Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is treasured by so many because it simply and in such common metaphors expresses such profound faith and truth.
There has been so much written on this psalm that it might seem pointless to attempt to add anything here.
Yet, if we look beyond the images and the emotional level and probe the theology of the psalm we may find so many
wonderful blessings.
Psalm 23 is rather profound in its simplicity, and it is that very simplicity and lack of specificity that allows it to be so versatile.

Charles H. Spurgeon has said: “This is the pearl of psalms whose soft and pure radiance delights every eye;
a pearl of which Helicon need not be ashamed, though Jordan claims it.
Of this delightful song it may be affirmed that its piety and its poetry are equal, its sweetness and its spirituality are unsurpassed.

One Week With Psalm 23    (First of Series)
The first verse I ever memorized was "God is love."
The second verse I memorized was John 3:16
The third verse I memorized was Psalm 23:1.
Every Christian will be blessed by committing Psalm 23 to memory, and recalling each verse as the need arises.

There are seven amazing promises in Psalm 23.
That is a promise for every day of the week.
We should also remember that each promise is ours in Christ.

Psalm 23 is a personal psalm using the personal singular pronoun, " I ".
Reading Psalm 23 each day of the week can transform your life with the Lord providing guidance, rest, protection and assurance.
He will help us with every problem, and He will help us through every situation.

Many years ago, I found these seven days in Psalm 23 from a book by Lloyd Ogilvie.
The book was "Falling Into Greatness."
And I wish to share them with you. ...

The Lord Is My Shepherd, And I Am His Sheep. Psalm 23:1 (Second in series)
Psalm 23:1: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

Sheep are mentioned in the Bible more than 500 times -- more than any other animal.
The prominence of sheep in the Bible grows out of two realities.
Sheep were important to the nomads and agricultural life of the Hebrews and similar peoples.
Secondly, sheep are used throughout the Bible to symbolically refer to God's people.

Sheep are commonly used throughout the Bible to symbolically refer to God's people.
We see this in Psalm 95:7:
"For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."

This Psalm is about ownership.
If the Lord is my Shepherd, then I ought to recognize his rights over me, and that I am not my own
 -- I have been bought with a price.

The Eastern shepherd was usually the owner of his sheep.
He may sell it, or kill it, or do what he likes with it; and no one can dispute his right to do so. And a genuine Christian
knows that Christ has an absolute right in him.
Whether he is to live or to die, to sorrow or to rejoice, should be no matter of choice to a Christian; he should feel that,
whatever is his Master's will is also his will.

If the Lord is our shepherd, that means that we are His sheep.
We remember that "It is God who has made us and not we ourselves."

We need to recognize some of the characteristics of one who can say, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
If I am the Lord's sheep, I shall have something of the sheep's dispositio

The Lord Is My Shepherd, And I Lack Nothing. - Psalm 23:1  (Third in series)
Psalm 23:1: "The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want."

When I was two, I wanted a little red wagon.
When I was three, I wanted a tricycle.
When I was nine, I wanted a bicycle.
When I was sixteen, I wanted a car.
When I was twenty one, I wanted a new car.
My wanter has been active all my life.
I must say that I have not always gotten what I wanted.

I know people who have started out their married life in a small apartment.
Then, they wanted a new home.
After that, they wanted a bigger home.
I know some who would say they want a million dollars.

There are many who grew up expecting to have an affordable, college education, a high-paying job, a nice home
in the suburbs, great health care, thriving children, two cars in the garage, great annual vacations
and security for retirement years.
Many have grown up believing that they deserved happiness -- that they are entitled to it.
Some years ago, Janis Joplin sang:
"O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz!
My friends all drive Porsches, and I must make amends.
I've worked hard all my life, little help from my friends,
So O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?"

That was her expectation.
What are yours?
The way we interpret the phrase, "I shall not want," reveals the way we look at the world and how we understand
 our true needs.
Too often, we take things that are merely desires, and come to believe that they are real needs.
What do we really want from life?

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Just What I Need! --  (Fourth In Psalm 23 Series)
Psalm 23:2: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

Busy, busy, busy!
We are busy with appointments, activities and assignments.
Faced almost daily with decisions and deadlines.
Our time is consumed with schedules, ...services and seminars.
Our lives go non-stop with plans, programs and people.
It is no wonder that our lives are stressed-out.

Are you a workaholic?
Workaholism can be a serious condition.
It can lead to the destruction of families.
It can also result in serious stress-related health problems.

Are you a workaholic?
You are if you are always in a hurry.
You are if your "To Do" list is unrealistically long.
You are if you use your "days off" to catch up with unfinished work.
You are if you feel guilty when you try to relax.
You are if you have to get sick to take time off.
You are if your family refers to you as "Occupant"
You are if you are working more and enjoying it less.

When work becomes the sole reason for being, you are a workaholic.
When work is the only thing you think about, you are a workaholic.
When work is the only thing that makes you happy, you are a workaholic.
Psalm 23 tells us what God says to people under stress and pressure.
Psalm 23:2: "He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters."

He Restores My Soul! -- Psalm 23:3   (Fifth in Psalm 23 series)
Many Christians know nothing of the conscious enjoyment of the love of Jesus and daily communion with Him
This is sad because they are starving in the midst of plenty.
They are living in spiritual poverty while all the treasures of God are theirs.
They live as hired servants, instead of living like sons of the King!
They perform the duties of religion without the enjoyment of it.
They wear its yoke, but do not feed in its green pastures.

They push aside the cream of our holy faith, and partake only of its skim milk.
They leave the warm moments of fellowship with God for the frozen regions of negligent living.
They shiver with fear while committed Christians are filled with gladness.
They have chosen to stay in the outer courts of the temple, and never enter into the holy of holies.
They do not pass within the veil to behold the Glory of the Lord.
They are sailing to Heaven, but they are stowed away in the hold of the ship in the darkness.

Too often, we stray from the path that our Shepherd would lead us.
We may easily lose fellowship with Christ by pride and self-esteem — if He indulges us with happy hours
of sacred joy, we are very apt to think that we are somebody — and then, we hold our heads up high with pride.

Jesus is ready to restore our souls.
We may lose the awareness of the presence of Christ by forgetting our Christian duty, or of not considering His Truth.
We may also lose it by evil thoughts, and by being absorbed with fleeting cares.
We may also lose the fellowship of Christ by inconsistent actions or by idle conversations.
"He restores my soul."

Just When I Need Him! --  Psalm 23:3  (Sixth in Psalm 23 series)
Our Shepherd will lead us in the paths of righteousness.
We called upon to avoid paths that would lead us into certain dangers, and even from some paths that may seem
to lead us to happiness.
We must follow the Shepherd because we know that He will lead us to the right paths.

Those are those who profess to be Christians, but it seems that they do not allow Christ to make any little difference
in their lives.
No one could tell the difference between a pagan, and such a professing Christian because there is no inward
They are Christians in name only.
They could be considered to be "nominal Christians."

David knew that he could not survive in the wilderness by being "nominally" committed to God.
And we must recognize the conflict, and the the confusion, and the compromise that all of us face.
And then, we can see why David wrote the words:
"He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

Righteousness begins with God -- not with us.
That is why we must constantly be led into the paths of righteousness.
We don't do this naturally by ourselves.
That is why this psalm and other portions of God's Word remind us that it is not about us -- it's all about God.
The good news is that God wants to lead us, and is always ready to do so.

Through It All!    Psalm 23:4      (Seventh in Psalm 23 series)
The psalm begins with the remainder that the Lord is our shepherd.
We need a shepherd, and Jesus is our Shepherd.

We do not go have to go through life alone.
We have a Shepherd who is always with us.
Wherever we go, our Shepherd goes with us.
When we lie down in green pastures or go through the valley of the shadow of death, our Shepherd is with us
and leading us.

Whether we are at home, or at work, or at school, He is with us.
If we are in the hospital or a funeral home, our Lord, our Shepherd is already there with us.
This verse also applies when it comes to dying, but it also applies to our living life each day.
And if you are now going through some trials and tribulations, then, as you are walking through the valley of the shadow
of death, it will bring assurance if you would just repeat the words of this fourth verse:
"Yea, 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."

Notice the words are in the present tense.
They are ready to help us as we go through the dark valley.
Though I walk, this very moment, through the valley of the shadow of death, our Lord -- our Shepherd is with us

He Was There All The Time!   --  Psalm 23:4   (Eighth in Psalms 23 series)
We have looked at three of the six verses, and this morning, we will look at the second half of these famous words.
We will be looking at them through the eyes of a sheep.

Up to this point in the psalm, life has been good for the sheep.
He has talked about what a great shepherd he has, and how that shepherd has supplied all his needs.
He has talked about how the shepherd leads him to green pastures for food and clean water for drinking.
He has said that his shepherd restores his failing health, and guides him down good paths.

Now the pronoun in verse 4 has changed.
It's no longer third person -- he restores my soul -- it's now second person -- for you are with me.
The sheep is now talking directly to his shepherd.
He is saying, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me"
"Even in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."
With our great Shepherd leading us, we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and fear no evil
for He is with us.

So, we will not fear the terror of the night or of the shadow of death that stalks us all the days of our lives.
Our faith is in our Shepherd, Jesus Chris
... More

The Comfort We Need!    Psalm 23:4  (Ninth in Psalm 23 series)
It is so assuring and comforting to know that the Lord is my Shepherd, and to know that He is sovereign and all powerful.
And that I can say "The Lord is my shepherd; he maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me bedside
the still waters."
And then I can go on to say, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.
They rod and thy staff, they comfort me!"

Jesus, our caring Shepherd will use His rod and His staff in a thousand ways to keep us from falling.
We shall never fully know until we arrive in heaven how many ways we were kept by our Lord from many dangers,
and from many broken bones, and even from what would have been a fatal mistake, but our Lord went before us
and spared us.

Maybe, we rebelled at the interference of the rod.
And we didn't appreciate the prodding of the staff.

This verse must mean more to us than just words on a printed page.
This verse must be a living power and presence in our lives.
The wonderful words of Psalm 23 will bring purpose and power to us who are walking through the valley of the shadow
of death
... More

Come And Dine!    --  Psalm 23:5   (Tenth Sermon Psalm 23 series)
The shepherd is driven and motivated by the fact that the sheep are under his charge, and they are utterly
and totally dependent upon him for all things.
If the Good Shepherd does not prepare the table, the sheep are doomed.
It's as simple as that.

Of course, David is never just talking about sheep.
He is also talking about people, and he is using the vividness of the natural world of sheep and shepherds
to give us this wonderful psalm.
Isaiah describes the Lord as Shepherd (40:11) as well as a host inviting to a feast with unlimited
and infinitely satisfying food and drink (55:1-3), where the presence of enemies is eclipsed
by the Lord's presence.

In Psalm 23, we learn about the shepherd's diligent and loving, sacrificial preparation for his sheep
which also applies to what the Lord has done for us.

"Thou preparest a table,"
Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is around us
and yet, God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were just perfect.
God provides a magnificent banquet for us.
He not only has the provisions to feed us; He also has the power to protect us.
And, even though we are surrounded by enemies, we can sit down at this table with confidence,
knowing that we can feast in His perfect protection.

God's people do have enemies.
The Bible teaches that every Christian has many enemies and we will have them as long as we live.
Christians are pilgrims and strangers here on earth.
We are runners in a race.
We are sheep in a sheepfold.
We are only branches on a vine.

The Bible says that we are soldiers engaged in a battle against spiritual enemies.
The Christian faces three terrible enemies.
They are the world, the flesh , and the devil.
All three enemies are always ready to defeat us.

Fill My Cup, Lord!   Psalm 23:5  (Eleventh sermon of Psalm 23 series)
"The Lord is my shepherd...my cup overflows."
This is the way believers live.
We live in the overflow, and from the overflow.
We have received blessings of God which are too numerous to count, and the benefits overflow,
and even "soak" those around us.

Experiencing the goodness of the Lord cannot be contained.
It flows freely in expressions of our praise and worship, in our kindnesses, and in our conversations
and interactions with others.
This overflow-living is natural, spontaneous, and continuous.

Our cup just keep on running over.
Suppose, our portion of blessings were measured by the returns that we have given back to God
for all His mercies that we have enjoyed?

We would probably be starving.
What am I doing for Him who died to save my lost and wretched soul?
Will I refuse to remember what little service that I have given to my Lord?
Instead of being thankful for His great love and sacrifice for me, have I put it aside as something not worth

Out of habit, we give our little to Him who gave His life for us.
How feeble is our teaching
What little power there is in our preaching!
How heartless is our praying!
How little is our giving!
And how little are our returns compared with what we owe to Him from whom we have received all
that we possess!

We are ungrateful sheep.
If our portion of food were measured out according to our labor and devotion, our feast days would be
few and far between.

I would ask for each one of you, "How would it be with you, if God had filled your cup in proportion
to your faith and your service to Him?”
How much would you have in your cup?

God’s Goodness And Mercy Psalm 23:6 (Twelfth sermon of Psalm 23 series)
Psalm 23 begins with the psalmist living a pleasant, comfortable life, symbolized by a lush, green meadow
and cool, still water.
Then something happens to shatter our comfortable life.
It may have been an illness or rejection or loss of a job.
Many times it is the death of a loved one.

So the psalmist struggles through this dark time, in the valley of the shadow of death, cries out to God.
And then, he learns that his Shepherd is guiding him through everything that comes to him.
This we have learned, as we have been living in this great chapter.
Psalm 23 is simply said, but very profound, and yet, so easily understood.
Every phrase and every word expounds who God is, and what He does for every Christian.
God's sovereignty is evident in every sentence
Psalm 23 is like a spiritual oasis in the desert, and like a refuge in the storms of life.
We are standing upon sacred ground as we study Psalm 23.

We must see ourselves as sheep who are dumb, dependent, and defenseless, to understand
the many spiritual blessings in Psalm 23
Every verse stresses the benefits of the flock who are under the care of their good Shepherd.
Then the psalmist sums up all the benefits by saying, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days on my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. "

No matter what happens, our Shepherd has proven faithful, and we can be perfectly assured that goodness
and mercy will pursue us all the days of our lives.
Remember, we are sheep.

Do we really believe that no matter what happens, goodness and mercy are ours?
"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life" is a message of affirmation
of the grace and power of God, and of how our Shepherd cares for us and guides us through every day
of our lives.

So, these closing words of Psalm 23 point to God's continued blessings.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

Dwelling In The House Of The Lord Psalm 23:6 (Thirteenth sermon of Psalm 23 series)
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house
of the Lord forever."

With these verses, the Psalm moves from the pasture to the banquet table. with David sitting at the banquet
table in the Father's house.
God had provided David with the necessities of life, such as forgiveness, redemption, healing his diseases,
and then giving him eternal life when his days on earth were over.

He describes these blessings of necessities from God as God "anointing his head with oil."
His cup was not only full, but "over-flowing."
Now David is resting mentally and spiritually.
He has remembered how faithful God has been to him.
And in verse 6, he experiences the powerful presence of God as he says,
"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me (will chase me) all the days
of my life ..and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

David was an old man when he wrote the Twenty-third Psalm.
He had seen tragedies and disappointments, but he also had come to know God as the good Shepherd
who gives His children more than they deserve.
The good Shepherd provided all that he needed.
He provided David rest from his weary journey, and safety from his enemies.
He gave David guidance through his life, and then, David was taken to the Father's house.

In our study of Psalm 23, we know that we are sheep, and this psalm is about us.
Those who belong to the Lord; those who are the sheep of His pasture, those who are pursued in this life
by His goodness and love; those are the ones who will live forever in the house of the Lord in heaven.

"...And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

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