Jesus My Shepherd:
Read the entire Psalm
I am beginning a expository teaching series on Psalm 23 for SRY, and you all have the privilege of hearing the first sermon of the series. I have the privilege of dissecting, studying, meditating upon, and finally bringing the results to the youth of our church.
Psalm 23, in my opinion, is the best chapter in the entire Old Testament. However, in my opinion, it happens to be the subject of some of the most ambiguous teachings we here today, second only to the Lord’s Prayer. Psalm 23 is radically difficult to truly apply to our everyday life. Why? Because when we read it, we are forced to ask ourselves tough questions. It is when we answer these tough questions, that we find the contentment and relationship that David refers to in this Psalm.
I. JESUS HAS THE CREDENTIALS TO BE YOUR SHEPheRD!
- It is taught that in order to accurately interpret the Bible (Hermeneutics), we must strive to understand what the original author intended for the original audience. David did not intend that this Psalm would be read through, sung about, and preached about in a way that does not life the Lord to the highest place
- While we can find great comfort in our individual relationship with Christ in this chapter, the character and holiness of God must always be first and foremost in our mind. Actually reminding yourself of just how great God is, will only enhance your reading of Psalm 23.
- We have a tendency to talk in vague generalities when it comes to God and who He is. The Jewish people had such a fear for God that they would not even speak the name of Jehovah out loud. When the name of God was spoken, it had POWER!
- David was referring to the whole personality of God… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; however, Jesus Christ himself fulfills the prophetic and
- David is the author of this Psalm and rightly so… David was a shepherd himself, later to be called the Shepherd King, and in the in the line of David, Jesus, the Messiah, was the “Lord, our Shepherd
o Jesus confirms this in John 10, when He says that “I am the Good Shepherd”
o We are able to read of types of Christ from the Old Testament such as Able, Jacob, Moses, and David… all keepers of the flock, or shepherds.
§ (Able) Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. (Gen 4:2)
§ In verse 10 we read further that the evil of this world, represented by Cain, shed the blood of an innocent Able. God explains that his blood cried out from the ground.
§ In Hebrews 12:24 it says and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. So in Able we see the Dying Shepherd!
§ Jacob, the shepherd, labored for his bride! In Gen 31:40, Jacob describes the labor he went through to purchase his wives and tend the flocks. So in Jacob we see the laboring Shepherd!
§ Perhaps the best type we see is Joseph. Joseph was a shepherd of his father’s flock, despised and rejected by his own brothers, put in a pit and sold into slavery, and finally exalted above all his brothers and people in the land of Egypt. Gen 49:24, Jacob prophesies about the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. Joseph is the providing shepherd!
§ Moses, a deliverer, who lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Moses, the delivering shepherd
§ King David, a shepherd King. David the royal shepherd
§ Ez 34:23 – I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them— My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. 
- In Isaiah 40:3 we read of the one who will cry out in the desert, preparing the way of the Lord… John the Baptist! This very same chapter in verse 11 reads: He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.
o Jesus here is prophesied once again as the Good Shepherd.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Reconciled in Christ
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross – Col 1:15-20
- The Majesties of God are simply innumerable, yet we do know some things about God’s character from His Word.
o God the Father, is the author of all that exists. It was in His mind that all first took shape.
o God the Son, is the artisan, the very creative force of creation. It is through Him that all were created, and the mind of God revealed.
o God the Holy Spirit reveals these facts to me giving me a choice to believe and walk in a faith that the Holy Spirit nurtures.
- It is humbling to think that we are simply lumps of clay that have divine destiny because of the Divine Potter. David is not speaking here as a shepherd, but as one of the sheep of His flock.
- When our view of God is large and majestic our relationship with Him grows, but it is when we take our lives in our own hands that we go astray.
II. To SAY “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD” is to admit god’s legitimate ownership of you.
- Who better to care for you and direct you than the Creator Himself? He purposely created you to be the object of His affection!
- It is pride that stops man from acknowledging the fullness of this point. The obvious main characters who fit this bill would be unbelievers, but it is going to be to the surprise of many in the church that they find out they never knew God. What pride does is distorts our vision and fills our lives with contradiction.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Matthew 7:21-23
o Do we serve God in ways that we would like to be served? Have we taken the time to ask God how He would like to be served?
o We will claim that we know God is slow to anger and loves His children, but we filter our vision of God through poor examples of our earthly fathers.
o We will say that we know to live is Christ and to die is gain, yet we may leave a church because we are not getting enough recognition or a specific ministry is not created to meet our needs. The Lord is my Shepherd does not mean the Lord is my ministry manager, and in Him I will find great programs.
o We say that we know God wants us to give and that the money is really His and not ours, but when the pastor picks green carpet all the wine-colored carpet fans start talking about how their money is being misused.
- God’s ownership over us will show in our countenance, obedience, and character. Those who will not acknowledge Jesus as Shepherd, fear that their acknowledging God’s ownership over them is come under the rule of a tyrant.
- Our attitude should be like that of Peter in Luke 5 when Peter says to Jesus to depart from him a sinner.
III. THE GOOD SHEPHERD DISCIPLINES HIS SHEEP.
- Jesus was not only gentle with those he healed and restored, but he was stern and terribly tough with the phony people He came in contact with.
- Jesus came to set people free from sin, it was a battle not a pageant. He did not come as predecessor to Gandhi or Mother Teresa, Jesus came as the beginning and the end. He is the author and finisher of our faith.
- Becoming part of Jesus’ flock will leave a distinct mark on the sheep. They would be remarkably different than the other sheep. When a shepherd would attain ewe’s for his flock, he would mark them with a knife to one of the ears. He would know from a distance the sight of his sheep.
- This mark would often be done by the shepherd on a wooden block while holding the sheep’s head in place and driving a razor sharp knife through the ear and cutting away some of the flesh. This was a painful experience for both the sheep and the shepherd.
- The difference between the real sheep of His pasture and those who just say they are is the identifiable mark of Christ on the whole person. If a Christian is not distinguishable from the world, then they are no Christian at all.
o Unfortunately it will be those who pay lip service to the words “the Lord is my Shepherd” who simply “hope” that God will take care of them and see them through to paradise.
o The true sheep of Christ do not simply hope, they know with confidence that God will take care of them and see them through to paradise with Him.
o The motivations are distinct between the real sheep and the fake sheep
§ The fake sheep – paradise
§ The real sheep – the presence of God.
- The sheep, under a shepherd, do not wonder if there will be food or grass on the other side of a hill. If the shepherd brings them there, they are sure food is there.
- When a sheep runs off from the shepherd, the shepherd will discipline the sheep so the sheep remembers to not do it again. A repeat offender would be disciplined with a broken leg, and the shepherd would then wrap it and care for the sheep. Sometimes the sheep would die because of wolves, or steep cliff drops when they ran off.
- Some tough questions:
o Do I really belong to Him?
o Do I really recognize His right to me?
o Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership?
o Do I find freedom and full contentment in this arrangement?
o Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment under His direction?
o Besides a definite adventure, do I know rest and repose in belonging to Him?
If so then with great pride and devotion could you say, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”
The New King James Version. 1982 (Eze 34:23–24). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.