Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Shepard and Guardian of your soul. Psalm 23 recap, part 2.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
It was well understood that a shepherd might not return alive from his season of shepherding.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the shepherd to all who believe in Him.
The shepherd had to fight back, because he had to make good any losses to the owners.
The shepherd was expected to count the sheep, one by one, calling each by its own name, both morning and evening, for he had to render an accounting for any that were missing.
He would talk to his sheep each day to pass the time, and it came about that they all learned to recognize his voice.
Shepherds also had to provide shelter, medication, aid in lambing time, and provision for lameness and weariness.
To protect himself and his flock from harm, the shepherd had weapons. He carried a heavy club, what Psalm 23 calls a “rod.”
The shepherd was also equipped with a staff, which was not primarily a weapon although it was used as such on occasion. When the sheep was tired or sick, the shepherd carried it on his shoulders.
When it was lost, the shepherd went to search for it.
The lot in life of any particular sheep depended on the type of man who owned it.
The sweetest word in verse 1 has to be the two letters “my”!
He bought me with His own blood. He absorbed the penalty for my sins.
The shepherd actually took on the lot of a lamb; God became man, to do this for me. Who else would I want shepherding me?
Have I exchanged my stubborn insistence on being the captain of my soul for the satisfying adventure of following Him?
Some sheep always keep near the shepherd, and are his special favorites.
The great body, however, are mere worldlings, intent upon their mere pleasures or selfish interest.
(a) A sheep cannot guide himself.
(b) A sheep cannot clean himself apart from the shepherd.
(c) A sheep is helpless when injured.
(d) A sheep is defenseless.
(e) A sheep cannot find food or water.
(f) A sheep is easily frightened or panicked.
(g) While the sheep produces the wool, that wool belongs to the shepherd only.
Sheep are placed by God in creation to be a wonderful picture of God’s grace.
Basic English translation - “The Lord takes care of me as His sheep; I will not be without any good thing.”
Logistical grace includes life support, doctrinal provision, blessing, and equal opportunity to execute the pre-designed plan of God for every believer.
The justice of God sends forth life support and blessing to both winners and losers.
Have you taken inventory of your life to look back and taste and see the goodness of the Lord in each circumstance?
I shall not lack for temporal things. Does He not feed the ravens and cause the lilies to grow? (LUK 12:22-32)
I shall not lack for spiritual things. Sheep require endless attention and personal care.
HEB 7:25 “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
PSA 37:25 I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.
HEB 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
1PE 2:25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
My soul will be completely fulfilled by My Shepherd.
PSA 23:2 He causes me to lie down in pastures of choice grass; He leads me to waters of refreshment.
Lying down in pastures of choice grass is a picture of tranquility that results from using the three spiritual skills for learning doctrine.
Three spiritual skills:
The Filling of the Holy Spirit.
The perception, metabolization and application of Bible Doctrine.
The deployment of the ten problem-solving devices on the FLOT of the soul.
Here the Lord Jesus Christ causes the event of David - and by extension us - lying down in the pastures.
The green pastures represent the Word of God, the truth of Bible doctrine, which is the perfect food for our souls, just as tender grass is natural nutrition for sheep.
Being led to waters of refreshment refers to the application of doctrine to your life.
For sheep to be at rest there must be a definite and complete sense of freedom from fear, tension, aggravations, and hunger.
The one thing that settles and reassures the sheep is the sight of their shepherd with them in the field. DEU 31:6“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Under the provision of logistical grace, God provides everything that His sheep need to give them rest.
The still waters refer to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit to the believer. The soul of the unbeliever thirsts for the convincing ministry of the God the Holy Spirit that makes Gospel information understandable. The soul of the believer thirsts for the water of the filling of the Spirit.
If not led to the good water supplies of clean, pure water, they will usually end up drinking from polluted potholes where they contract diseases and parasites. Drinking points to the non-meritorious function of believing. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the water that is needed to digest the food of Bible doctrine.
PSA 23:3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness because of His reputation.
A “cast sheep” is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot getup again by itself.
If the shepherd does not arrive on the scene in time, the sheep will die.
He will search for hours to restore that sheep to its feet and to the flock, and is in a race against time and the buzzards.
In reality, the Lord has the same concern and compassion for cast men and women as the shepherd has for cast sheep.
This is the principle of being renewed and refreshed through recovering from sin and its effects.
The Lord brings my soul back, either from its errors (sin) or its wandering (evil or reversionism).
It is the removal of guilt, the restoration of the filling of the Spirit, the recovery of fellowship with God, and the resulting forward progress in the spiritual life.
There does come a time though that if the wandering becomes a destructive habit, the shepherd will break the sheep’s leg - for its own protection; to keep it from destroying itself.
After the leg heals, the sheep has learned an important lesson: it stays close to the shepherd’s side.
Keller writes that the shepherd must put together a pre-determined plan of action so the movement of the sheep will get them to the right destinations at the right times.
ISA 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
PRO 16:25 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
If we are wise, we will follow when our Shepherd is leading us in the paths of righteousness.
The paths of righteousness include “lovingkindness and truth.”
So right here we have problem-solving device #4 - grace orientation
and problem solving device #5 - doctrinal orientation.
These are the many problem-solving devices that He gives us to help us solve our problems.
He leads the way. Nothing is ours that was not first His.
Grace depends on God’s reputation not ours.
The paths of righteousness speak of the pre-designed plan of God designed for us in eternity past.
In verse 1, the Lord from logistical grace provides everything that we need so that we have no wants.
In verse 2, He provides provisions for us that cause us to rest.
In verse 3, He provides for us rebound for restoration and a pre-designed plan to live in.
PSA 23:4 “In addition to this, when I walk through a death-shadowed valley, I cannot fear evil [the manner of dying]; because You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
It is so often in the valleys of our lives that we find the sweetest refreshment and fellowship alone with God.
Shepherds would not take their flock where they had not already been themselves.
To walk indicates the steady advance of a soul which knows its road, knows its destiny, resolves to follow the path, feels quite safe and secure, and therefore is perfectly cool, calm, and collected.
In addition to living grace, the Lord has provided dying grace.
The dark side of the shadow is the experience of dying.
The valley is the place of shelter, and transport.
Death is merely a shadow.
Jesus Christ has conquered death.
Where there is a shadow, there must be light somewhere nearby.
“Evil” refers to anything related to dying.
God picks the time, the manner, and the place of your dying, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Confidence in God creates courage in the face of evil.
We can have no fear when going through our very own death-shadowed valley, because the Lord Jesus Christ goes with us.
This is David applying dying grace, occupation with Christ, and a personal sense of destiny to the problem of death or disaster.
MAT 28:20 “Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We must always keep in mind that when we take that journey through the death-shadowed valley, it is meant to be a victory lap.
Death has left its sting in the humanity of Christ, and has no more power to harm His brothers and sisters.
If He is with me through death, what else is there to be afraid of?