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“The Great Shepherd” (Psalm 23)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Last week, we started a new series called “The Psalms of Summer.”

We looked at Psalm 1 last week, and it ends with these words in verse 6, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous.”

We need the Lord to watch over us, don’t we?

You know, the Bible uses a metaphor to refer to God’s people, which reminds us that we need someone watching over us. The Bible refers to us as sheep.

Sheep really need help. They really need someone to watch over their way.

In fact, sheep are really pretty dumb. Here’s a video you may have seen of a sheep that demonstrates just how dumb they are. (show video)

We are like this sheep. We need some help. We need someone to guide us and direct us.

In Psalm 23, David writes about how the Lord cares for and watches over His people. He speaks about how the Lord is like a shepherd. Today’s sermon is entitled “The Great Shepherd.”

Before we dive into this passage, let’s pray together and ask the Lord to guide and direct us now.


Ok, let’s read Psalm 23 and then see what we can draw out of it.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;

I have what I need.

2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside quiet waters.

3 He renews my life;

he leads me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.

4 Even when I go through the darkest valley,

I fear no danger,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

as long as I live.

Ok, let’s walk through this passage and discover six ways the Lord is a loving shepherd for us.

First, . . .

‌I. The Lord provides for us.

In verse 1, David says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need.”

Notice your English translation has the word LORD in what’s called small caps.

All the letters are capitalized, yet the O, R, and D are a little smaller than the L. That’s called small caps.

The reason the word LORD is written in small caps is to designate that this is the formal name for God. This is the name Yahweh.

So, David is saying, “Yahweh is my shepherd.”

A loving shepherd will provide for his sheep. Such is the case with God and His children.

God cares for us and provides everything that we need.

He may not meet all of our wants, right? Sometimes what we want isn’t what we need, is it? Sometimes, we want things that we shouldn’t want. After all, that dumb sheep in the video wanted to jump back into the ditch.

I imagine sometimes that the Lord God just shakes His head and laughs at us when we are being dumb sheep.

However, don’t you know, church, that the Lord God knows what we need?

The apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Listen, the Lord knows what you need, and He will provide everything you need.

Ultimately, what you need more than anything else is Him.

Sometimes, it’s when we don’t have some of the things that we think we need that we realize what we really need is Him.

He is a good shepherd. He will supply what you need.

Not only does the Lord provide for us, also, . . .

‌II. The Lord cares for us.

He is not just a provider in the sense that He is some cold or robotic supply machine. No, He is also caring.

David says in verses 2 and 3, “He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life.”

A sheep would delight in green pastures full of lush grass in which to graze.

A sheep would not only be refreshed by still, quiet waters, they would also be safe from rushing rapids and danger of drowning.

Listen, Church, God wants you to thrive. He wants you to be at peace. He wants you to be at peace.

Recently I worked outside for about 2.5 hours. Then I came back inside and I was terribly hungry and thirsty. I needed some food and drink to renew my life. So also, we need renewal in our spiritual lives, and the Lord gives us the spiritual renewal that we need.

The Lord wants to provide for and care for you so that (as it says in verse 3) your life will be renewed!

Some of you may feel like no one cares for you. Listen: The Lord God cares for you. Some of you may feel like lots of people care for you. Listen: No one cares for you like the Lord God cares for you.

The Lord not only provides for us and cares for us, . . .

‌III. The Lord directs us.

Verse 3 says, “he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

A good shepherd directs the sheep on which path to take. He keeps them safe and helps them to flourish. So also, the Lord directs us and cares for us.

Have you ever been in the woods with someone, and it’s your first time, but they’re very familiar with the property? Isn’t it nice to follow someone who can direct your path?

Listen, friends: No one knows the best path for you better than the Lord God.

Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Church, you can trust the Lord. You can rely on His ways. You can follow Him as your shepherd, as He leads you along the right paths, for His name’s sake!

When you follow Him, He is glorified, He is honored, and He is magnified as The Great Shepherd.

Next, we see that . . .

‌IV. The Lord comforts us.

Verse 4 says, “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.”

Of course, many of you have memorized this verse as “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

The original Hebrew language here speaks of a deep darkness or a deep gloominess.

There’s something about deep darkness that brings fear. Children are often afraid of the dark. Adults are often afraid of the dark. Even the bravest of adults are more cautious of the dark, or may say, “Don’t be there after dark.”

Darkness has a fear associated with it.

However, David says that even in the darkest valley, even when it’s as dark as death, he will fear no evil or danger.

Why doesn’t he fear? Because the Lord God is with him.

He is guided and comforted by The Great Shepherd.

David is saying that He is comforted because God is with him.

What does a child do when they are with their parent in the dark? They draw close to their parent, and seek to be side by side, arm in arm with their parent, their comforter.

Listen, child of God: He is with you as He was with David. He is your comforter!

We learn that God said to His people in Deuteronomy 31:6, “ . . . For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.”

He will not leave or abandon you either. He will be with you, and He will comfort you.

Next, we learn that . . .

‌V. The Lord blesses us.

The metaphor of God shifts now from a shepherd to a host. David speaks of God as if He is hosting David at an honored banquet.

Verse 5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

In this metaphor, we see that even though David’s enemies are present, the Lord is still blessing him, and there’s nothing his enemies can do to stop God’s blessings on David.

We see this image of God anointing David’s head with oil.

Anointing someone’s head with oil was a sign of honoring and respecting them.

Today, we may honor someone by letting them sit at the head of the table, letting them eat first, or letting them sit in the comfortable recliner.

So, David is pointing out that even though his enemies are present, even though bad things are happening around him, God is still blessing and honoring him.

Do you think there’s a lesson here for us, Church?

So many of us have hard things happening in and around our lives. Many of us have evil things happening in and around our lives.

Listen, God is still your Great Shepherd. God is still providing you with what you really need. God is still caring for you. God is still guiding you. God is still comforting you. God is still blessing you.

God is your Great Shepherd now, and He will always be your Great Shepherd.

That takes us to our final lesson we see in this passage.

‌VI. The Lord keeps us.

David concludes by saying in verse 6, “Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.”

From where is this goodness and faithful love coming? It’s coming from God, right?

The goodness of God is pursuing David. The faithful love of God is pursuing David.

Listen, brothers and sisters: If you are God’s child, He will never give up on you. He will never stop pursuing you with goodness and faithful love. He will never stop showing you His mercy.

David then speaks about the House of God. He is referring here to the dwelling place of God among the Israelites, which at that time would have been the Tabernacle.

Some translations say, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” A better translation is “length of days” or “as long as I live.”

What David means is that for the rest of his life, God will pursue him and he will rest in the blessings of God.

Of course, we not only have Psalm 23, we have the entire Bible to teach us that not only will God bless us in this life, He will indeed bless us forever.

Jesus said in John 10:27–28, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

In Jesus, we indeed will dwell with the Great Shepherd forever.

What a beautiful psalm this is. It’s a reminder that the Lord is good to His people.

That’s our bottom line for today:

‌Bottom Line: The Lord is good to His people.

We are His sheep, and He cares for us. He is pursuing us with His goodness all the days of our lives.

Listen, brothers and sisters, the Lord is good to His people. Trust Him and go to Him.

Challenge yourself this week in this one way:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Dwell in the goodness of God.

The rest of your days, celebrate the goodness of God in your life; take in all of His blessings and love for you.

In the deep, dark valley, dwell in the goodness of God.

In the presence of enemies and evil, dwell in the goodness of God.

In struggle and in victory, dwell in the goodness of God.

Remind yourself of His goodness. Proclaim His goodness. Dwell in His goodness.

Psalm 23 points us to the Great Shepherd. We learn that this Shepherd was revealed to us even more in the gospel.

Listen to what Jesus said about Himself in John 10:14–15: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Do you know the Good Shepherd? Does He know you?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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