Psalms 23 Waking With The Shepherd: 3 My WayPsalms 23:3
, probably when he was older and was reflecting back on his time as a shepherd boy before becoming King. that repeats ideas instead of sounds as our poetry does. as it follows the Shepherd from the lowland pastures in the spring through the narrow valley and up to the highland tablelands of summer. of that journey at the end of spring and the beginning of summer.
Like David’s sheep, we must learn to follow our shepherd Jesus Christ along the paths of righteousness to safe pastures and a closer relationship with Him. We must also expect that there will be times when in the course of my travels with the shepherd that I will need to be restored. In verse three David reflects upon the Lord's leading of his sheep and his care for them when they are cast down and need the Shepherd's care.
He Restoreth My Soul
The word "restore" means that somewhere in the life of the sheep something has gone wrong.
There is a need, a problem or a trial that has caused the soul to sink and joy to waver.
David wrote of such times in his own life in Psalms 42.
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
David in Psalms 42 describes the condition of his soul as cast down. It is at these hard times in David's life that he looked for the restoration of his soul by the Shepherd. Phillip Keller describes a literal sheep in trouble with that word "cast."
It seems that a cast sheep was one which because of it's long filthy coat, fatness or an accident falls onto it's back and cannot regain it's feet. In this condition it will die unless righted by the shepherd of the flock. After a short time, gases build up in the body of the sheep which cut off the blood flow. Predators will wait for the cast sheep because it is helpless and an easy meal and then move in to take its life. A cast sheep is completely helpless unless the Shepherd comes to its resuce.
As Christians we often need restoration, we can easily found ourselves cast down.But many times our biggest problem is not in getting help, for the Shepherd is there waiting, but our problem is in refusing to admit we need it.
There is a mistaken belief that good Christians, real Christians shouldn't ever be down, depressed or even afraid. Even worse is the idea that if we are down we shouldn't admit it. Yet, if this was true many of the Psalms would be never have been written.Founding ourselves cast down is a fact of life on this earth and in this body.
There are many reasons why this is true. "
In the same way that a fat sheep can easily lose its feet and become cast we as Christian's are more easily cast down when we are weighed down with the world. .
Matthew 13: 22 And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he that heareth the word; and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
The heavy wool of the sheep can become matted with sticks and dirt. This can make the sheep top-heavy and once he falls it is difficult to get back up. This overcoat is the result of the sin and rebellion in my life. It attaches itself to life and drags me down until I can no longer stand.
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Sometimes the same green pastures and still waters we enjoy can cause the sheep's downfall. We grow lazy and weak in the lushness of the pastures, when a difficulty arises we cannot right ourselves on weak, out of shape legs. We can become a cast sheep by prosperity.
Deut 8:11-14 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. ¶ Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth..
We are told to "Lay aside the weight and the sin, but how do we do that?
I must let the shepherd do his work. The Lord chastens and scourges to cut away the sin, like a shepherd who shears the sheep and cuts away its overgrown and dirty coat of wool.
Look at the Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
With chastening we find the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
The hands that hung down can be lifted up,
The feeble knees that were too weak to stand can now run,
My feet no longer walk in crooked places but on the straight, safe paths he chooses for me.
Illustration: My Grandfathers grapevines had to be .
Grandad used to have a garden and in the middle of the garden was a huge grapevine. It stretched over a hundred yards from end to end. When we would go visit, if it was the right time of year we would go to the garden and pick 5 gallon buckets of grapes until our hands were dyed purple from the juice and our backs ached from carrying those 5 gallon pails. The vines weren't this productive by chance. No. Granddad had to know what he was doing. Every year he would look at his vines and begin to prune them with the hands and eyes of experience. When he did this the vines would produce 10 times more than if he left them alone.
The same is true in our relationship to God. Jesus said in , "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." We must be willing to let our spiritual shepherd shear and the spiritual husbandman prune if we are to have the best God desires for us.
Transition: Once the shepherd restores me and puts me back on my feet, he beckons me to follow Him. David wrote…"he leadeth me in paths of righteousness"
He Leadeth Me in Paths of Righteousness
With restoration comes the need for getting back into life. David follows "He restoreth me soul" with "He leadeth me in paths of righteousness."
If this is not done the sheep will destroy their own land by overgrazing and overuse. realizes that sheep must me moved from pasture to pasture.
Keller writes, "Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts, graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes, pollute their own ground until it is corrupted with diseases and parasites."
He knew that by following God rather than his own desires he would be led to what was best for his life. that the shepherd knows better than the sheep where the sheep should go.
Am I willing to follow the Shepherd to new pastures? Or have I grown so comfortable and so lazy in my present condition that I only wish to be left alone?
Why there is no excitement in your Christianity? It may be because I am not following the Lord to new pastures. why your relationship with God has grown stale?
New pastures are not necessarily a change in my scenery but seeing changes in me. There must be new challenges, new experiences and new heights I reach with my shepherd.
How long since I have been challenged by Bible study or by an encounter with an unbeliever? How long since I experienced a test of faith? How long since I have climbed to new heights in my relationship with Christ?
How long since I have stepped out in faith when Jesus calls from his word and says, "Follow Me." Sometimes it has been so long that you don't even recognize the call. Just like you may not be recognizing it right now. You're saying to yourself, "I'm glad he's talking to someone else. I don't hear anything."
The fact that you don't feel anything should be the most condemning of all.
Illustration: Livingston and the "good road volunteers"
He was one who was ever ready to follow his shepherd into "new pastures" in some of the most unforgiving and unexplored areas of Africa. was one of the greatest missionaries of the 19th century.
Once a missionary society in South Africa wrote to David Livingstone and asked him, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to send other men to join you." Livingstone wrote back,
Am I willing to follow my shepherd just as long as there are good roads? Then Livingstone's answer may be the same one I hear from God when I ask why He isn't using me, isn't working in my life, isn't blessing my church. "I can't lead you to the blessings if you're only willing to follow me on the old ruts and the easy roads."
Transition: There is something more though for David adds "for His names sake." This speaks of the shepherd's reputation, his name before others.
For His Names Sake
Stephan Haboush, the Galilean shepherd writes about a Shepherds reputation.
Stephen Haboush writes in My Shepherd Life in Galilee, "In this third verse the sheep is continuing his remarks about what his Shepherd does for him. He uses the word 'leadeth' the second time. From this it is to be remembered that the shepherds of Palestine, from time immemorial, invariably lead their sheep and hardly ever drive them. For two reasons: first, because of the wild beasts, and second, because of the unfenced fields of grain. The pastures and planted fields are divided by narrow paths, and here and there by low stone walls. These stone walls are intended more for landmarks than for fences. During the planting, growing, and ripening of the grain the fields are forbidden ground. Thus, when they move their flocks from one pasture to another, the shepherds must not permit any of their sheep to stray from the beaten paths into the fields. For if they do, they will not only have to pay damages to the owners of the fields, but they will ruin their reputations as shepherds. However, when the harvest of the grain is over they are allowed to enter the fields, but not until then. Now I look back with satisfaction to the fact that, though the fields of temptation were on either side of the paths, yet none of my sheep strayed into them, because they would hear my voice and follow me."
Am I upholding the name of Jesus Christi, the Shepherd who loves me? Do others understand by the paths I walk in this world that I am following Him? Actually, this is my purpose in life, to show the world Jesus Christ and to bring glory to his name.
says we are to be to the "praise of his glory."
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
of my Shepherd when they see the paths I'm walking?
When they see where I'm at on Sunday morning or Sunday night. Am I where my Shepherd has lead me or following a false shepherd who wishes me harm.
of the Shepherd when they hear my speech?
When they hear profanity, or worse making His name into a curse word. When they hear me tell a story or joke that is lewd or off color. When they hear me gossip or tear others down?
of the Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep when they see the flock I'm with on weekdays.
Does He ask too much and give too little in return.
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. 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,
To follow Jesus means I must leave behind the old, the familiar even the loved. I do this for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. Yes, with the blessings there will be persecutions and challenges, but my Shepherd promises me it is worth the difficulties and trials. You can’t reach the highlands unless you follow and honor Him.
We do it for "his name's sake.” I must realize that it is Jesus' name which I am an example of as I follow Him. To many the only Jesus they will see today, is the Jesus they see in me.
I saw Jesus last week.
He was wearing blue jeans and an old shirt.
He was up at the church building; He was alone and working hard.
For just a minute he looked a little like one of our members.
But it was Jesus . . . I could tell by his smile.
I saw Jesus last Sunday.
He was teaching a Bible class.
He didn't talk real loud or use long words, But you could tell he believed what he said.
For just a minute, he looked like my Bible teacher.
But it was Jesus . . . I could tell by his loving voice.
I saw Jesus yesterday.
He was at the hospital visiting a friend who was sick.
They prayed together quietly.
For just a minute he looked like Brother Jones.
But it was Jesus . . . I could tell by the tears in his eyes.
I saw Jesus this morning.
He was in my kitchen making my breakfast and fixing me a special lunch.
For just a minute he looked like my mom.
But it was Jesus . . . I could feel the love from his heart.
I see Jesus everywhere, Taking food to the sick ...
Welcoming others to his home, Being friendly to a newcomer ...
and for just a minute, I think he's someone I know.
But it's always Jesus . . . I can tell by the way he serves.
Jesus, my shepherd, brings me to the quiet pastures but he also leads me out of them when the time has come for challenge and growth.
Unlike the sheep however, my will is strong, and my mind often convinced that I am right. I ignore the matted overcoats of sin and the rutted trails of my life and it is only when I am cast down that I realize I've lost sight of the shepherd who loves me. I've wandered into fields where He did not lead me. I've grazed in pastures of poison weeds and drank at streams of polluted sin.
Listen though, He's calling even now, will you answer him now and let him lift you up? Will you call out and let him lead you to paths of righteousness? Will you heed His call to live your life for his name's sake? When you hear Him call will you commit yourself to follow wherever he leads?
Perhaps William Bradbury felt as David when he wrote the hymn "He Leadeth Me."
He leadeth me! O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, o'er troubled sea,
Still 'tis His hand that leadeth me!
Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmer nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Sense 'tis my God that leadeth me!
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By his own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.