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Sermon #2466 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “The Lord is My Shepherd”
Text: Psalm 23:1-6
Subject: Comfort for Christ’s Sheep
Date: Tuesday Evening — January 15, 2019
Readings: Lindsay Campbell — Jimmy Bowman
As you know, we have dear friends who are, by the wise and good hand of our Heavenly Father, passing through deep waters.
Trying to pray for them, God the Holy Ghost has kept one passage Holy Scripture on my heart almost incessantly for the past two days. It is familiar and, I hope, precious to you all. — The 23rd Psalm. I am sure you can recite the Psalm from memory, but I want you to open your Bibles to Psalm 23 and read it with me.
(Psalm 23:1-6) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Testimony of Scripture
“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD.” — What a blessed, blessed subject! — “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD.” Throughout the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior, is revealed to us as a Shepherd. Blessed is that man, blessed is that woman, blessed is that child who can, with a heart of faith, say, “The Lord is my Shepherd!”
In Genesis 49:24, it was promised that “the Shepherd, the stone of Israel,” would come from “the mighty God of Jacob.” Indeed, our Shepherd is the mighty God of Jacob.
The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:11) tells us what Christ will do for his sheep when he reveals himself as our Shepherd. — “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
In Ezekiel 34:23, God promised that in this Gospel Age he would gather his elect from the four corners of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, under one great Shepherd. — “I will set up one Shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their Shepherd.” In chapter 37, verse 24, the prophet tells us plainly that God’s elect “all shall have one Shepherd.”
Then, in Zechariah 13:7, we have a plain prophecy of Christ’s death, a prophecy of the good Shepherd laying down his life for his sheep. God himself cries, “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow!...Smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”
You are all familiar with the passage in John 10, where our Lord Jesus Christ describes himself as our Shepherd. — “I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (v. 11). “I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (v. 14).
The apostle Paul describes the Lord Jesus Christ as “Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep” and calls his blood “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). And the apostle Peter says, “Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). And he assures us that “when the chief Shepherd shall appear, we shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4).
The Lord Jesus Christ was called and appointed by his Father and our Father to be our Shepherd in the covenant of grace, before the world began. And by an act of great, condescending grace and infinite love, he freely, voluntarily agreed to be our Shepherd. Thus, from old eternity, Christ assumed all responsibility for the redemption, salvation, and eternal welfare of God’s elect, his sheep (John 10:14-18).
(John 10:14-18) “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (15) As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (16) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (17) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (18) No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
Our great and glorious Lord Jesus Christ is abundantly qualified to be our Shepherd. He is the omniscient God. He knows all his sheep, all our maladies and all our needs. He knows where his sheep are, what their case is, and what must be done for them.
Christ, our Shepherd, is omnipotent. He is the almighty God. He has all power in heaven and earth. He can do all things for us. None of his sheep are or can be in danger. This Shepherd can and will provide for his sheep, protect his sheep, defend his sheep, and save his sheep. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He will guide and direct his sheep in the best path and bring them all at last into the heavenly fold. Oh, may God the Holy Spirit teach us to trust our Savior as the Lord our Shepherd!
Proposition: Because the Lord my Shepherd, I have nothing to fear and everything to give me comfort, hope, peace, and joy.
I can think of no better, more instructive, more God honoring, or more soul satisfying way to describe Christ as our Shepherd than by using the words of David’s sweetest psalm. In Psalm 23, David declares a blessed fact which he perceived and rejoiced in by faith. He says, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” As his heart meditated upon this blessed fact, he began to realize the blessings that would surely flow to him because the Lord, Jehovah, the one true and living God, was and is his Shepherd. We will look at these six verses line by line. I pray that God the Holy Spirit will be our Teacher. And I trust that each of us can repeat the words of David in this Psalm, as words expressive of our own hearts’ faith. I am going to use this psalm just as David was inspired to write it, in the first person singular. I take each word as my own. I have proved them countless times in the last 52 years. As we read these verses together, I hope you can read them in the first person singular, as your very own words, expressing your very own, personal experience of God’s goodness and grace in Christ Jesus. Just jump in wherever you can. We will begin with verse one.
1st — Here is my possession. — “The Lord is my Shepherd!” — What a word of faith this is! David does not say, “The Lord is our Shepherd.” He says, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” He does not say, “The Lord was,” or “The Lord shall be,” but “The Lord is my Shepherd.” He does not say, “I hope,” or “I think.” David speaks with confidence and assurance, saying, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” He knew that the Lord was his Shepherd for one reason. — He trusted the Lord as his Shepherd. And I know the Lord is my Shepherd for one reason and one reason only. I trust him. He has, by his Spirit, by his grace, by his power, given me faith in him as my Shepherd. I acknowledge to God and to you my entire dependence upon Christ as sheep upon their Shepherd. Trusting Christ as his Shepherd, David could not doubt his interest in his Shepherd.
It is one thing for the Shepherd to say, “This is my sheep.” But it is another thing for the sheep to say, “This is my shepherd.” When David says, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” he is expressing his…
Š Faith in Christ,
Š Affection for Christ,
Š Joy because of Christ.
If you trust Christ, he is your Shepherd too. If the good Shepherd has called you and caused you to hear his voice, if you follow him, that is to say, if you trust him, you are one of his sheep, and he is your Shepherd (John 10:1-5, 26-28).
(John 10:1-5) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (2) But he that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. (3) To him the Porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. (4) And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (5) And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”
(John 10:26-28) “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Settle this one question, and it will settle all others. — Do you trust the Lord Jesus Christ? If you do, you are one of his saved sheep (Mark 16:16).
(Mark 16:16) “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
We must not fail to observe the position of this psalm. It follows Psalm 22, the Psalm of the Cross. Spurgeon wrote, “We must by experience know the value of the blood-shedding and see the sword awakened against the Shepherd, before we shall be able truly to know the sweetness of the good Shepherd’s care.”
If the Lord is my Shepherd, and I cannot doubt that he is, I belong to him! I am his property. He owns me. And the fact that I belong to the Son of God gives me utmost confidence and security and inspires my heart to daily consecrate myself to him.
I was chosen of God and given to Christ as one of his elect sheep from the foundation of the world (John 6:37-40). — The Shepherd is responsible for the sheep!
(John 6:37-40) “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (39) And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Christ has redeemed me and purchased me with his own blood (John 10:11-14).
(John 10:11-14) “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (12) But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (13) The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”
Christ, my Shepherd, has sought me, found me, and saved me by his grace (Luke 15:3-5).
(Luke 15:3-5) “And he spake this parable unto them, saying, (4) What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (5) And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
Christ Jesus protects me, keeps me, preserves me, and promises that I shall never perish (John 10:27-30).
(John 10:27-30) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (30) I and my Father are one.”
The Lord, who is my Shepherd, will bring me safe to heaven at last (Luke 15:6-7).
(Luke 15:6-7) “And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (7) I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
Š When I die, my Shepherd will carry me home with joy.
Š At the appointed hour, my Shepherd will appear and raise my body to glory (1 Peter 5:4).
(1 Peter 5:4) “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
Š And what he does for me he will do for all his sheep (John 10:16).
(John 10:16) “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
One of the most delightful words in this opening sentence is that little personal, possessive pronoun “my.” I rejoice in knowing that Christ is the good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep, that he is the great Shepherd who arose and reigns in heaven for his sheep, and that he is the chief Shepherd who is coming again for his sheep; but, frankly, that would all be meaningless to me, if I could not lift my heart to heaven and say “The Lord is my Shepherd.
Notice this too. — The text is in the present tense. Whatever your position or condition is, sheep of Christ, you are under the watchful care of Christ your Shepherd. Everywhere and always, he watches over us, cares for us, protects us, provides for us, and preserves us. The Lord is my Shepherd; and I am his sheep. — My name is engraved upon the palms of his hands!
Do you see the meaning of those words? “The Lord is my Shepherd!” — That is our great possession! Meditate upon this blessed fact. What may faith deduce from it? David tells us. He describes our great privileges as Christ’s sheep in the next lines.
2nd — Here are my privileges. Because the Lord is my Shepherd, “I shall not want.” Faith must draw this conclusion. If the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want anything, for having him, I have everything (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
(Romans 8:32) “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
(1 Corinthians 3:21-23) “All things are yours; (22) Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; (23) And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”
I shall not want any temporal good thing. None of Christ’s sheep lack anything in this world that is good, needful, and useful for them (Psalm 37:25; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 22:35). Sheep do not feed, clothe, and protect themselves. They are fed, clothed, and protected by their Shepherd.
(Psalms 37:25) “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
(Mark 10:29-30) “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, (30) But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
(Luke 22:35) “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing.”
More importantly, I shall not want any spiritual good thing (Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 2:9-10).
(Ephesians 1:3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
(Colossians 2:9-10) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
Christ is the One in whom all fulness dwells. And we have all our needs supplied in him, by him, and from him. — Our souls shall never want for spiritual food, for by him we go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9).
We shall never want for clothing, for he is “The Lord our Righteousness” and we are clothed with the robe of his righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). He clothes us with “the garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10).
(Isaiah 61:10) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Our hearts shall never want rest, for he is our Resting Place, our Sabbath, in whom we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
(Matthew 11:28-30) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
These words could be translated, “I shall not fail,” or “I shall not come short.” Then the meaning would be, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not fail to attain eternal glory and happiness” (John 10:27-30). — “They shall never perish!”
Multitudes who are wealthier and wiser than I am are always in want. I have all things and abound, not because my bank account is full, but because “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” (v. 2). — These green pastures are all found in the Word of God. Christ graciously, tenderly makes his sheep lie down in the green pastures of his Word, where we find rest, safety, satisfaction, and peace. — There the grass is always tall, lush, and green, and the never bare (Song of Solomon 1:7).
(Song of Solomon 1:7) Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
What are these green pastures of Holy Scripture? I can only mention a few. But I will hold these before you, so that you may both feed and refresh your soul.
“He leadeth me beside the still waters” (v. 2). — What a gentle word, “leadeth!” Gently, thoughtfully, tenderly, Christ leads his sheep, like Jacob of old, to the soft, deep, quiet waters, as they are able to bear it (Genesis 33:14). The Lord Jesus does not drive us with the whip of the law. He leads us by his Word, his example, and his Spirit beside the waters of quietness. To these waters of quietness we would never come if our good Shepherd did not lead us, graciously, gently, but always effectually.
(Psalm 46:4) “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.”
(Isaiah 55:1) “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
(Revelation 7:15-17) “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
“He restoreth my soul” (v. 3). — How often he has come to me, when I could not go to him, when my soul was downcast, fainting, and disconsolate! Day by day, Jehovah, my Shepherd, restoreth my soul! When I stray, he fetches me back to himself. When I seem to be dying within, he relieves me, refreshes me, comforts me, and revives me with...
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake” (v. 3). — Christ leads all his sheep in the same paths. Sometimes the paths chosen for us seem rough and rugged. But they are his paths. They are paths of righteousness. And they lead us home. — These paths of righteousness are the paths are plural.
Our Shepherd leads us in these paths. Again, I stress, he does not drive us in paths of righteousness. He leads his sheep by:
Commenting on this passage, John Gill rightly observed, “Christ leads his (sheep) by faith to walk on in him and in his righteousness, looking through it, and on account of it, for eternal life.”
And he so leads us “for his name’s sake,” for his own glory and the praise of his grace. — “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29).
3rd — Look at verse four, and let me tell you about my protection. — “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
This I know — If Christ leads me in his path, I must, as long as I live in this world, walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Believers in this world must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And those trials and tribulations are the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 44:18-19; 107:10, 14; Jeremiah 13:15-17).
Though I must walk through this valley of the shadow of death, “I will fear no evil.” Why? It is the Lord my Shepherd, who leads me into it and through it. How can I fear, when my Shepherd walks with me? — “I will fear no evil.”
(Psalms 27:1-4) “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (2) When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. (3) Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. (4) One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.”
(Psalms 46:1-4) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (2) Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; (3) Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. (4) There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.”
There is no reason for one whose refuge, strength, and help the Lord is to fear anything. Child of God, there is no reason for you to fear.
“For thou art with me” (Isaiah 41:10; 43:1-2).
(Isaiah 41:10) “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
(Isaiah 43:1-5) “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.”
“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” — The allusion here is to the shepherd’s staff, by which he both counted his sheep and directed his sheep (Leviticus 27:32; Jeremiah 33:13; Ezekiel 20:37; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 11:7). — His word is a rod of strength. And his promises are a staff of consolation. By these we are sustained and comforted in the midst of all our trial. — The Shepherd’s rod has many uses.
1. The crook is used to retrieve straying sheep.
2. The rod is used to direct the sheep.
3. The rod is also used to protect the sheep. — And
4. The rod is used for numbering the sheep when he brings them into the fold. — Conversion! — In Glory!
Soon we must pass through the last of our trials. We all must go down to the grave. But remember, it is but “the valley of the shadow of death” for us. And we will pass through it! There is no cause for fear! It is a valley through which believers walk, calmly, confidently, purposefully.
4th — “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (v. 5). — Because the Lord is my Shepherd and I am his sheep, this is my great, unfailing, constant provision.
Š On Earth — Yes, God can furnish a table in the wilderness (Psalm 78:19).
Š In Heaven
Illustration: The Rich Man and Lazarus
“Thou anointest my head with oil” (v. 5). — The allusion here is to the custom in those ancient eastern countries, to anoint the heads of guests with oil at any feast or celebration (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8; Matthew 6:17). David is saying, “Christ pours out the oil of gladness upon all his people. He gives his Holy Spirit to all his own.” He is talking about the anointing of the Spirit which all believers have (1 John 2:20-27).
“My cup runneth over” (v. 5). — Realizing that Christ is my Shepherd, realizing something of what he has done, is doing, and shall do for me, realizing a little of the fulness of grace he bestows upon me, I must confess, “my cup runneth over!”
Š All the blessings of the covenant are mine!
Š All things in time are mine!
Š All the bounty of Heaven is mine!
Š Christ is mine!
Š If my cup runs over, it is so that the overflow may fill the cups of others.
Illustration: The Lord is my Shepherd. He’s all I want.
5th — If I am so over abundantly blessed of God, I ought always to be a man of contentment and peace. Read verse 6, and you will see my prospect. I hope it is yours, too. This is what I have experienced for 68 years; and this is what I expect to experience tomorrow and throughout the days of my sojourn through this valley of the shadow of death. — Because the Lord my Shepherd, I must make this conclusion. — “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (v. 6). —
“And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v. 6).
“A servant abideth not in the house forever, but the son abideth ever!” — While I am here, I will be a child at home with Christ. The whole world is my Father’s house. When I leave this world, I will not change company, or even addresses, I will just move upstairs in the Father’s house! I hope you will all come and join me. — Now, let’s see if we can read this blessed Psalm.
Illustration: I know the psalm. He knows the Shepherd.
Psalm 23 — “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”