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The Shepherd's Psalm

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2021 8:00 am

The Shepherd's Psalm

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 11, 2021 8:00 am

Is Jesus your lamb? Is he your shepherd? This week on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll turn our attention to Psalm 23, the psalm of the risen Lord. Psalm 23 is probably one of the most recognized, most often memorized portion of scripture in the Bible and I hope you’ll join us to hear more about it.

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Is Jesus your lamb is he your Shepherd today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will turn our attention to Psalm 23 the Psalm of the risen Lord.

Psalm 23 is probably one of the most recognized and most often memorized portions of Scripture in the Bible are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Perhaps many of us could recite Psalm 23 from memory. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. But did you ever wonder why the Bible talks about us being like sheep. Let's listen together and learn more. If you have your Bible turn to Psalm 23 of all the A Psalms in the Psalter. I don't know of any that I would rather be looking at together with you today because Psalm 23 as the Psalm of the risen Lord who is the shepherd of his church. The Psalm is undoubtedly the most beloved of all the Psalm's in the Psalter or words of probably been written about it more. Things said and on the other Psalm Charles Spurgeon love that he called at the peril of solvents. Great 19th century preacher and commentator JJ Stewart Perrone said there is no Psalm in which the absence of all doubt, giving fear and anxiety is so remarkable Alexander McLaren one of the great preachers on the Psalm said rightly the world could spare many a large better than the sun a little song and he commented it is dried many tears and supplied the mold and which many hearts have poured their peaceful faith probably more people up, memorized the 23rd Psalm, and any other portion of Scripture there people who know that even if they don't know anything else we teach it in our Sunday schools minister said she used it to comfort people in the midst of trying seasons in their lives.

Our intense physical suffering are families who are faced by a loss of five clubs one through death for many people. I suppose the words of the Psalm in the last that they have uttered in this life. Now it's a song that is remarkable throughout every single line is important, but if there was ever a song that could stand alone on just a single verse since the Psalm in the part. It could stand alone on his first one matter-of-factly could stand on just the first half of verse one because the first half of verse one says the Lord is my shepherd, we heard that so many times that that's the kind of sentence it just rolls BIOS often without thinking, but it is certainly a remarkable juxtaposition of words one hand you have the Lord. That's the great personal name for God Jehovah was disclosed for the very first time to Moses at the burning bush, and thereafter occurs more than 4000 times in the pages of the Old Testament. It's a word that speaks of God in his self-sufficiency and his timelessness because that best we can do in translating it is by words. I am what I am and has within it the confidence of the verb to be and when God said to Moses, this is how you shall know me I am that I am saying I am the self-sufficient one, and I am timeless in my self-sufficiency.

Self-sufficiency means that God doesn't need anything. He doesn't depend on anything he had everything in himself doesn't need wisdom as all wisdom. What wisdom could you and I possibly add to God. He doesn't need power. He has all power. What power could do what I possibly add to God the doesn't need anything. He is perfect.

All this attributes utterly self-sufficient and if we can put it in terms that perhaps really meet the road as we say he does not need our help. He does not need our worship. He does not need our prayers liked cities chosen take braces from people such as Austin allow us to work along with him because his coworkers along with Jesus Christ because need these things.

You say he is sufficient in two in self nice timeless as well because I am that I am. That's an eternal characteristic of the verb. What I was I am and what I am. I always will be. So I will always be on changed and unchanging, and un-changeable. That's the great God that's introduced to us in the very first half of the very first verse of this great song. The other half happens shepherd again. We have a romantic idea of the shepherds, probably because of the solvent because of some of the things Jesus said about being the good Shepherd.

But being a shepherd wasn't a good job that was just about the worst job you could have people who were shepherds were almost nobody's in the ancient world weren't even allowed to testify in court because it was assumed that a shepherd would.

Why couldn't trust them.

Family was poor and couldn't hire somebody miserable to be there shepherd and I had to use one of their own family was always the youngest son about the dirty job.

David was one of those younger sons she didn't smell good, and anybody who lingered around them ended up smelling like the sheep. She had to be watched all the time.

You couldn't put in an eight hour shift and then check them into their pen walk off and leave the gun to be within 24 hours a day and some of the worst things that happened to sheep.

The sheep at night when you wanted to be sleeping sheep were utterly helpless. So you had to undertake for them to do everything anybody who was in his right mind at all would do everything he could to see that somebody else got that dirty job. And yet, this Psalm says the Lord is my shepherd the Lord Jehovah.

Great God Almighty has condescended to take care of me helpless wondering foolish sheep. That's what I versus I Lord Jesus Christ took it over into his vocabulary in teaching as well.

We know some of the things that he said he talked about Tipton 15 where he was defending the fact that he was mingling with that tax collectors and poor people and those let bad reputations like prostitutes and he said this, he said. Suppose one of you as 100 sheep and loses one of them doesn't he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it, and when he finds it joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says rejoice with me. I found my lost sheep might tell you that in the same way. There's more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent. Was Jesus teaching as he took up that great theme and applied it to himself again.

There's a great teaching that we find in John 10 Manno enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep said Jesus. The watchman opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and he leaves them out and when he is brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep.

So when he sees the wolf, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters that I am the good shepherd.

I know my sheep and my sheep know me as the father knows me and I know the father and I lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that are not of the sheep and I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. I was Jesus teaching is talking about us. We are members of that one flock compose of those of the is brought out of the sheep and of Judaism and those of me is brought out of the sheep fold of the Gentiles and those whom he is brought from nations far away near at hand into that one great company of his people known as the church and what he is saying says that I am the shepherd who has gone out to find those wondering ones and bring them to me. I Jehovah, the second person of the Trinity, God Almighty come down to this earth to seek and to save that which was lost in this world is that dark, while dangerous mountain into which you and I am wondered, and he stooped low enough that he came down from the throne of glory to draw us and save us and take us to himself. That's what he teaches. So if Jesus took the Old Testament image that way and expanded upon it as we see he did is right for us to come to the Psalm and say yes Jesus is my shepherd, and because he is my shepherd, I will like nothing we can apply each part of the Psalm to ourselves and very practical ways. I said the first half of this is remarkable and it is Lord is my shepherd.

It's the most remarkable part of the Psalm, and it doesn't mean that the rest of it is an important or that the second half of that phrase is an important also see the second half of verse one goes on to say, I shall like nothing and the reason I selected nothing is because the Lord is my shepherd somebody else for my shepherd, I like a lot even worse by my own shepherd. I can't manage my affairs. I can't deal with time and with eternity and I am bound to perish and bless God himself condescends to be my shepherd, which is exactly what is done when I read this and discover that the Lord is my shepherd, I know that because he is I shall like nothing and when it says nothing. It really does mean no thing there is nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing for my good in this life or in eternity that I'm going to lack as long as the Lord is my good shepherd as long as Jesus is my shepherd is worth looking at each one of these verses suggests things that I want lack if I really have a shepherd like this. What's the first I will not like rest why because he makes me to lie down in green pastures and the leads me beside the still waters. That's why I want lack rest. Interesting that the Psalm starts at that point because you and I probably wouldn't start.

That way we would start with activity say we would say the Lord is my shepherd. What does he do inside the sheep in his fold.

What's my responsibility but that's not the way the Psalm begins always begins with rest and it's a way of reminding us that in Christian things we always begin by resting in what God does for us is one cares for us and it's because he does that. We can rest in him.

Some years ago a man who has since become a pastor, but one early stage in his life was a shepherd wrote a book while the shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm is name is Philip Keller's written a number of books since right a few of them having to do with this kind of pastoral theme, but this was his first walk in it really was very helpful and he points out, when he discusses this particular verse apart from the Psalm that it is very difficult to get a sheep to rest. We think of sheep standing around contentedly in the fields but the reason they stand around contentedly as it seems in the fields is that there really not content only when all of their needs are absolutely satisfied that the sheep people lie down. What colors that impossible for them to be made to lie down with four requirements are met. Owing to their timidity. They refuse to lie down unless they're free of all fear I have any fear at all. I want to be on their feet ready to run away because of the social behavior within the flock. She will not lie down unless they are free from friction with others of their kind sheep don't always get along very well with one another. It sounds terribly familiar have to be free of that before they'll lie down, tormented by flies or parasites. Sheep will not lie down. I can be very bothersome thing only when free of these pests may relax.

Lastly, he says sheep will not lie down as long as they feel the need of finding food. They must be free from all hunger as long as they can eat anything they'll stand on their feet and keep eating and it's only when they are absolutely full unable as we say to take another mouthful that they'll lie down, free from fear. Friction flies and firemen the way I put it for Ralph's is interesting thing as scholar points out, it's only the shepherd who can provide that she can't provide for themselves. Yes, to create an environment in which there free from fear to trust him is gotta create an environment in which there free from friction as to create an environment in which there free from parasites past things that would disturb their PC has to see that they have food to eat water to drink, and every other need is met. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ is with us and Eileen put it, he said it again and again in various ways. In his teaching. He said I am the bread of life you comes to me will never go hungry. He who believes on me will never be thirsty. On another occasion he said come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest another occasion Jesus said peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.

I don't give to you as the world gives do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid.

That's our shepherd.

That's what Jesus does with us and if we don't have peace if we are not resting is because were not resting in him. The deficiency is not on God's side. The deficiencies with us. Secondly, the Psalm says that we will not like white for health why because he restores my soul.

Verse three phrase restores my soul can be taken in a couple ways in Hebrew could be an idiom for he turns my soul around again.

In other words, I been going astray, and so he converts me. That's certainly a proper interpretation of it, but it could also be simply a metaphor saying that when he restores my soul. Since the word soul is also the word for life. He restores my life when I say are spiritually ill. He provides the restoration that I need. He is not only the good Shepherd is a good physician, introduces something quite interesting at this point, which I suppose is right because after all he's spent many years was sheep. He said there is a phenomenon known to all shepherds of what is called a pastor cast down sheep. What happens is this a particularly flat healthy cheaper one that is very heavily with wall when it lies down might lie down in a little depression in the ground feel nice sort of comfortable place for it to be. But as it settles in their error sometimes occurs at kind of shift to the center of gravity of the sheep and it finds itself are not over in this little declivity that it's feet leave the ground.

It is then beset by panic and steer off the ground and it will struggle to try to get his feet back down on the ground. Sometimes only makes it worse. And what happens is the world over there it's just can't. Literally, it cannot get up again as a cast sheep and the sheep and the conditions in very bad shape gases build up apparently cuts off the circulation to the limbs send a sheep to cash it a hot day or whatever can die within a few hours. The only way the sheep can be rescued is by the shepherd nothing else is going to get the sheep on the other sheep don't do it.

By the way, thanks for shepherd to rescue the sheep and shepherd.

It seems a shame of that conditional rush to it right away.

I will care for one shepherd will do his misogynist limbs to get the circulation back again. It takes a while before that sheep is able to get back upon its feet go off again without simply falling over. Once again, that's what shepherds do they exercise that care. I don't know whether David had that in mind, it is very likely that he did. He restores my soul. He says that means that if I'm in the care of a shepherd like that. A shepherd who cares for the sheep. Not just in the general. Why is it Jesus said all I love my church. All the many millions of them.

Rather, Jesus who says I love you and I love you and I love you and because I am the eternal also being all-powerful God.

I can minister to you each one each one does make a difference to me how many there are.

I care for each one, just as much as the body else and when you find yourself cast down. I'm always going to be there by your side see you get back on your feet we ever talk that way we talk about being flat on her back is Christian sometimes and there are circumstances in life that will do that to us. All of a sudden out of nowhere.

We find ourselves not down in that condition left ourselves we really aren't able to get back up and that's when the good Shepherd comes and ministers to us. We can say is David that he restores my soul.

That's the second thing the third thing is guidance, same verse, he guides me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake and that he guides us because we didn't. We would certainly be lost.

Everybody talks about sheep says that the most stupid creatures. I guess that's true, except perhaps human beings must be the number people wander off everywhere and is made a difference. What kind of care they have. They can be in the care of an excellent shepherd and a perfect pastor with lots of water to drink. And somehow, even if the pastor is closely fenced in the final little hole in that fence we go through and go off into the field in which they are going to perish. Ultimately, because it's a barren field of there's no water. There's nobody to care for them like that are waiting, here is the Lord Jesus Christ our shepherd.

A perfect shepherd.

He makes all our plans present pleasantness all his ways for us are ways of peace but we get restless in his care and if there's a little fence clarinet as a hold of it. While we make it our business to see if we can get through the hole and find something else for ourselves wondering off say we do it again and again. That's another reason why we need good Shepherd reading shepherd to guide us. We don't know the way in which we should go.

That's why it says Satan later solving that he guides us with his eye and is simply look to him, he will guide us with his eye. His eye is on us and go show us the way in which we should go and when we look to him, he will certainly do that is the reason Savior. The good shepherd of his sheep is 1/4 thing we want black if we are in the care of this good Shepherd and that his safety even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil lots of people and talk about that is it that were death itself.

I guess it is something terribly wrong with back when we do walk through the shadow of death on the very threshold of the reality certainly are good Shepherd is with us, but I think in the context of the Psalm. It probably is not what it's talking about what you have been the Psalm is a passage through life in here the beginning of her story and something that is quite different. What color says is that you have a picture to what happens during the year of the shepherds care of the sheep he takes them out of the winter pen leads them off into the fresh spring Meadows where you have all the provision of the early verses and then toward the Highlands where they're going to spend the summer and on the way they have to pass through the valleys valleys that have steep rocks on either side and beans and where danger literally works around every corner is valleys of the places where the wild animals work there places where storms will suddenly sweep along or where flux will suddenly come down the mountainside because the sun penetrates not well into the valleys. Valleys are literally filled with shadows, which at any moment may become the shadow of death is a particular problem of this phase of the life you see. And the problem with passing through the valley of the shadow of death is fear were afraid the answer to that fear is the shepherd is nothing that provides comfort and peace in the midst of such fear, like the shepherds presents the sheep know it and we should know what to many people pointed out that this point in the song the pronoun that refers to the Lord changes have you noticed that before and you're starting up to now it is the third person he he and he favors to. He makes me lie down. He leads me beside quiet waters he restores my soul he guides me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake were now in verse form walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Notice what happens, I will fear no evil because you are with me in changes to the second person you see, for you are with me your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil is not nice save face by the danger sheep draws close to the shepherd and no discomfort. Because of that shepherds presents.

We were only as wise a sheep. In that respect we go through the danger and we say well I better do something about this. And so we take it in our hands we get active in the forget the presence of our Lord. He's the one that we need and that's what is provided, but only don't we lack safety meeting my provision, either because that's what verse five begins to talk about some of the commentators say that at this point, the imagery of the Psalm changes and I suspect as I look at that text before me that the new international version translators.

Lots of tube because there's a blank line between verse four and verse five. The argument would be like this in the first part of the Lord is pictured as the shepherd in the second part is pictured as a host to prepares a table for us them.

Who enables us to dwell in his house forevermore.

Let me well be certainly does seem to be a change in yet Keller suggests that it really isn't that it's true that the imagery changes but not with the thought that now are no longer talking about sheep. He says when you have led the sheep from the lowlands through the valleys you lead them to the high table lands or Masons. That's where they graze during the summer.

It's where grasses register and he says that's what's involved here.

You prepare Mesa before me in the presence of my enemies. Enemies are about the shepherd goes ahead and he makes the preparation of this land. Apparently many things that have to be done. Poisonous plants have to be removed to pitfalls dangers have to be avoided.

The shepherd, the why shepherd goes ahead of the sheep makes this kind of preparation and perhaps if Keller is right, this is what David is saying the Lord are good Shepherd actually goes before us and prepares the way so we might have an abundance of provision even in very dangerous times.

I'm sure that is just like Lord Jesus Christ.

And no, just before his crucifixion. He said to the disciples. I like to eat this Passover with you before I go and so he made preparation for and then he ate it with them. I think that is something of what the image is telling us here are a couple interesting ideas that are added. You anoint my head with oil my cup overflows to stocking the Arab oil and wine to great staples of the abundant life of the near East. Oil was crushed from the all of us and used to make the face shine. You see enough hot land where they had very little shelter if they were out working at all.

The skin would become very important to attracting oil is very precious commodity. And when you visited friends house so oil would be given to you to anoint your face. It's like David says on one occasion. Speaking of the Lord he makes his face shine upon me, perhaps referring to a celestial glory, but perhaps also suggested by this image that that Lord spaces the face of a friend in the same way hot dry lands with dust about parched throat when you visited the house of a friend. Proper thing to do would be that friend offer wine and see which phase in throat.

David speaks very well on that on one occasion he speaks of God thanking him regarding says soup gives wine that gladdens the heart of Mammon oil that makes his face shine.

Interesting thing about this hearsay is that in that culture. It took time to grow grapes and crush them and make the wine and it took time to grow the olives and crush them and make the oil and so if there were, well, and in the time it was a time of war. These were the things were let slide because it wasn't time to do that again to have a certain measure of stability to provide these things and that's what this provided when were in keeping of the good Shepherd. He has the time and he is prepared these things for us so that we might not lack any good thing on Christians are lacking a lot of good things because they are not waiting upon God himself to provide them. We think we can provide better for ourselves and we think we can do it in our way. We seek it in the world, why, and what we find is that those things we thought were so precious instead of being soothing and comforting.

Actually turned to ashes in our mouth. God allows that to happen so that we will learn that the only really good care comes from him with a lifesaver told us we won't like a heavenly home. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. This matter that heavenly home. Came home to me and very powerful way. When I was reading that classic book 7 pillars of wisdom by TE Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia man who got all of the Arab forces together. The Bedouin tribes resistant eventually drive out the Turks during the first world war. Lawrence begins that book by reflecting on the significance of Damascus. It's interesting because that's where the book actually have all the battles and eventually they conquered Damascus and that we begins the book by talking about the city and he describes in this way, said that warring tribes in the near East that area that is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the West than the Gulf of Aqaba to the south of the great desert and so forth to that far side, these warring tribes and they would come out of the desert strong enough to possess the land would always attack the high lands of Judah because that's where you had the abundant rainfall and where you had the olive trees and the blinds and so on. Where the best land was to be found.

That, incidentally, is exactly what the Israelites did under the command of Joshua when they drove out the Canaanites were there before the method Lawrence what happens is happened again and again countless times in the history of the near East. Is this the powerful nation will drive out those who are occupying the Highlands and when they're displaced what they tended it was just move a little bit further south toward the Negev and when they do that they drive out those who are occupying those lands and those people drive out those who are little bit further south and they worked their way. The whole way down and back up the other side until the weakest tribes of all are pushed out into the desert and the only thing that is before them is the mask said that reason Damascus is always had a certain magical quality for the Arab people is a symbol of Paradise Southwest after a long and dangerous pilgrimage of this life. You see we have such rest at the end of our pilgrimage, only it's not Damascus as beautiful as that may have seemed in the eyes of the Arabs Abundant irrigated fields and date palms in such things. We have a home in our home is in heaven. Jesus Christ is gone there to prepare it for us is what he said before he left this earth.

He turned to his disciples and said I'm going to prepare a place for you if I go and prepare a place for you. I'm going to come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also. I shall not lack rest. I shall not lack life and health or guidance for safety. No provision or heavenly home because Jesus is gone to prepare that heavenly home for me to give you one last passage the apostle John is writing toward the very end of the Bible in the seventh chapter of Revelation enters what he writes.

He speaking of that home. Never again. Speaking of those in that home.

Never again will they hunger ever again will they thirst, the son will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat because lamb the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, beautiful that heavenly home has been provided for us by our good Shepherd, who became himself a lamb for our salvation. Lamb, was led to the slaughter innocent for the guilty.

In order that you and I might be safe.

So I in this study by asking the question is see your lamb as he died for you see your shepherd if he is, and has you will not lack rest life or guidance or safety or provision or heavenly home you like nothing in life you will lack nothing in eternity you will be eternally blessed you will be able to say with King David Lord is my shepherd, and the only proper response to that is hallelujah. Let's pray.

Father, we thank you that you have become our shepherd.

We were so foolish and wandered away and so needy, because you loved us and love us father teach us what it is to follow and appreciate and love such a wonderful shepherd is Jesus Christ has become a mentor and thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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