Key Text: Psalm 23
As the shepherd boy David guarded his sheep in the fields outside Bethlehem, he put the worlds most famous psalm into action, and for about 3000 years, it’s still being sung. It is likely that in the same field David first made this psalm, the angels appeared 1000 years later to announce to shepherds ‘good tidings of great joy’ (Luke 2:8-15). The coming of Christ as a baby is the gift of life, which David sang about. Psalm 23 is NOT a Psalm about death, it’s about life which the Great & Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11) provides. The life in baby Jesus grew to be the Good Shepherd David sang about. David must have loved the truth of our God being a Shepherd, he mentions it several times, Psa. 77:20, 78:52, 95:7, 100:3.
Sheep have always and will always need shepherding. They must trust a Shepherd, they are one of the most vulnerable of animals. Their vulnerability lay in the fact that they MUST graze for their diet and can’t live well being kept corralled in and grain fed, like cattle or chickens. While grazing they are open for attack by wild animals and have no defence whatsoever, they don’t run fast, they don’t have horns like goats and they don’t seem to realize that there is strength in numbers, they instead roam and stray away from each other singly. So they must innately trust a higher power (the shepherd) for the existence of their very life in survival! Christians are compared to sheep, not as an insult, but as a lesson for us, reminding us that we must listen for our Shepherds voice for our survival, Jn. 10:3-5. Psalm 23 helps us praise Him for his constant supervision and provision maintaining our life, even when death seems imminent.David killed a lion and a bear to protect his sheep as a young man, he was not a coward and this experience later led him to kill Goliath, (1Samuel 17:12-58), and our Shepherd in Christ is much more powerful, he faced Satan himself and defeated every temptation. He also faced religious & political leaders with the truth and bravely underwent torture from them, to the extent of being killed in order to overcome death itself. There is no greater courage or love than this, Jn. 10:16-18 & 15:13.
We should continually praise him because we trust in his constant care & protection. The providential care of Jesus is real. Paul reminded Timothy of what we should be content with, 1Tim. 6:8, “food, clothing & shelter”, and the Psalmist sang that he, all through his many years on earth, had “not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging for bread”, Psa. 37:25. But how many of us sheep beg for luxuries? If we catch ourselves desiring luxuries, we must listen to the voice of Jesus in Luke 16:15. If we are a faithful child of God, our necessities will be met, James 1:16-17 & 1:27-2:9. Do we believe this? Then pray so, Matthew 5:11, and then be willing to live like it, Eph. 4:28.
The protection Jesus gives, over our soul’s welfare and spirit’s strength is truly active. Matthew 18:10-14 records Jesus as a Shepherd rescuing 1 sheep lost, while temporarily leaving 99 safe ones. God always searches for lost sheep, and when we cooperate in the rescue effort He puts forth, God always rejoices when we are found. The shepherd did not punish or even berate the lost sheep, Lk 15:6. This should remind us of how different we are to sheep. Our shepherd Jesus expects us to cooperate with his rescue attempts, we are not completely helpless woolly back dumb animals. The voice of Jesus does more than just call, He instructs, and if we don’t cooperate, we fall into the peril of sin as lost sheep recorded in Hebrews 6:4-6 . The Israelites who complained about God’s leading Shepherd Moses, were killed, Hebrews 3:15-19 & Numbers 14:1-23. We now have a superior Shepherd in Jesus. Who is complaining? We must tell Him of our trust, this is good medicine to prevent us from complaining!