledifferently.There’s a very good book out there entitled “A Shepherd Looks at Psalms 23” Phillip Keller used hisbackground raising sheep to shed light on the passage. But, I think more to the point would be a title like “ASheep Looks at Psalm 23” because that’s the perspective that David gives. Yes, David was a shepherd, buthe’s expressing his relationship with his Lord from the vantage point of the sheep.We’re sheep! That’s actually not a very flattering statement. Now days, we probably idealize the way we thinkof sheep. We see them as cute little cuddly, fluffy, loveable little creatures. But really, sheep are just dumblivestock. They are about the most helpless critters. They need to be taken care of. They can’t do much toprotect themselves and they have to be watched all the time or they just get themselves in trouble. For instance, have you ever watched a flock of sheep out in a pasture? They may start out together but one willnotice a nice tuft of grass over there a few feet away and wonder over to eat it… and there’s another… andanother… and before he knows it, he’s off by himself. He was so absorbed in what he was doing that he never even noticed that he was getting away from the flock.That describes us pretty well. If it weren’t for the watch of the faithful shepherd, we’d be in trouble. What didIsaiah have to say about us?
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 
(Isa 53:6)Praise God that I have a shepherd!
The Lord is My Shepherd
Yes, I have a shepherd. That’s a good thing since I’m so much like a sheep. But, I have to assume that not allshepherds are equal. Just like some mechanics are better than others, Some shepherds are better thanothers, right? Well, my shepherd is a good one.. In fact, the best. The LORD is my shepherd! The one takingcare of me, providing for me, protecting me is none other than the Almighty Creator of the Universe.When I say ‘the Lord is my shepherd’, that assumes some things:
 
 
I am totally dependent on my shepherd.
We Americans don’t like to be dependent on anything. That’s how we started out. We fought a war becausewe couldn’t stand to be under someone else. The last thing that I want to admit is that I need help, in any areaof life. I don’t want to have to rely on anyone for anything.But the Lord is my shepherd. If that really is true for me, then I have to deal with my pride and stop trying toportray myself as able to handle whatever comes along. I’m fooling myself. I’m a sheep and there is so much inlife that I don’t have the ability to handle. I’m helpless in many situations. Just like a sheep, I need someone totake care of me. I can’t do it on my own. That’s hard for me to even realize, let alone admit. The Lord is myshepherd. I’m totally dependent on him.
I am owned by my shepherd.
 Sheep aren’t the masters of their domain. They are owned by their shepherd. The shepherd leads them towhere he wants them to go. The sheep don’t get a choice, they don’t make decisions for themselves. As muchas I’d like to convince myself that I’m running the show, it’s not true. The Lord is my shepherd. He is my owner and master.
I have a personal relationship with my shepherd.
 The Lord is MY shepherd. Unlike a real sheep, It’s my decision whether I’m going to be His sheep. It’s apersonal relationship. Just because you’re born a sheep doesn’t mean you have a shepherd. It doesn’t meanyou have the Lord as your shepherd. You have to come into the flock. The Lord is my shepherd, It’s apersonal, loving relationship.
He is My Provider 
My Shepherd takes care of my needs. I used to think
“I shall not want” 
meant something like “shut up andbe happy with what you have” But, that’s not what it means. It means that he provides everything that I ever need. I’ve never had a need that he hasn’t met! David said elsewhere in Psalms 34
“Even young lionssometimes lack food and are hungry, but those who seek the L
ORD
lack no good thing.” 
 (Psa 34:10) I’m taken care of perfectly. I’m lacking for nothing. Even more to the point: HE is all I need. You couldparaphrase it as: I have the Lord as my shepherd. What else could I want? He takes care of my needs. Hegives me lush, green pastures to feed from. He provides cool, calm waters from which to drink.
He Provides Rest
 He causes me to lie down in green pastures. Green pastures are where sheep eat, but that’s not the endof the story. After a sheep gets his belly full, he’ll lie down and chew his cud. It’s a part of the digestionprocess. You see, the eating part, I have a handle on. I’m thankful that the shepherd led me to the greenpastures where I can eat. But, when it comes to fulfilling my appetite, I’m pretty good at that. I canindulge myself fine, thank you. But, like those dumb sheep, I get all wrapped up in consumption.I need to remember that life is more than eating, consuming, and fulfilling my appetites. We need to restand that’s not something that all of us are good at. In this culture especially, rest is a luxury. We’re notgood at it. But, it’s a necessity. We all need to have time to rest, meditate, and recharge. The shepherdis there to remind me… to make me lie down.The “still waters” speaks of rest also. But they also give us another glimpse into how well the shepherdtakes care of us. A sheep needs water to survive the wilderness. One of the shepherd’s main tasks is tofind water. He knows where all the watering holes are located and he maps out the route going betweenone source of water to the other. Some are just that - “water holes” where muddy, brackish water is allthat’s found. It will keep the sheep alive, but it’s not refreshing. Some locations are fast-running rivers.
 
 
There is plenty of water, but it can be dangerous to get at. A sheep can fall into the raging current andbe swept down stream. And a sheep really doesn’t stand much of a chance when he’s in the water.But my shepherd… he leads me besides still waters. He didn’t lead me to whatever water he could find.He made sure I have still waters, a spring-fed pool. I can easily drink the fresh, cool water withoutdanger. Yes, it’s true that we can be spoiled kids that want everything to come easy. But, the other sideof that is that our God is a gracious shepherd who doesn’t want us to settle for less. He works to give usnot only what we need, but he makes sure it’s the best position we can be in.
He Provides Restoration
Rest is something that we need and something that we rarely get enough of. Scripture, particularly theO.T. speaks of rest quite often. It’s maybe the biggest issue that we completely ignore… the concept of Sabbath. We don’t really take it seriously at all. But the shepherd does. He gave us an example byresting after creation. He wrote it into his commandments. He promises rest to his people.Why all the fuss? It seems to be a big deal about a little topic. Rest provides restoration. It’s the only wayto get it. He restores my soul. He makes sure that I’m refreshed, renewed. He provides his word thatrestores my spirit and my fellowship with him.Our Shepherd is providing for us all of the time. Sometimes He uses normal channels. He provides uswith health, opportunity, and abilities that allow us to work for our paychecks. Yet, we can’t forget that itHe who is providing. There are other times when He’s provided for us in more dramatic ways. A jobseems to drop into our laps or an unexpected check in the mail when we were in desperate need.
Can you recount times when God had obviously provided for you? 
He is My Guide
The basic job description of a shepherd is to guide is sheep. He guides them from one watering hole to thenext. He guides them from pasture to pasture. He guides them onto safe paths and away from the briarsand brambles. He’s constantly giving his sheep direction.The Lord is my shepherd and like a good shepherd, he’s always guiding me. Sometimes he leads and all Ihave to do is follow. Sometimes he has to prod me along. But, he’s busy making sure that I’m on the rightpath and am moving in the right direction.My shepherd is always guiding me. I don’t have to stress out over finding God’s will.But, what direction… what road?
“the paths of righteousness.” 
or right paths. A sheep isn’t a very goodnavigator. If he comes to a fork in the road, he has no idea which path to take. But, the shepherd knows.He’s always guiding us onto the right road. There are plenty of paths that aren’t the right paths. They’re fullof danger and hardship. When we listen to the voice of our shepherd, he guides us away from them. Whenwe follow our shepherd’s leading, we stay on the path that leads to green pastures and still waters.But, God’s leading is more than a matter of “right” paths - He leads me in “righteous” paths. His goal for meis to be righteous, honorable, upright. That’s the direction that he leads me in. He has high hopes andexpectations for me and all of his guidance is to achieve that in me.Notice why he leads us… Yes, he loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to avoid the dangers andpain of the wrong paths. But, ultimately it’s not only for us, but For His Namesake. His reputation is at stake.A shepherd is judged by the way he cares for his sheep. It’s wonderful assurance that I can be secure in thefact that He WILL take care of me “for his namesake.”

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