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Introducing the Creator-Shepherd

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
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January 16, 2024 12:00 am

Introducing the Creator-Shepherd

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 16, 2024 12:00 am

God gave us quite of a number of wonderful analogies in scripture to describe our relationship to Him, but none are as poignant as the relationship between a shepherd and a lamb. Join Stephen in this study of Psalm 23 to learn why. Access all of the resources and lessons in this series:


Fellowship in the Word
Bil Gebhardt

Just like sheep, you and I need a shepherd. The reason for that is because we're prone to going astray. So Isaiah the prophet would say, all we like sheep have gone where?

Astray. Every one of us have turned to our own way, Isaiah 53. David himself would later write in another song 119 verse 176, I have gone astray just like a lost sheep. The human race is in desperate need of a shepherd.

The trouble is we will follow just about anything and just about anyone. King David knew an awful lot about straying sheep and carrying shepherds. Early in his life, he was a shepherd. He spent his days with sheep and with the community of shepherds in Israel. He wrote a beautiful psalm about the Lord being his shepherd. He knew that just like he cared for sheep, he needed the Lord to care for him. That psalm is our text today here on Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davies beginning a series today on some of King David's songs.

We're starting with one that many people know, Psalm 23. This message is called Introducing the Creator Shepherd. One of my recent journals has as its cover that arrived this week. It's the only journal I subscribe to. It's an evangelically directed magazine called World magazine. There were color pictures of conflicts in Syria and in Egypt where there's escalating bloodshed, other conflicts around the world, the nuclear struggles in Iran or their ambitions.

I should say the growth of Al Qaeda in Algeria battles of a different sort have occurred in our own borders, haven't they? But they have a common theme. And I thought of this as I was reading through this. We may be allowed to own a Bible. And as North Korea's president, as I mentioned in our earlier session, put to death about 80 people just recently and some of them for just simply owning a copy of the Bible. The battles we're facing, we may be allowed to own a Bible, but our culture is battling over whether or not you can follow it or believe it. One northern state in World magazine was mentioned as having passed a bill defining personhood to begin in the womb. And I thought, outstanding.

That's wonderful. And the population of that state are going to be voting on that measure of the year ahead, which obviously doesn't mean it's going to do anything because courts can overrule what people vote and approve. Many states in the country, this was mentioned as well, are currently or potentially poised to join other states that have already redefined the core definition of marriage so that now a man can have a husband and a woman can have a wife. Still more this past year. Recently, the governor of one state signed into law the banning of any counseling of minors that attempts to convert them to heterosexuality.

It is now illegal. Meanwhile, among heterosexuals, there were enough stories there. One obscene dance performance cheered by all the attendees and then broke the record for the greatest number of views online. 19.3 million in one day.

Yet another milestone in recent months. The number of couples choosing not to cohabitate in our country has recently exceeded the number of those choosing to get married. By the way, I find it ironic that the church, or some churches, the church in general has spoken out against homosexual union, but virtually remain silent about heterosexual fornication.

I mean, the Bible is really clear on both, isn't it? Frankly, the world is staggering around. It is wandering morally. It is without direction. It is wandering into more and more self-deceived, self-destructing arenas of life.

And the mainline church is just as confused. I mean, the world is literally without a leader. A leader who knows the way to true satisfaction and genuine purpose and real meaning and lasting hope.

And we're scuttling to the sideline, the only thing given to us from God which can provide all of that. I find it fascinating that some of the best wisdom for following the right kind of leader comes from the poetic inspiration of a teenager. Not a wise old man with wise life experiences, but this passionate young person who has recently been anointed by the Holy Spirit. And as we've studied, he goes back out there into the pastures of his homeland and he begins to write music.

Song. Turn to Psalm chapter 23. Psalm chapter 23 is going to effectively ask and answer the question, does he really have the kind of shepherd worth following? And do you know this one? He's really the only one capable of pulling off all the things that you really need in life and beyond. As you're turning, you know as well as I do that Psalm chapter 23 is probably the most often quoted Psalm at funerals.

In my opinion, it isn't so much about dying as it is about living. Now this song can be divided easily into two sections following the introductory statement. From verse one to verse three, you could write into the margin of your Bible the word provision. The shepherd's provision. These three verses are going to reveal the provision of the shepherd.

The second section begins at verse four and runs through verse six and again you can write one word into the margin of your Bibles. It's the word protection. This is the shepherd's protection. David is going to vividly describe both provision and protection. Now before he does anything, David actually just introduces us to the shepherd by name.

The Lord is my shepherd. David uses the name Yahweh. It's that great Old Testament name which literally means I am that I am.

In fact, Yahweh contains in it all three tenses as it were dealing with the past, the present, and the future. It's a great name. This is the name by which he introduced himself to the people of Israel.

The transliteration of Yahweh is Jehovah or Jehovah as we would say. And it's a name that refers to the timeless self-sufficiency of God. In other words, the name means he doesn't need anything. He doesn't need to be served. But it's our privilege to do so. He doesn't need to be helped. But it's our greatest honor to co-labor with him, isn't it? He doesn't need to be worshiped.

But it is our highest act and our best attitude. He doesn't need anything. Yahweh is self-sufficient, self-contented, self-sustaining. In fact, there's almost a play on words here in the Hebrew language in this opening statement as if to say the God who doesn't need anything is about to take care of everything we need and we need everything. And the grace and humility then bound up in this opening word is staggering. David effectively writes the great, all-powerful, self-sustaining, timeless God has stepped into time and space. In fact, he's stepped into your time and he's stepped into your space and he can become your personal leader.

The creator God then is interested in my puny little world. But David will write in one of his songs, song number 147, that God counts the stars. That is, he knows the number of the stars.

In fact, it's more than that. He didn't just count them. He created them.

Isaiah the prophet writes, lift up your eyes on high and see and see who has created these stars. And he calls them, I love this, and he calls them all by what? Name. He's named trillions and trillions.

I'm not sure what the number is above that, so I'm going to stick with trillions. He's named them all. He's named every one of them and that God has bent downward, as it were, and graciously stoops to care about you and me so that we can cast on him our every care because he actually cares about us.

See, here's young David. He's lying out at night under the Bethlehem sky and he's looking up and he's saying to himself as he composes one of his first hymns of praise that this all-powerful, timeless, all-sufficient creator God is my shepherd. By the way, the rest of this song gets easy if you get the shepherd right. You miss the shepherd.

You miss this leader. You deny this God and Psalm 23 falls apart. In fact, everything in this psalm hinges upon the opening line. The Lord is my shepherd.

In fact, look a little more carefully. The Lord is, you ought to circle that verb, is, not the Lord will be or the Lord used to be or I'm going to try him out for a few months and if it works, he just might be. No, this song doesn't work for those who want to sing the Lord almost is my shepherd. The Lord later on will be my shepherd.

I'm thinking about it. Now this is present tense and I want you to notice that it isn't only present tense, it's possessive terminology. Note next, the Lord is what? My shepherd. This powerful God is my personal guide.

That's what he's saying. David doesn't start out by singing then the Lord is my father's shepherd or the Lord is my mother's shepherd. The Lord is my uncle's shepherd.

That won't cut it. I met some time ago with a couple and after sharing with them in my office the gospel of Jesus Christ and the claims of Christ over their lives and their need to repent, I asked them if they understood. They both said they did and I said, would you like to commit your life to Christ right here and now? And the woman said, I'd like to pray right now and commit my life to him. And her husband looked down and said, I really don't want to do that.

And when they walked out of my office, it struck me later. She walked out following a shepherd and he still doesn't have one. This is personal.

This is personal. David doesn't encourage us to sing the Lord is my wife's shepherd. The Lord is my husband's shepherd. Let me tell you about my grandfather. My grandfather was a devout believer. I got to tell you, the Lord was my grandfather's shepherd. I've talked to more people on the street about the gospel and as soon as it begins to penetrate, they start talking to me about their grandfather, who was typically a preacher. The Lord was my grandfather's preacher. That's great, but that's not good enough. God does not have grandchildren.

You've heard that, right? He doesn't have grandchildren, as wonderful as they are. Grandchildren are great, aren't they?

I spent 30 minutes holding a necklace this afternoon after. I mean, they are so much better than those other people, right? God doesn't have grandchildren. Think about it, he doesn't have grandchildren. He just has children. David is delivering to us the promises.

They're contingent upon the possession. David begins by saying, then the Lord is mine. How tragic it was for me to see a bumper sticker on the back of a car this week driven by a young guy. The words on the bumper sticker read, Earth doesn't belong to us, we belong to Earth. Is that it? This little speck, we belong to that?

Let me give you something better. David says, I belong to the creator of the universe and he belongs to me. Notice, as David then moves on, he says, the Lord is my shepherd. Now, here his music immediately becomes a metaphor. He's effectively saying he's a sheep and the Lord's a shepherd.

Again, the grace of God is astounding. In Israel, as in other ancient cultures, a shepherd's work was considered the lowest rung on the ladder. You may remember when the Israelites were in captivity, Pharaoh didn't even want to see the leaders. He didn't want to hang around any Israelites because they were despicable little shepherds, right? They were dirty. In fact, even in Israel, they were unclean, unable to worship.

This was the bottom rung on the ladder. If a family needed a shepherd and couldn't afford to hire him, typically they handed it to the youngest kid in the family. We already studied the fact that David got saddled with that job. One Bible scholar wrote, shepherds had to live with their sheep every day of the week.

Their task was unending. Day and night, summer and winter, in fair weather and during lightning storms and freezing nights, they fed, guided, and they had to protect their sheep. Who, he writes, in their right mind would choose to be a shepherd. Yet throughout the Old Testament, God is considering himself to be the shepherd of his people. And you get over into the New Testament and God the Son says in John 10, without any embarrassment, I happen to be the good shepherd.

I'll adopt and accept that occupation on your behalf. And it's my guess, and I'm certainly sure you're aware of this, that the Lord calls himself our shepherd because, more importantly, we are like sheep. So Isaiah the prophet would say, all we like sheep have gone where?

Astray. Every one of us have turned to our own way, Isaiah 53. David himself would later write in another song, 119 verse 176, I have gone astray just like a lost sheep. The human race is in desperate need of a shepherd. The trouble is, we will follow just about anything and just about anyone.

Have you noticed that? David begins then by saying, look, I want everybody to know who my shepherd is. It's the Lord, Yahweh. And he implies by what he sings throughout this song that you need to make him your shepherd, too, if he isn't.

In fact, he's going to make the point that why would you ever want anybody else? David ends verse one by saying the unbelievable. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not what? I shall not want.

What does he mean? I've got a lot of things I want. And so do you. One little boy was quoting this verse to his teacher, and he got the words turned around as he said, The Lord is my shepherd. That's all I want. That's a good commentary on what David means. I shall not want. That is, I will not lack anything that I truly need as I trust God. And you've got to watch this, because left to themselves, sheep lack everything. But when the Lord is your shepherd, this is David's point. The one who needs nothing is omnisciently aware and capable of delivering what he knows you need. So you can say at any given moment, with honesty and clarity in life, whatever I don't have, I can assume that God knew I didn't need to have it. And everything I do have, I can assume that God knew I needed it.

I never lack. All right, that's the introduction of the psalm. We're only going to get a few phrases more here. David now moves into a description of the shepherd's provision. And you and I are only going to understand this only if we understand what it means to be a sheep. And I don't know anything about sheep. Has anybody in here raised sheep?

Great. Well, we've got to understand, we've got to slip into this scene here in order to understand this. Notice as David sings in verse 2, he makes me lie down in green pastures.

What does that mean? He makes me lie down. Is that like the way I used to tell my kids and you tell yours? Maybe you're telling them to go back and lie down. Go lie down.

Don't get out of bed again. He makes me lie down. I'm going to lie down only because I don't want discipline.

Is that what he's saying? What David is saying here is that God makes it possible for me to lie down. If you pick up a book by Philip Keller, a former shepherd, if you pick up a newer book I picked up not too long ago by Timothy Laniac, a man who spent time with Middle Eastern shepherds and came out with a wonderful journal of reflections on his experiences, came out a few years ago. I have learned from their writings that sheep refuse to lie down unless several things are taken care of. And by the way, they all have to be taken care of by the shepherd. The sheep can't do it.

Number one, I'll give you three things quickly. First, sheep will not lie down if they're hungry. They're going to stand and stay foraging, unsatisfied. Which is why David adds, by the way, look at verse two, about lying down where?

Did you notice? He makes me lie down in what? Green pastures. In other words, the sheep are lying down because they're in green pasture. And green pastures symbolize well-fed, well-nourished sheep. And green pastures do not happen by coincidence. In the work of the shepherd, Keller will write, green pastures were the product of tremendous labor, time and skill and land use.

Green pastures were the result of clearing rough, rocky land, of tearing out brush and roots and stumps, of plowing and careful soil preparation, of seeding and planting special grains, of irrigating with water. If the sheep were to enjoy green pastures amid the brown, barren hills of Bethlehem, the shepherd would have had a tremendous job and task to accomplish. What matters more than anything else than in that little phrase is who your shepherd is. I can lie down, David says.

My heart is satisfied. Look, it's green pastures. Secondly, sheep won't lie down if they're afraid. Keller writes that sheep are so timid and easily panicked that even a stray jackrabbit, suddenly bounding from beneath a bush, can stampede an entire flock. When one startled sheep runs in fright, a dozen others will bolt with it in blind fear, not even waiting to see what frightened them. Any fear, any fear, any suspicion of coyotes, cougars, bears or even dogs, the sheep will stay standing, ready to do what they can only do and that is run. I thought it was wonderful that both of these men said the solution is the presence of the shepherd. Keller would write that to dispel their fear was to simply arrive on the scene. And as soon as the sheep saw their shepherd, knew he was nearby, they would settle down and even lie down.

I thought, wow, this analogy is really obvious, but it's wonderful, isn't it? In the Christian's life, there is no substitute for an awareness of the shepherd nearby. There's no substitute for walking in communion with Jesus Christ, is there?

There's no solution like trusting and believing and applying, sometimes with every ounce of faith you have, that Jesus Christ will keep his promise. And he said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So that, the verse continues, we can say with confidence, the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid for what can man do to me, Hebrews chapter 13. Thirdly, sheep won't lie down if they're thirsty. In fact, would you notice at the end of verse 2, this interesting phrase, he leads me beside still waters. Sheep don't want to get near fast running, fast moving water.

If they fall or get pushed into the water, their heavy coat of wool will become saturated, it will pull them under. Keller adds that when sheep are thirsty, they become restless and they set out in search, but if there's no good shepherd to lead them to a supply of quiet, clean, pure water, where they take their staff and dig away or dam up some rushing stream so that a quiet pool of clear, clean water is available, they will drink from polluted potholes and pick up internal parasites, liver flukes and disease germs. It matters who your shepherd is. The same shepherd who promises us as his sheep to bring to him our hunger and our thirst after righteousness and we shall be satisfied, Matthew chapter 5 verse 6. In other words, all the other shepherds of the world may very well lead you to unsatisfying, unrewarding, diseased, polluted water. Our world is continuing to drink from those kinds of puddles. Our world is filled with wandering lost people, brokenness everywhere, no purpose, struggling to survive in barren fields and they're hungry, they're drinking diseased water.

Matthew's gospel tells us that Jesus, seeing the people, had compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd, Matthew 9.36. Beloved, do you know what our mission is more than ever? It's not so much to rage against the filth of the water in those puddles, but to join David in delivering the news. I know where you can get a drink of clear water. I know where the green pasture is. I know the only one capable of being your shepherd. And by the way, I'm not hungry for that stuff anymore. I'm not thirsty for what the world offers.

Listen, the grass is actually greener on our side, right? Come over here and join us and let us introduce to you the one capable of being your shepherd. I remember years ago hearing the story of a man in the early 1930s who was on the side of the road, car broken down, he was under the hood trying to get his Model A to start again. A beautiful chauffeur-driven car pulled off the road near him and a slight, well-dressed man got out, walked over, asked the man if he could take a look under the hood. The man was a little surprised and said, sure, go ahead. He stayed under there for a few minutes and then stepped back and told the man, you can go start your car now. He went ahead and did it, though he didn't believe it, and sure enough, it started right out. The appreciative man couldn't contain his curiosity and said, you know, you don't look like a mechanic and you came out of a chauffeur-driven car and how did you know how to fix my car? The man quietly responded, well, my name is Henry Ford and I invented your car and I know how it's supposed to work. No matter what the world says, no matter what the media announces, no matter what the courts decide, no matter what your professors teach, no matter what some religious system advises, God created you.

The Creator God invented you and he knows how you're supposed to work. What an appropriate way to end such a powerful message. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. This program is produced by Wisdom International. We're an international Bible teaching ministry dedicated to helping you know what God's Word says, understand what it means, and apply it to your life. The lesson you heard today was called Introducing the Creator Shepherd. If you missed part of it, you can go to our website,, and listen to the whole thing right from that site. We also have an app, the Wisdom International app for your smartphone. Be sure and download that resource. Join us again next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-16 00:44:49 / 2024-01-16 00:54:45 / 10

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