Sermon: Jesus the Good Shepherd and the Great Host Psalm 23

Jesus the Good Shepherd and the Great Host

Psalm 23

Truth Taught- Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 meeting all our needs by His presence and care.

Introduction

Psalm 23 is a highly personal Psalm for David. David understood what it was to be a shepherd and David knew a lot about sheep and what sheep need. He writes this Psalm from the perspective of sheep. This is the sheep’s eye view of the Shepherd. The sheep’s Psalm.

Within the Book of Psalms we have many lofty names given for God. We have names like God is my King, God is the Most High, My Strength, God is the King of Glory and so on. Here, in Psalm 23 David writes that while God is all those high and lifted up titles He is also David’s shepherd.

David is a prophet and he points us to the covenant God as he recounts the times Yahweh cared, saved, and kept him through dangers. He points us forward to Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Psalm 23 at first reading seems to present a life of tranquility. Life is good, right? It says things like these sheep lack nothing and fear no evil and goodness follows them forever.

David’s life was far from safe and not as good as this Psalm sounds. He was under attack, Saul on multiple occasions sought to kill David. The Philistines wanted him dead. His best friend Jonathan was killed, his son Absalom tried to kill him and he was killed, his baby died. This life is a far cry from the tranquility presented in Psalm 23. There has to be more to it than what is on the surface.

What David understood through toils and snares is that life is good as a Christian but life is not easy. To equate ease with goodness is to miss what this Psalm teaches. Life is good if that life is in Christ. Life is peaceful if that life rests in Christ.

This is a Psalm of David, which points us to not only his Good Shepherd but to our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. This Psalm is prophetic and points us straight to Jesus.

David shows us many things that the Good Shepherd does for His sheep.

The ending of the Psalm shifts focus from the our Lord as Shepherd to our Lord as the gracious Host.

Prayer

Psalm 23:1–6 (ESV)

   The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

       He makes me lie down in green pastures.

       He leads me beside still waters.

       He restores my soul.

       He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

   Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

       for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

   You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

       you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

   Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

       and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

  1. The Good Shepherd Leads Us By His Presence
  2. The Good Shepherd Gives Us Rest

   The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

       He makes me lie down in green pastures.

To lie down for the sheep means they are content and happy. To lie down is to rest. Sheep will not rest until they are satisfied. They remain standing until they have found contentment then they lie down. The conclusion to being content, I shall not want is that the sheep or David or us, we can lie down and be content with what the Lord has provided.

We live in a society of discontent, don’t we? We have more stuff than most and we are still discontent. Is that an exaggeration? Here’s the flow of illogic…I want to go to college (WHY)…So I can get a high paying job (WHY)…so I can make lots of money (WHY)…So I can buy things I want (WHY)…so I can be happy (WHY). Then we discover that if we make lots of money and buy the things we want then we want more things because the things we thought would make us happy either didn’t or did for a time but now we want more stuff to make us even happier. So, the avg American who has more money and more stuff than anyone is no happier than the person who doesn’t have much at all. The bottom line is that stuff will not make us happy because, like a drug addiction we always need another fix and this time it’s going to take more money and more stuff than it did the last time.

The only escape from this cycle of discontent is to find joy in Christ, Someone who is infinite.

The Good Shepherd gives us rest from many things but one thing here is He gives us rest from being discontent. Jesus looking back to this Psalm explains to His disciples and to us the Church that He alone is the Good Shepherd who gives us rest.

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The Good Shepherd sees to it that we have rest not only physically but deeper rest for our souls. It’s the soul where discontentment lurks.

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  1. The Good Shepherd Feeds His Sheep

       He makes me lie down in green pastures.

The picture David paints for us is that the Good Shepherd takes His flock to amazing pastures full of green grass so that they can eat until they are full and then they lie down to rest. The Lord’s sheep are given an abundance of everything they need. These pastures are not sparsely seeded with grass but have been planted abundantly and have had the right amount of rain these are perfect pastures.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who feeds His people. Mark’s Gospel is in many ways Peter’s Gospel. Peter and Mark spent many days together and as Mark wrote his account of Jesus’ life much of the information came from Peter. As Mark writes the account of the feeding of the 5,000 Peter shows us some things that are very important concerning this event. These details point us right back to the 23rd Psalm.

Mark 6:30–44 (ESV)

30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

This is Peter’s remembrance of that day. There are the amazing things we usually stand in awe of, namely, the number of the people, how little food Jesus had, and how such a large number could be fed with so little. Those are amazing miracles. I want us to look at an often-overlooked miracle in Peter’s memory. There’s something that stuck out to Peter as much as the other details. The place where they were was a desolate place. The passage mentions this three times. It also mentions the fact that this large crowd was like sheep without a Shepherd. So, guess what Jesus did? He not only gave them rest and food but to make it abundantly clear that He is the Good Shepherd and will now be their Shepherd not only provided food but also the green grass to sit on showing everyone that He is the Good Shepherd David wrote about and He will lead His sheep to green pastures. Peter remembers that day like it was yesterday and he tells Mark about the amazing miracle of the abundance of food that Jesus provided…the smell of the fish baking on the fires, the warm bread and the green grass. I can see Peter looking down as he sat there running his hand over the grass and smiling…this is the Good Shepherd from Psalm 23!!

  1. The Good Shepherd Leads Us to Still Waters

       He makes me lie down in green pastures.

       He leads me beside still waters.

The Good Shepherd leads His sheep. He walks on ahead and His sheep follow. Sheep need still water to drink. They can’t drink from a swift stream because they don’t know much but instinctively, they know that it’s hard to swim with a wool sweater on. They won’t drink from fast moving water. The Good Shepherd leads them to pools of still fresh water to drink.

Jesus provides this water to all His sheep…
John 4:13–15 (ESV)

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Do you see what Jesus was doing when He offered the Samaritan Woman living water? He was declaring Himself to be David’s Psalm 23 Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd who leads His sheep to living water.

  1. The Good Shepherd Gives Us Life

       He restores my soul.

The Good Shepherd provides life for His flock. As we consider what Jesus gives us we conclude that the sheep apart from the Shepherd can acquire none of the things mentioned.

John 10:10–16 (ESV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

  1. The Good Shepherd Leads Us Into Righteousness

       He restores my soul.

       He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

The literal translation is right paths but the meaning is righteous paths. In other words, the Good Shepherd leads us on the path that will get us to green pastures. The path is not necessarily the easiest path or the path of least resistance. God leads us down the path that will produce the greatest amount of righteousness in His people.

What path does the Good Shepherd have you on today? Is it the path of suffering? Is it the path of trial? Is it the path of rest or healing? Whatever path He is leading you down God has in mind the eternal goal of righteousness.

Whatever path God has you going down will only produce the righteousness He desires if the daily path is connected to daily instruction. We must have truth to allow us to sort through the issues we face daily. Righteousness only comes as we live on the path God is taking us down while making sense of things through His Word. Are you thankful for your current path? Do you praise Him for placing you on the path of righteousness.

The path of righteousness has a purpose. Why does God do this? For His namesake. God’s desire is that His people are not only declared righteous but have actual effective righteousness. His desire is that we are being made more and more righteous for His honor and glory. So, God is always leading us on the path of righteousness for His good reputation. We are taught so that we will grow into more and more righteousness so we can better represent Him to the world.

We see a great example of Jesus teaching His disciples as He as the Good Shepherd is leading them into truth. He had them on the path or righteousness.

Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Here is a great example of Jesus leading His people out of anxiety and into trust as He teaches them that everything they have spent so much time worrying about God already knows and will provide it for them. What they need to be concerned with is… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The Good Shepherd leads us down the path of righteousness for His namesake.

  1. The Good Shepherd Never Leaves Us

   Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

       for you are with me;

Sometimes the paths of righteousness take us through the dark valleys. It is often in these dark valleys the most righteousness is produced. These dark valleys are difficult to travel but notice the reason we can enter them without fear…what does the text say? Because You are with me.

When the Israelites were on their forty-year journey in the wilderness Moses writes…

Deuteronomy 2:7 (ESV)

For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” ’

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who never leaves His sheep. He is always with us. Do you remember when Jesus was born?

Matthew 1:22–23 (ESV)

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23    “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).

  1. The Good Shepherd Reassures Us

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

In the life of a Shepherd he would learn that as he used his rod and staff (the rod to fend of wild animals and the staff to rescue His sheep) the sheep would be more inclined to go onto the dark path because they knew the Shepherd was carrying his rod and staff. They were a great encouragement to the sheep to go where the shepherd wanted them to go even if the path was dark and dangerous.

The last two verses of Psalm 23 shifts from the imagery of the Shepherd and His sheep to a Host and His Guest.

  1. The Good Shepherd Protects Us By His Presence

   You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

       you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

   Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

       and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

During the time David wrote this Psalm there was a tradition that was very important among the Israelites. When a guest enters your home for fellowship and for dinner they become your responsibility. Their safety is the responsibility of the Host. David writes that when God is Host our table can be set in the realm of our enemies and God will keep us. A good Host will keep His guests safe at all costs. The Lord keeps us safe from our enemies even at the cost of His own Son.

This meal is the banquet feast. This meal is eaten with God’s enemies simply looking on powerless. We are the honored guests and Jesus Christ is our Honored Host.

Our Host gives us oil and wine in abundance…our cup overflows.

It was also accepted tradition in the ancient world when asked to be a guest in someone’s house the guest would stay perhaps for as long as three days and then a good respectable guest would excuse himself rather than overstay his welcome.

Notice when God is our Host we are invited to stay not just for a day or two or even three…we are invited to stay…forever.

When God is your Host you become family. Like a good Father He will provide for all your needs. His goodness and His mercy will be relentless. He will chase you down to give you goodness and mercy.

John 14:1–6 (ESV)

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Application

I pray as we consider all the amazing points of Psalm 23 we consider just how well our Lord is portrayed in the verses. He is truly our Good Shepherd who cares for us and will always be with us. He is also the honored Host who keeps us and invites us to live with Him as His children forever.

Are you content with what the Lord has given you and are you resting in His green pastures or are you always on the hunt for more and more? Are you content with His presence? Are you content?

 

 

 

*Resources Used:

Psalms by Goldengay

Psalms by James Johnston

Preaching Christ from the Psalms by Greidanus

Psalm 23 by D A Carson

Teaching the Psalms by Ash

 

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