SBS Sermon Notes Note 03/09
This, without a doubt, is one of the most popular psalms in the Bible.
One that has been memorised, recited and sung by millions of believers
through the ages. In this sermon we will examine the psalm's keywords
which provide answers to the five basic questions analysts love to ask:
who, where, why, when and how? We will then end our study by rejoicing with
the psalmist in verse 6 as we examine and even share his conclusions.
Before we go any further let me remind you all of a great spiritual fact,
which some of you will already know. It is this. In order to teach mankind
the deep spiritual realities about Himself, the Kingdom of Heaven and man's
place in the universe, the Creator ordained that mankind be employed in
certain occupations: such as agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry,
wine-making, pottery etc. Each of these basic occupations, which can still
be found in every country, is a living object lesson of a great
spiritual reality which you must recognise if you want to live a fulfilling
life. In Psalm 23 we see one of these 'living object lessons' where the
psalmist compares himself to a sheep and the Almighty God to a shepherd.
Who is the Psalmist writing and singing about? Who is involved in this song?
||The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Two persons are involved here: the LORD (Yahweh is His name) and I. Note
that Yahweh is not merely referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. But He is 'my Shepherd' and all that the word 'my' implies. He looks
after me. I am His. I belong to Him. I may not be as good as other sheep who
belong to other shepherds. That is not the point being made here. The point
being made is: the LORD is 'my' Shepherd.
This verse tells us who the key characters are in the psalm: Yahweh and I.
Of course that can mean Yahweh and you.
Where does my Shepherd take me? The answer is plain to see.
||He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside
the still waters.
Notice where my Shepherd leads me. He leads me to places of nourishment,
refreshment and peace described as green pastures and still waters.
To be sure I would often love to run off and imagine that I could find better
pastures elsewhere. But from experience I have found that the pastures He leads to
are always 'green.' The waters He leads to are always 'still.' Also notice that
little word 'the' still waters. This implies that there is only one
place where the waters are still. There are not many places of still
waters - but only one place; hence the definite article 'the.'
The good Shepherd does not lead me for no apparent reason. He has a very
good reason in mind. It is, for His Name's sake.
||He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness |
(Why?) for His Name's sake.
His reputation, His character, His love, kindness, mercy and law have been
ignored, slandered, rediculed, blasphemed and set aside for generations. The Most High
intends to put the record straight. He leads each believer - as far as we
will allow Him - with the prime purpose of accomplishing that goal: to clear
His holy name. But He does not do this for personal gain; but that the
universe might understand the Truth about His perfect character: because
failure to recognise the Truth will most certainly lead to death. Therefore
to clear His name will result in people believing in Him: and that will
result in life-everlasting for them! That is why the Good Shepherd leads each one of us in the
pathway of righteousness - to help clear His Name, His Character, His Reputation. He does this so that others will believe Him and be saved. That is His ultimate goal, His sacred objective.
The rewards we believers will receive for walking in the path of
obedience are beyond the reckoning of the present human mind.
The Good Shepherd does not promise an easy walk. Hard times will often come
to every sheep in the flock. But through it all we have the greatest
assurance ever to be granted a believer - thou art with me.
||Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me.
This is not simply a testimony of a bygone experience; not the nostalgic
ramblings about the good old days. This verse is written in the present
tense - thou 'art' with me. Yahweh is with me right now - at this
very moment. The LORD is my Shepherd. He is with me - at this very moment! See sermon Our Greatest Asset.
||Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Yahweh has plans for all His sheep which no believer can remotely imagine.
This verse tells of how the sheep/shepherd relationship is dramatically
changed. The psalmist is no longer a humble sheep eating grass in the
pasture. He now finds himself sitting at the table of honour with a brimming
cup in his hand. Yes, life in the Kingdom of Heaven at Yahweh's table will be
glorious beyond imagination: as different as eating grass is to dining at a
Here, again in the present tense, we see Yahweh preparest a table, catering for His people. That little phrase my cup runneth over
describes the generosity of the Most High. He not only meets our spiritual
needs; but His supplies come in great abundance - over and above all our
requirements. My cup runneth over. Let me explain this verse further.
A believer may suffer physical hardship and deprivation. He or she may often
wonder where the Shepherd is, especially as life's problems get worse. But
we must not despair: because Yahweh is near, "He is with us." If He does not
immediately remove a believer's burden, He always has a very good reason for
not doing so. But He does supply the spiritual support that is necessary to
bear that burden. This spiritual support is metaphorically described as
"feasting in the presence of mine enemies" or having one's head
"anointed with oil." It is ever present. It is the kind of spiritual
nourishment which abounds in the midst of trouble, much to the wonder and
frustration of one's enemies. In other words Yahweh may allow hardship,
persecution, sickness, starvation, loneliness etc., to come a believer's way.
But He will always provide a counter-supply of spiritual resources to
sustain the believer's soul. He may not remove the enemy; but you can be sure
that if He is with you, you will feast before the enemy's eyes. What's more
your cup of blessing will overflow. Can you say: My cup runneth over?
||Here is faith at its shining best, inspiring, setting a good example to
others and gladdening the heart of God. What a beautiful word is that word
|goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
||This tells of Yahweh's true character. He is good and He is merciful.
These beautiful qualities are everlasting: and they ensure our forgiveness
and survival. The Most High radiates goodness and mercy, more than any in
the entire universe.
|and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
||This is the heritage of all who believe. This promise encompasses eternity
Notice how the Psalmist starts as a sheep being led in green pastures; but
finishes at the Shepherd's table - as a guest in His house! In other words, in the
hereafter believers will live in the house of the good Shepherd (Jesus). Our
journey from the sheepfold to the palace will then be over. Unimaginable and
eternal delights await each and every believer in the Most high.
7. Lost Sheep
Sad to say not everyone can sing this psalm and mean it: for many are
'lost sheep.' They have wandered away from the good Shepherd and are shivering,
hungry and frightened on the cliffs of life. Perhaps you are one of them - a
lost sheep. Did you know that the good Shepherd is looking for you? It will
help a great deal if you were to cry out for help and make your needs
known. Cry to Him for help: for forgiveness, for direction, for assistance:
cry today. My dear friend the good Shepherd is looking for you. Call for help
today. He will surely answer your call.
||What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?|
5: And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6: And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
|| I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Yes, the good Shepherd died to win eternal life for you. Do not spurn him.
Instead, be like the psalmist and say
The LORD is MY Shepherd and I am one of His sheep.
day I will feast at His table and dwell in His house - forever!
SBS Sermon Notes More sermons on the Psalms
Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
Placed on Internet Dec.1995 ... Updated with KJV references July 1999