Psalm 23 – Jesus is your Shepherd!

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I ·have everything I need [L will lack nothing].  He ·lets me rest [makes me lie down] in green pastures.He leads me to ·calm [quiet] water.  He ·gives me new strength [T renews my soul].He leads me on paths that are ·right [righteous; or straight] for the ·good [sake] of his ·name [reputation].Even if I walk through ·a very dark valley [or the shadow of death],I will ·not be afraid [T fear no evil], because you are with me.Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me. You prepare a ·meal [L table] for me in ·front [the presence] of my enemies. You ·pour oil of blessing on my head [anoint my head with oil; C oil was a means of refreshment in a hot, dry environment];you ·fill my cup to overflowing [L make my cup overflow; C a cup of blessing].  Surely your goodness and love [loyalty; T mercy] will ·be with[pursue; T follow] me all my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord ·forever [L for length of days].

General Comments

  • David saw himself as a sheep led by God his Shepherd – he knew that he was loved by God and that he would not lack.
  • In a way, this portrays what 1 John 4:18 is saying
  • Key for us to do our best in life, but not in stress. Live life and love, in rest and peace, not stressed out.
  • We don’t need to defend ourselves, neither do we need to fight for open doors. If God opens the door, it is ours. If God doesn’t open the door, it’s not meant to be ours at this present moment.
  • Many think that this is a Psalm for death, however, when we read and understand the Psalm we come to know that it is about our life with our shepherd who loves, leads, cares and is always with us.

Vs 1 –  The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.

  • Other versions of the bible say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I ·have everything I need [will lack nothing].“
  • As you meditate on this simple verse, begin to realize that the Lord IS (present tense) your shepherd.
  • A shepherd provides for his sheep, feeds them and protects them. In the same way, Jesus your shepherd provides for you, feeds you, and protects you.
  • “I shall not want” = the Lord is our provider! One of the names of our God is Jehovah Jireh, which means “the all-providing One.” He provides more than enough. The God of more-than-enough came in the flesh and walked among His people. And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He did not give His disciples small blessings. That is why He said to Peter, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets [plural] for a catch” (Luke 5:4), and not “let down your net [singular].” And what a catch it turned out to be—a boat-sinking, net-breaking catch! It was such a big and unexpected blessing that Peter and all who were with him were “astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken. He provided while on earth and he provides now for whatever we need.
    • {Health, Healing (“I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26))},
    • Finances,
    • Direction (Are you groping in the dark, not knowing what to do? He says, “I am the light of the world (John 8:12).) Success.
    • Are you looking for a way out of a bad situation? He says, “I am your deliverer. I will reach down from on high, take hold of your hand and draw you out of the deep waters” (see Psalm 18:2,16).
    • What is it that we are facing? Is it wisdom, favor or provision that you need? Rest assured that Jesus, our shepherd, will surely supply it, and you shall not be in want for anything.

Vs 2 –  He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.

  • Since the Lord is providing for all our needs, He wants us to lie down and experience abundance (We are receiving based on His completed work!).
  • When you rest, it’s an act of faith. You’re saying, “God, all right, you have finished everything. And if there’s any area not finished, I’m resting so you can finish it in me, through me.” You are resting in work. It is not inactivity.
  • Are you going to work tomorrow saying, “Okay, there’s a deadline. Okay, my boss want to talk to me, or this”? Are you resting in him? Do you believe he will work in you? Or do you feel like nothing is happening? Let me tell you this, even when He’s sleeping, He’s controlling the storm.
  • The place of God’s rest is where you’ll find everything has been done for you. And if something’s left undone, it will be done in you. It’ll be done for you.
  • This is the essence of Jesus’ message in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t struggle, they don’t strain, yet your heavenly Father clothed them. Are you not much better than those lilies?”
  • This brings to mind Jesus invitation to us in Matthew to follow Him and to leave a life of worry! Matthew 11:28-30 (Message Version) says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Vs 3 –  He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

  • Expanded version says this: He ·gives me new strength [ renews my soul]. He leads me on paths that are ·right [righteous; or straight] for the ·good [sake] of his ·name [reputation].
  • Voice version: He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.
  • Complete Jewish Bible: he restores my inner person. He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name.

Vs 4 – Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

  • We are only walking through the valley we DO NOT STAY in the valley.  So much grace and love shown us.  We see also that it is but the shadow of death and not death itself.  Jesus conquered death for us at Calvary and defeated it forevermore.  No more fears (Psalm 91), instead we have His shalom peace (John 10:27-28).
  • Our Good Shepherd would never lead us into the valley of death (He came to bring life).   What happens is that we ourselves get into the valley of the shadow of death all on our own.  Our Shepherd, Jesus, who is always with us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, Romans 8:35-39) protects us and leads us through and out of this valley.

Vs 5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 

  • Some may say, “Lord, how can you expect me to eat now? The symptoms are still in my body! My bank account still shows the lack! Lord, I will eat well and I will celebrate when all my problems are resolved.”
  • But the Bible says that God doesn’t follow human nature. God says, “I will prepare a table. You eat first! You eat in the presence of your enemies, and I will take care of your enemies.”

Vs 6 – Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

  • “Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the day of my life” literally means “Surely goodness and mercy shall HUNT ME DOWN all the days of my life!”
  • Jesus is faithful and with us now, right here right now

Our Response to God’s Word and Work in our Lives

Matthew 13:3-8
What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

I. What is the meaning of this parable?
II. Jesus himself provides the meaning to this parable in Matthew 13:18-19
Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.  The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.  The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.  The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

III. Four types of soil represent different responses to God’s word.
a. “..remains on the surface…” Hardened heart/shallowness (Vs 18-19)
b. “…cast in the gravel…no soil of character” “…For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” (NKJV)(Vs 20-21)
c. Cares and worry, distractions, pursuing things more important. (Vs 22)
d. Good earth, good ground (vs 23)
IV. What is the good ground that we want to have? A few verses come to mind in terms of how we want to value the word and pursue our life as a follower of Christ.
a. Mark 4:24 (Msg)

Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.

b. John 15:5-8

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
c. Colossians 3:1-17

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.  Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.  And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.  Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.  So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.