TEXT: PSALM 23
OBSERVE: Psalm 23 is placed between Psalm 22, which depicts Jesus as suffering, and Psalm 24 which depicts Him as sovereign. In this psalm, Christ is characterized as the all-sufficient shepherd. When we read these psalms together, we see a connection of a shepherd's cross, his crook, and his crown. In the gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, which echoes many of the words of Psalm 23.
INTERPRET: When we read this psalm, where David wrote “The Lord is my shepherd”, we might think that David was writing from his personal experience and knowledge of shepherding. Although this would have certainly been on his mind, we must remember that David was not the first person to call God his Shepherd. In fact, David was drawing on the words of Jacob, who at the end of his life said to his son Joseph’s sons: “May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham and my father Issac walked - the God who has been my shepherd all my life, to the very day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm - may he bless these boys” (Genesis 48: 15-16).
Jacob had walked through many dark valleys, that for the most part were made dark by his own deceit. But at the end of his life he could look back and rejoice that the Lord had been his Shepherd; pursuing him like a lost sheep, providing and caring for him. In Psalm 23, David was saying that like Jacob, he had found himself in dark valleys and discovered there that the Lord was a shepherd to him. But while Jacob and David experienced that presence of the Lord as their shepherd, protecting and caring for them, a far greater revelation of God as Shepherd was to come.
APPLICATION: In Jesus, we see the sacrificial nature of the good shepherd, who sacrificed his life for the sheep (John 10: 11). In Jesus, we see the ongoing work of the the good shepherd, who will equip his sheep with all they need, to do his will and produce in them every good thing that is pleasing to him (Hebrews 13: 20-21). In Jesus, we see the generosity of our great shepherd, from whom we will receive a crown of never ending glory and honor (1 Peter 5: 4). Finally; we see the worthiness of the good shepherd, as he sits on the throne and gives his sheep shelter so that they will never be hungry or thirsty: “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd” (Revelation 7: 15-17).
As we learn from the life of Jacob, we see that very often the valley’s we encounter are caused by our own doing and our own sin. Thankfully, the good shepherd leads us to safety by his sacrificial death. As we learn from the life of Joseph, we understand that we are given what we need to be able to trust in our shepherd to lead us out of trouble. This is because he equips his sheep. We also learn from David who received a crown for a time, that we who trust in God will all receive an eternal crown as Kings and Priests. This is because our Good Shepherd sits on the throne, and will be the subject of our worship for eternity.
PRAYER: My good Shepherd, because I have you, I have all that I need. You lead me into rest and empower me. You guide me to live in ways that honor you. Even when I walk through darkness and difficulty, I don’t have to be afraid, because I look up and find you right there. Your sacrifice on the cross has drawn me to you, and your Word keeps me close to you. My life is overflowing with your goodness and mercy. Forever I will live safely within your fold. AMEN.
SONG: PSALM 23 PRAYER VIDEO and SHEPHERD OF MY SOUL
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.