One Week With Psalm 23

The first verse I ever memorized was "God is love."
The second verse I memorized was John 3:16
The third 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, and 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.

First Day: The Lord Will Work For Me!
" The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Second Day: The Lord Will Provide For Me!
" He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters

Third Day: The Lord Will Keep Me Going!
" He restores my soul."

Fourth Day: The Lord Will Guide Me!
" He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake

Fifth Day: The Lord Will Protect Me!
"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

Sixth Day: The Lord Will Heal Me!
" You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My runs over

Seventh Day: The Lord Will Pursue Me!
" Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever

We should feed daily upon God's Word.
We must chew it, and digest it.
Let us take a look at the seven amazing, comforting promises in Psalm 23.

David, the shepherd-king of Israel, prayed these words to his Lord.
David based this psalm upon his experiences as a shepherd.
The psalm is loaded with a lot of imagery and knowledge about the husbandry of sheep.
Of course, there are deeper meanings as we learn how a shepherd cares for his sheep.

As we read this psalm our minds begin to focus on our Lord Jesus Christ who said,
"I am the good shepherd." (John 10:11)
Jesus is the "Great Shepherd of the sheep."

Day One: The Lord Will Work For Us.

That is an amazing truth!
The secret of our life in Christ is not our work for Him, but the work He does in us,
through us, and for us.
Nothing frees us from fear as much as knowing that at any moment, any day in all the activities
and anxieties and fears that attack us, our Great Shepherd is always working for our welfare.

We never need to be in want.
A good shepherd is constantly thinking ahead for places where his sheep can graze.
He is also looking for places where they can quench their thirst.
Our Good Shepherd knows what we need before we even ask, and He is always ahead of us,
and is preparing us for what we need, and when we need it.
Our Good Shepherd cares about all our headaches and heartaches.

We know this, so why do we continue to be anxious and filled with worry?
We often stray from the flock.
We often resist the plans our Shepherd has made, and think we can find better pastures on our own.
Sheep have a will of their own, and so do we.

Worry causes us to take things into our own hands, so we usually try to work things out for ourselves.
Also, we have the misunderstanding that we are to strive to work for the Lord to be accepted
and approved by Him.
That misleading idea has been around for a long time.
Of course, this is a falsehood.
We are to be recipients of the Lord's wisdom, His Love, and His strength.
Knowing that Christ lives in us, we should also know that we can always depend on Him
to work within us and lead us through every problem that plagues us.

It is true that we work, but we work with His grace and His awesome power.
We will be amazed constantly at all the wonderful blessings that He has prepared for us.
We must utilize the thoughts, the strength, and the opportunities that He provides.

I heard my pastor tell the story of the little boy who said the first verse of Psalm 23 like this:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I don't want anything else."
It has also been said as: "The Lord is my shepherd; I don't need anything else."

That expression should be ours in our personal relationship with our Shepherd
when we trust Him to work for us.

There is a great illustration about two men who repeated the 23rd psalm in a church service.
One was a great actor.
He repeated Psalm 23 with eloquence.
Then, a little old man walked down the aisle of the church; and up to the platform, leaned on his cane,
and began to repeat the words from memory.

He finished, and the congregation sat in silence.
They had clapped for the great actor, but they were silent for the little old man.
The actor stood up, and said,
"I know the shepherd psalm, but this great man knows the Shepherd."

When we can say, "The Lord is my shepherd," we can also say, "I shall not want."
When we move from the generalities, and from cultural or religious ideas, and from creeds, rites,
and or rituals into a dynamic, personal relationship for which we are ours as the sheep of the Lord,
then we can say, "There is nothing I want," or "I don't want anything else."

This is what every Christian should say, "Lord, I need you more than I need any gift that You can give me,
and more than any solution that the wisest person on earth could give.
Lord, I will follow you as my Good Shepherd
Can you say that?
Have you ever said that?
In your heart, say it now!

Day Two: The Lord Will Provide For Us.

Our Good Shepherd leads us day by day to all that we truly need.
Green pastures and still waters describe what the sheep needed.
They are grazing areas that provide exactly the kind of food that the sheep needed.
Sheep will not usually lie down until they are fed and satisfied and and have no fear.
There are some who have said that you can't make a sheep lie down, and you can't push it down,
unless some its basic needs have been met.

A sheep must be free of fear.
Also its coat must be cleared of any of the of parasites that would disturb as it rested in the green grass.
I have also read that a sheep will not lie down while it is still hungry.
Only a contented sheep lie down.

That's why David, in declaring his own faith, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures,"
is really saying, "He has fed me with exactly what I need."
The most important thing is that the sheep will not lie down without the knowledge
that the shepherd is with them.

It is important that the sheep have still water.
A sheep will not go close to running, fast-moving water.
If it fell or if is pushed into the water, it's heavy coat of wool would soon be saturated, and it would drown.
Sheep have learned to fear rushing, moving water.
They will only drink water from still and calm pools.
The shepherd knows this, and he is always looking for the calm, watering places where his sheep
will drink, and then, they will be able to rest.

Day Three: The Lord Will Keep Us Going.
That's what David is saying when he said, "He restores my soul." (Verse 3)

We need to learn about downcast sheep.
The word, "downcast", comes from sheep husbandry.

A "cast" sheep is one that has rested in the green grass next to a hollow in the ground
and, as a result of the force of gravity, has rolled over on its back.
A sheep that is covered with heavy wool, or is fat, or has gotten into a position where it cannot avoid
the rolling-over danger, has become a "cast" sheep.
It is from that image that we get the idea of "down-cast".
Downcast is being in a condition in which you can't roll back onto your feet.

Putting a sheep back on its feet is a tender process that must be done just right.
The shepherd must take the sheep, and lift it up.
Since being on its back has caused the blood to drain from its legs and feet,
the shepherd must rub its legs until the sheep is able to stand.
A shepherd knows the right moment when he can let go of the sheep.

So, what does that mean to us?
It means that the Lord will get us back on our feet.

David knew how the Lord takes care of downcast people.
He probably wrote this shepherd's psalm later in his life when he could look back
and remember all the times that he had been on his back, unable to move
when he was paralyzed by the failures of his life.
Each time, the Lord restored his soul.

In using the word "soul", David was referring to his whole being, his life.
The Lord restores "me" !

Have you ever been restored by the Lord when you been downcast?
The Lord will get us on our feet.
He will get us going again, and keep us going.
The fourth day will tell us how He will do that?

Day Four: The Lord Will Guide Us.
"…He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." (Verse 3)

The words are filled with incredible meaning.
Righteousness is a right relationship with the Lord, based on accepting His love and forgiveness
as a gift of grace.
He gives us with the capacity of faith to respond to complete justification made possible
through the His shed blood on the cross.
We don't deserve it, and we can earn it.
We have that relationship because He has declared us forgiven, and accepted,
and will live with Him throughout all eternity.
He will never leave us, and He will not let us go.

Many try to negate that by seeking to justify ourselves by goodness, by hard work, or by efforts
to earn what is ours already.
We can trust our Good Shepherd to lead us away from those dead-ends.

This great 23rd psalm means that we can depend on the Lord to direct our decisions
which will keep us in the very center of His will.
Our great Shepherd will use our prayers, and guide our thinking, and He will lead us
to those Scriptures, that will help us make good and right decisions.

Our need is to commit our decisions to our Lord before they are made,
and to think upon those things that will cause us to make the right decision.
We can be sure that He will show us the path that not only is right, but will help us grow
in the realization of our righteousness in Him.

Day Five: The Lord Will Also Protect Us.
"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
." (verse 4)

The valley of the shadow of death might be translated, "the glen of deep gloom."
David uses a familiar Hebrew term as he describes walking in a dangerous place,
or through a difficult experience, and even facing death itself.
A portion of that road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea was called the Valley of the Shadow.
Even there, his shepherd would be with him.

Any enemy that might attack would be defeated.
He learned that from the many battles that he encountered throughout his life.
The way he cared for his sheep as a shepherd boy in Judea was an example for him
of the way the Lord would continue to care for him.

The protecting care of the shepherd was symbolized by his rod and staff.
The rod was taken from the lower trunk and upper roots of a sapling, including the roundness
of where the roots were connected to the trunk.
At the end of the rod there was a gnarled ball that made the three to four-foot rod a powerful weapon.
A shepherd learned to throw it with deadly accuracy, and could also use it to beat off his attackers.

The shepherds staff had a crook on the end of it.
It was used not only to reach out to grab a wandering sheep to keep the sheep together.
A shepherd handled a new lamb by the crook because if he touched it with his hands,
the smell of his hands would make the mother reject the lamb.
The staff was the instrument of tender care.

For David, it meant the Lord's protection and His grace.
For us, it is a sign that when we follow His leadership, He will guides us and surrounds us
with His protecting care..

The phrase, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies," (verse 5)
is filled with meaning, not only because of the activities of a shepherd,
but also because of the nomadic customs of that time.
For the shepherd, the table meant those grazing lands high in the mountains that could be reached
after the snow receded.
The shepherd carefully prepared the grazing area.
He went before the sheep on his hands and knees going through the grass,
pulling up any of the noxious weeds, briars, or thorny growths that would cause difficulty for the sheep.

David also knew of the custom that a person could not be attacked while eating in another man's tent.
If you could reach a friend's tent -- even though your enemies were in hot pursuit -- you were safe at his table.
The Lord feeds us with His grace and holds the enemies of life -- the enemies of our soul,
the things that cause us to be afraid, frustrated, and anxious.

Day Six: The Lord Will Heal Us.

The healing ministry of the shepherd for the sheep was very important.
I read of a blind shepherd who knew the faces of all his sheep by the touch of his hand.
Can you feel the Lord's hand upon your face, knowing you as unique and special,
and as the recipient of His loving care?

The anointing oil of the shepherd was made up of olive oil, sulphur, and spices to keep off the gnats
and flies and insects, and would penetrate the cuts and bruises on the face of the sheep.
Anointing in the Hebrew-Christian tradition means the blessing of the Lord, the healing of the Lord,
the appointment of the Lord, and the joy of the Lord.
To be anointed by Him is to have Him place His loving hand upon us, and fill us with His Spirit.

Cup is the portion -- literally, in Hebrew, " my life."
God makes our lives overflow.
When He anoints us with the oil of His healing, our heart is filled with a joy that we cannot contain.

Day Seven: The Lord Pursues Us.
In every situation, the Lord will provide our needs with His mercy and goodness.

The word for "follow" used here is to "pursue".
Just as the shepherd's dogs followed the flock, keeping them together with their watchful care,
the Lord comes to us with His "goodness and mercy" in those times when we are afraid.

The goodness of the Lord includes His consistency.
He cannot be other than He is.
He is a forgiving, accepting, caring Friend who knows our needs and comes to us,
pursuing us and keeping us close to Him and His flock.
The Lord calms our turbulent emotions with the assurance that He will be with us in spite of everything.

He will never let us go.
In great assurance David wrote, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (verse 6)
Jesus said, "In my father's house are many mansions." (John 14:2)
The word means, "abiding places or abodes", promising not only eternal security,
but assuring us of our continual relationship with the Lord here and now.

There are many times when we cry out, "Lord, help me!" and He is with us.
He gives us exactly what we need.
Not even death can separate us from Him.
We are alive forever!

Some years ago Sir Harry Lauder sang with such with joy and peace that his audience felt.
He was singing this just after he had lost his son in an untimely death.
When he finished, people gave him a standing ovation.
They would not stop clapping.
Finally, after several curtain calls, he stopped the thunderous applause, and said,
"Don't thank me, thank the good Lord, the Shepherd of my life, for He put the song in my heart."

Sing your song, sing the song of your Shepherd.
He'll work for you; He'll provide for you; He'll guide you; He'll protect you; He'll heal you.
He'll pursue you, and He will never let you go.

The Lord is my Shepherd.
Is He yours?

Yes, He is.
Claim His love.
Trust Him.

Pray the Shepherd's Psalm daily.
Memorize it, and repeat its promises all through the days of your life,
and you will live with freedom from fear today, next week, and forever.

Dr. Charles Allen tells the story of a friend who came to see him one day.
His friend was nervous, tense, and had literally worried himself sick.
The man's physician had suggested that he see his minister.
They talked for awhile, and then, Allen took a pad of paper from his desk drawer.

"If you went to see a doctor, he would give you a prescription, and that's what I want to do," Allen said.
"Take the prescription exactly as I write it.
Five times a day for seven days, I want you to read prayerfully and carefully the twenty-third psalm.
When you awaken, before each meal and at bedtime, read the psalm

Charles Allen says that in a week his friend returned as a completely, different person.

The power of the Shepherd's psalm is a prescription for the problems and pressures of our day.
One of the things that we certainly need if we are going to have a life worth living is a faith
in something that is big enough for life.
The psalmist begins where we always need to begin..."The Lord is my shepherd."

This sermon was influenced by a sermon by Lloyd Ogilvie in his book, Falling Into Greatness.