Series: Guest Preachers

The LORD is My Shepherd

May 12, 2024 | Ron Zeigler

Passage: Psalms 23:1-3

ALL SERMONS IN SERIES

Summary 

In Psalm 23, David describes the reality that Yahweh, the One true and living God, revealed in Jesus Christ, is the Shepherd of His blessed people. He is our Creator and He is our Sustainer. He provides all that is needed for His people, "His sheep", in this world and in the next. He is the One who enables us to be at peace with ourselves, with Him and with others. Out of this relationship in Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd, we are useful in His perfect care to be His lovely instruments in showing His love and speaking His truth to our world.

Transcript

“Every day of your life you can find reasons to complain and every day of your life you will have reasons to be thankful. These two themes, complaint, and gratitude, pull at the heart of each of us. They form fundamentally different ways of viewing the world because they are rooted in fundamentally different ways of viewing yourself. “Every day of your life you can find reasons to complain and every day of your life you will have reasons to be thankful. These two themes, complaint, and gratitude, pull at the heart of each of us. They form fundamentally different ways of viewing the world because they are rooted in fundamentally different ways of viewing yourself.  What is your default language? Do you find it easier to complain than to give thanks? Is grumbling the regular noise of your existence? Are you easily irritated and quickly impatient? Do mundane things get under your skin? Would the people who live nearest you characterize you as a thankful person or a complaining person? Do you look at your world and find yourself blown away at the many reasons you have every day to give thanks? Do you see yourself as one who has been showered with blessings? Are you humbled by the myriad of things in your life that you regularly enjoy, but you could never argue you deserve? How often do you whisper thanks to God or communicate thanks to those around you? Paul David Tripp, July 22, “New Morning Mercies” 

This well known and beloved Psalm 23 is a precious prayer of a man in whom God has truly worked His divine way into his heart and mind.  David has been described as a man after God’s own heart, yet he did not always follow in that path. At various times he sought his own way and desired his own will be done before and above the perfect will of God Almighty. This is a prayer of a man who is clearly thankful for all that he knows he has as a beloved child of God. There is no complaint in this passage.  There is no judgment in this short psalm. There is no condemnation for his sin or the sin of others. There is no expression of anguish, or sorrow or pain by David. There is however a fullness of thanksgiving seasoned with clear remembrances of God’s daily provisions of love and mercy for David. This beautiful prayer is David’s lovely poetic expression of him being graciously at peace with God, and intimately knowing God as his devoted and determined care giver, Who is his eternal protector, the only One always ready, willing, and able to provide all that David ever needs.

1 The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. (I will never lack anything.)
The LORD: “Yahweh,” the tetragrammaton Instead of some impersonal title as may be used to address a dignitary or head of state, David uses the intimately personal name that God used to introduce Himself to Moses on Mt. Horeb.  “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”  God said to Moses, “I AM Who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:13-15)
-One OT Theologian expressed that I AM can also be appreciated and translated as “I will be present is what I will be” and expanded to include “I will be present with My people to be whatever they need Me to be for them.”

Instead of speaking about God and using a formal title, David uses this intimate and personal name God provided to His people. He is using Yahweh, He Who is and will always be with His people and care for their every need. This Yahweh, David says, is my Shepherd, I shall not want for anything.
David speaks with exacting determination in this 1st verse when he says, “Yahweh is my Shepherd.” David does not have any other shepherd. He emphatically says he has no other God but the one true and living God. David, himself a shepherd, knows the seriousness of being one who takes care of his flock. He knew it was by God’s power and strength that he was able to protect his family’s flock of sheep by slaying wild beasts. Even though still a boy, but an experienced shepherd, knowingly dependent upon the Great Shepherd of His people, David went up against the giant Goliath when the rest of Israel had retreated in fear from his challenges. David speaks not with confidence in his shepherding abilities, but instead he speaks of the abilities of the Great Shepherd of His sheep when he courageously rebukes Goliath of Gath who has been blaspheming God.
“You come against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.  Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give all of you into my hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

As before the Philistine army and with Goliath its champion, David, in Psalm 23 declares his complete devotion and identity with Yahweh, The God of Abraham, The God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. It is He Who is David’s Shepherd and no other. There is a sincere determination in David’s proclamation as he declares, Yahweh is my Shepherd. David is echoing the words of God’s call through Moses to His people, that they shall have no other gods before Him. According to David, Yahweh alone is His shepherd. He knows he can only find lasting and complete satisfaction in this life and in the next with Yahweh as His vigilant and gracious shepherd. It is worthless to try and look elsewhere for another to provide more.
 It is imperative for us to be reminded that the flock does not keep the Shepherd, it is the Shepherd Who keeps the flock. The flock is fully and absolutely dependent upon the loving and skillful care of the shepherd, while Yahweh is utterly independent of His Sheep. He does not need anything from them but has chosen to give His love and devotion to them for their blessing and benefit unto His glory in Jesus Christ.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
The Shepherd’s will determines the will of the flock, and each sheep must follow the will of the Shepherd.The Shepherd knows the needs of the flock better than the sheep themselves know their own needs.
It is critical for each sheep to look away from self for ultimate care and provision, because a sheep just can’t provide all that is needed. Trust in and look to the Shepherd to keep, lead, and feed the flock.

After being confronted by Nathan, for his great sin while Israel’s king, David proclaims in Psalm 51 the reality that Yahweh alone can provide what David ultimately needs. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice.  Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You.” (Psalm 51:7-13)
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
David’s Shepherd is a Good Shepherd Who provides for the everyday needs of His sheep and also for the extraordinary needs of His sheep.
Phillip Keller a pastor who spent eight years as a shepherd of four-legged sheep offers some insight into their habits that often are much like those of the two-legged kind of sheep.Sheep, he learned, do not lie down easily. They need four things to help them to lie down and rest.1. Free from fear- due to their timidity and lack of ability to defend themselves.2. Free from friction – they need peace among the other sheep of the flock.3. Free from flies and parasites – they have no way to deal with these things on their own.4. Free from the need to find food – full and satisfied.

So, David is describing an extraordinary thing to happen when shepherding sheep; only a willing and capable Shepherd can make His sheep lie down in green pastures.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for  His name’s sake.
It is a fascinating characteristic of sheep as described by Phillip Keller. Sheep can get themselves in a situation called being “cast down.” A sheep that is too heavy or long fleeced can get stuck after lying down in a little depression or hollow area in the ground. All its efforts to right itself only make the situation worse as its feet get further away from the ground. If a shepherd does not come to the rescue in a few hours, the sheep could die by lack of circulation to their legs.
Like the sheep who are “cast down”, all of us are absolutely and completely dependent upon God in Jesus Christ for everything we need; materially and spiritually, especially for the restoration of our souls.
It is Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, who came as Yahweh in the flesh. 
Jesus declared with seven I AM statements perfectly placed throughout the Gospel According to John that He is The Living God, The Word, Who has come in the flesh. Jesus uses the I AM of Psalm 23 as unto Himself.
I AM the Way, The Truth and the Life.I AM the Light of the world.I AM the Bread of LifeI AM the Resurrection and the LifeI AM the DoorI AM the True VineAnd in John 10 Jesus says this about Himself…
“I AM the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd. The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.” (John 10)
Jesus at the end of His earthly life gave His eleven disciples a commission to carry on after He left. As His beloved sheep, they are to carry on the good work of the Shepherd which He began in them and promised to perfect it in them through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Conclusion: Well, after taking this time with Psalm 23 as David’s comforting and empowering prayer of rest and satisfaction in Yahweh through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit for the everyday and in the everyway of life, how do you respond to the opening question?
What is your default language? Do you find it easier to complain about your daily situations and way you are treated by others, rather than to give thanks to God at all times and in all places? Complaining is easy to do when we place ourselves at the center of our lives and neglect the guidance, direction, promises and daily provisions of our Good Shepherd. 
The Apostle Paul reminded the followers of Jesus in Philippi in the spirit of Psalm 23 when he shared these words of God with them. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)
By the power of the Holy Spirit, you can learn and grow in enjoying Christ’s everyday care as your Good Shepherd.
Let’s use Psalm 19:7-11 as just one place to guide us in this great adventure of declaring The LORD is my Shepherd, and no other, while living for His will to be done in our lives here are on earth as it surely is done in heaven.

The Law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     000000000000000000000100The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.The ordinances of the LORD are sure, and altogether righteous.They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold.They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.By them is Your servant warned, in keeping them is great reward.
A little story about living out Psalm 23:1-3 in our daily lives in Jesus. “There was a farmer who grew excellent corn who regularly won awards for his great corn. He also consistently shared his seed with his fellow farming neighbors. When a reporter discovered this, he asked the farmer, “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours?”“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field-to-field pollinating all of our crops.” Sharing my good seed with my neighbors, profits all of us by each being able to grow good corn.” Author unknown.
In the excellent care of the LORD God, in Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, and by the power and daily presence of the Holy Spirit, we, His beloved sheep, are in the best position to share our “good seed” with all of our neighbors. In so doing, God is pleased to bless and prosper its growth as He sees fit.” 
“Our Good Seed” is like what David described in Psalm 23.-We know the reality of being satisfied, and not wanting. -We know love in ways that many never experience.-We have experienced forgiveness in a manner that too many never understand or are able to embrace.-We have been brought to precious places of peace to lie down and find rest for our weary souls.-We have come to the end of our rope and see Jesus holding us up and embracing us with His compassion and care through His Holy Spirit.-We know the truth of God and it has set us free from ourselves.-We talk to God in prayer and know that He hears us because of our gracious relationship with Jesus by His gift of faith.
And I could go on. 
-We know the daily and the extraordinary care of a loving Shepherd Who has given His life for His Sheep so they may know His peace that surpasses all understanding and which will guard their hearts and minds. Each of us knows that our life experiences are not flawless. Sin regularly gets in the way, but it no longer dominates us, and in spite of all that clouds our vision at times we can still see the reality of life, even if only dimly at times. Sure, we have many ups and downs and at times our Good Shepherd seems so very far away, and we are experiencing seemingly devastating circumstances. Sometimes our hurts are so deep and lasting that we don’t think they will ever end, and sometimes they don’t stop this side of glory.  Nonetheless, The Good Shepherd is with each of His children, each of His cherished sheep, and He often leaves the ninety-nine to go and retrieve the one that is lost. 
If God is moving in your heart and mind today and you would like to know Him as David describes in Psalm 23, cry out to Him, ask Him to open your heart and give you the desire to search His word more, to pray to Him more, to ask the leaders of this congregation or someone else who you trust, about what it means to be at peace with Yahweh through faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
For those of you who reflect the precious thoughts of Psalm 23, having come to know God in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, even if only dimly at times and are trusting in Him for all of your needs, please consider the regular and extraordinary ways you may share your “good seed” with those around you in your particular part of His kingdom. You have a mission field that is unique for you, a group of people for whom God has placed you in their sphere of involvement for His glory.
Through the work to which God has called me with Ministry to State, I particularly would like for you to consider how God may be pleased to use you to involve yourself in the lives of those who serve in our civil government.
“Governments today exist at God’s pleasure; they are His servants. Their purpose is to sustain and advance God’s rule of goodness on earth, and our role, as Kingdom citizens within one or another civil administration, is to help civil government accomplish God’s purpose for it.” T.M. Moore, p. 39 “The King’s Heart” Please ask God to guide you in these three steps. 1. Pray for His direction on what He would have you do. 2. Prepare what you need to do to carry out His calling upon your life as it relates to meaningful contact and sharing of the “good seed” of Jesus with others. 3. Participate in whatever way is best for you and your current capabilities.
Praying for those serving in our civil government is part of a larger call for the Followers of Jesus to embrace the promise and obey the command of God’s Word to unite in prayer for the good of our state, for our nation, for the progress of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and for the furthering of the Kingdom of God unto His eternal glory in Jesus Christ.
A couple of suggestions to consider.1. Take a copy of the Daily Prayer Guide, by County, to pray for 30 members of our House of and Senate each month. You can pray for 1/day focusing on your county and adjacent counties. 2. Get to know these members by going to the State Legislature website listed on the prayer guide. 3. Learn who are your local representatives and seek God’s direction on how best to minister to them in person and by correspondence in the name of Jesus and for His glory.
4. Contact me so we can talk and pray about what God may have for you to do. I am available to help anyone who would like to be used of God to minister with love and truth, in the name of Jesus, to those serving in our civil government.
5. Please take a copy of the last newsletter to read about a few of the many encounters I have been blessed to have with those serving in our Capitol. Sign up to receive a newsletter to keep you informed on what God is doing in with MTS.“Many are the plans of a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)-This is not easy, but it is simple. It takes time for it to stick and become a regular discipline. It has taken me almost a year to develop this discipline of regularly praying for and communicating with those in our State Government, and to really begin to care about them and see them as real people. It has become less of a discipline and more of a delight to pray daily for these dear people whom God has brought to serve in our state capitol.
-This can be done by each of us, no matter your age, maturity, your health, station in life, or whatever. As a follower of Jesus, you are useful in God’s care through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Please keep in mind that as we pray to God in Jesus Christ in the confidence and care of Him being our Good Shepherd, it is He Who decides what is best for His people and what is most glorious to His great name. In praying, we are not trying to convince God to do something He is unwilling to do, instead we are joining in seeking His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. God graciously uses the prayers of His people to draw them closer to Him in Jesus, as He works out His blessed providence and perfect will to be done as He desires.

Let’s close with this lovely prayer by the apostle Paul written for the saints in Ephesus. (It is in the context of Paul explaining that God is bringing together both Jew and Gentile as one people in Jesus Christ.) “I pray that out of His glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:16-21) 
   
Expect great things from Your Good Shepherd,
Attempt great things for Your Good Shepherd.

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Series Information

When Pastor Peter is away Second City Church is blessed to hear other men God has gifted to preach.

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