23rd Psalms Christians: Going With God.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. - Psalms 23:1
It is said that many people know the 23rd Psalms, but not enough know the Shepherd of the 23rd Psalms. This lesson will introduce us to the Shepherd that David knew and sung of in this famous Psalm.
The King James Bible uses the word Lord in two ways. You will notice in Psalms 23:1 that it is spelled in all capital letters, LORD. This shows that the word used by David in the original writings was the word Jehovah or Yahweh. Whenever you see the word spelled Lord, not all in caps, it is translating the Hebrew word Adonay. The word most often associated as Lord.
Look at Psalms 8 where both words are used in the same verse. Ps 8:1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
The Hebrew word, Jehovah or Yahweh was first used of God about Himself when he spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Read Exodus 3:14. What is God's answer to Moses request for a name to place with his authority? I am that I am. This phrase is the literal translation of the word Jehovah. It is the personal name of God.
The Jews of later times held the name in such reverence that they would not speak it. The scribes who would copy the scripture into new scrolls would stop before they wrote this name, change into clean clothes, wash and select a new quill before writing the name of God. As soon as the word was written the quill was destroyed. Why do you think they did followed this procedure?
When David used this name, he showed that he understood and believed God to be a person. God to David was not an idea, a concept or a myth but an almighty being who could be known on a personal, intimate level.
What is your understanding of the Lord? Is he real? Is he a person, with feelings, thoughts and plans? Is he capable of watching you and watching over you. Do you understand the Lord as the ruler of all creation? Does all creation also include you? Read the following passages and list how they describe the Lord.
Ps 8:3 As Creator
Ps 7:1 As Savior
Ps 7:8-11 As Judge
Ps 50:7 As God, our God.
Can you relate these descriptions to your own life? Is God really only a concept, or an idea to you? Can a concept save you? Can an idea hear your call for help?
Illustration: Knowing parenting before and after having kids.
Have you ever heard singles or perhaps even young married couples talk about raising kids? They have all the answers. They know exactly what to do and how to do it. You can hear them say, "My kid will never act like that."
I remember one newlywed couple in our church that when observing my kids or other kids in the church would of say, “My kid will never misbehave like that.” Years went by and they moved but we visited them at their house now with kids of their own. While were visiting I noticed that the family cat had some really odd shaped ears, they were notched. I said something about the cat must get in lots of fights to tear up its ears like that. One of the parents looked sheepishly smiled and said, “Well actually our son got a hold of some wire cutters and decided to work on the cat’s ears with them.” I immediately began looking for where my kids were playing with their kids.
It turned out, as it always does, that they thought they knew parenting but parenting can’t really be known until you are a parent. The same is true about God.
Knowing God as My Lord
Before I came to God I thought I knew Him. But when he touched my heart as Creator to creature, when he spoke to my soul as Lord to servant, when He struck me down as Judge to guilty, when he cradled me in His love as the Guardian of my soul, then I really knew the Lord.
When David calls God, "My Shepherd" he is expressing not only knowing who God is in creation, but knowing God on an intimate level. This is the sheep looking up to his loving shepherd.
The shepherd is everything to the sheep. He protects the flock, provides food , leads them to water and grass, guards them against predators, doctors their wounds, comforts them in time of fear and searches for them when they stray. Together the sheep and his flock would walk for many miles and share great peace and often great turmoil. No matter what was encountered it would always be together. This was David's relationship with the Lord, his shepherd.
How can you know the Lord as your own shepherd?
Read John 10:22-27 What did Jesus say is the mark of His sheep? They hear his voice and they follow me.
Why were these Jews not His sheep? They did not believe in Him. What does it mean to believe? Trust in Him, rely on Him, lean upon him, cling to Him.
To be a sheep of Jesus' fold means I must....
Believe in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour
Hear His voice.
Explain how each of these are to be done in my relationship with God. How is each one an action or series of actions?
Are there harmful "shepherds" also calling after sheep? Identify some of these. How are they different from Jesus? What happens when I respond to their call?
The shepherd knows his sheep's needs and meets them. He also knows the sheep's mistaken needs and curbs them. Many times the sheep will drink polluted water or poisonous plants or wander away from the fold. These are harmful or fatal to the sheep and the shepherd will gently or forcefully deter the sheep.
Who is meeting your needs? Are your needs being met by the shepherd of this world? Are you responding to the call of a false shepherd who is allowing you to drink from pools filled with disease and eat from fields dotted with poisonous plants.
If you believe your needs are possessions, popularity, money or status, then Satan, the shepherd of this world, will find a way of supplying your wants. These things will never satisfy and Satan's sheep are always starving and craving more. You can't expect a new car, new TV or a wad of money to fill holes in the fabric of your soul.
However, if your needs are fellowship, food for the soul, comfort when life makes no sense, and the assurance of someone who will always love you, then respond to the call of Jesus, the good shepherd.
Listen to his invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Have you heard the call of the "Good Shepherd?" If you read the above passage you can hear it right now. Have you responded? Will you respond before it's too late?
Do you know the Lord as your Shepherd? Is He meeting the needs of your soul?
If you have given yourself to Jesus as Lord, then are you following where he leads? Or are you wandering in places where He is not? Isn't it time to turn around and let the Shepherd take you home?
The following account is taken from the booklet, "My Shepherd Life in Galilee" by Stephen A Haboush. The author spent his years as a boy tending his fathers' sheep in the Galilean hills around Nazareth. He relates his relationship to Christ in his experiences as a shepherd boy.
"It was not long before I got the first experience in seeking a lost sheep. It came about at the end of the third week. After counting the sheep as they entered the door of the fold, to my surprise and dismay I discovered that Untar one of the old members of the flock was not there. Twice I thought I had made a mistake in the counting, but the third time brought the same result he was nowhere about. What must I do?
With pride in my pocket I called to Uncle and told him about it. At first I thought he was going to be angry with me for allowing such a thing to happen, but his kindly smile set me at ease. He drew me to his side and said: "Too bad, my boy, that you should have an experience like that. I, too, feel about it as you do, but our duty is not only to care for and feed the sheep, but to see that no harm comes to them; and so, my boy, go out where you were today and seek Untar until he is found. Take one of your cousins to help you, and I will stay awake, waiting for your return."
It seemed that night that sky and earth were set against our purpose. The whole heavens were covered with the blackest of clouds, and when we approached the hills, we could not see ten feet ahead of us except for the lightning that flashed before our faces. Here and there in the darkness, now and then, we could see some of the wild beasts with eyes gleaming like jewels of fire. First it was a young wolf that ran across our path, then another flash of lightning and to our left a fox was seen running toward the valley, and a little later against the skyline stood a fierce looking hyena. With well-aimed stones from our shepherd slings at the latter, it scurried into the darkness, flashing at us death dealing teeth.
Ascending and descending those hills that night, calling and calling for the lost sheep, we repeatedly stumbled and fell, bruising our hands and faces against the sharp flint rocks. Suddenly the storm broke upon us, drenching us to the skin, and in addition, lightning nearly blinded our eyes and thunder almost deafened our ears. Cousin and I became discouraged after several hours of seemingly futile search for the lost sheep. So I turned to him and told him that it was no use to go any farther, for I was at the end of my strength, and that Untar was no longer alive or he would have heard my call and answered. Cousin touched my arm gently and reminded me of Uncle's command, "Seek him until he is found." With that ringing in my mind, I put all my remaining energy into the call I gave a moment later. To our waiting ears, as the echo of my voice died in the distance, there came a faint answer of a sheep that seemed in trouble. The answer came from a little valley just below us. Hurriedly we descended, and in our haste rolled many feet down the hillside, the thorns piercing our flesh: but we did not care, for the sheep was still alive. A moment later he would have been killed, for a few feet away there stood a wolf with eyes gleaming like diamonds, with open jaws, ready to spring upon the helpless victim. Seeing the wolf, I uttered a loud cry to cousin to use his rod. After many minutes of struggle (I was attacked by the wolf and still bear the mark upon my brow) the wolf was driven into the underbrush and Untar was saved. But where had he been? Why did he not remain with the rest of the flock? What was his reason for straying away? We came to the conclusion that in the afternoon of that day, while he was eating the tender grasses on the hillside with the rest of the sheep, he had got the notion into his brain -what little he had - that he could find more grass elsewhere and that he could find more satisfaction by being away from the shepherd and the rest of the sheep. While I was not looking, he had drifted into a field of brush down in the valley, where his old long horns had become entangled in the branches. There he had remained all that afternoon and night as if hands had tied him.
You ought to have seen him! Poor Untar He looked so worn and ragged out! I believe he must have tried to extricate himself, and the more he tried the more he became entangled. We released him, and could you have looked into his eyes, you would have seen a look of deep gratitude, for he seemed to know we had come just in time to save him from the wolf. We started back to the village, and as we approached, we saw the lights still burning in the windows of our home. I suggested to Cousin to call, and Uncle, with relatives and friends, upon hearing his voice, met us at the entrance of the village. When they saw us secure and the sheep safe and sound between us, they set up shouts of rejoicing and singing, not only for our own safety, but also for the sheep that was found.
At other times we went out to seek the lost sheep, but instead of finding them alive we would discover, to our sorrow, that they had been killed, the flesh torn, and the bones broken. Too late! "