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Nasal Flies and Sheep Dogs

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2024 12:00 am

Nasal Flies and Sheep Dogs

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 18, 2024 12:00 am

Why is it that the things we run from -- pain, discomfort, friction, etc. -- are often the best things for us? In this deeply practical look at Psalm 23:5-6, Stephen show us again why we are just like sheep. Access all of the resources and lessons in this series: https://www.wisdomonline.org/the-song-volume-1

 

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Don't you love the fact that David settled the question that every believer might wonder? Are those sheepdogs going to just chase after me on good days or every other day or maybe every year or so or when I'm deserving of them? No.

Did you notice? All the days of my life. The days of faithfulness to the Lord and the days of unfaithfulness. The days when you're treated justly and the days you're treated unjustly. The days when you are loved and the days when you are despised.

But behind you, they're pursuing you God's goodness and mercy. What did David mean when he said goodness and mercy would follow him all the days of his life? It's an important question because while David enjoyed the blessing of God, he also endured severe hardship and persecution. Through all of it, his perception was that God's mercy and goodness was persistently present in his life. That's information you and I need to know and believe and we're exploring it today here on Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey continues his series through the book of Psalms looking at several of the songs of King David.

He called this message, Nasal Flies and Sheepdogs. In the early 1900s, a British expositor and a pastor by the name of G. Campbell Morgan wrote the book of Psalms is the book in which the emotions of the human soul find expression. Whatever your mood, and I suppose you have changing moods as well as I do, you can find a Psalm to express it. Are you glad? You can find a Psalm to help you sing.

Are you sad? You can find a Psalm that will suit that occasion too. The Psalms range over the whole gamut of human emotions, but in every one of these songs, whether in a major or minor key, the singer is conscious of God.

Well said. In fact, by the time you get just through the opening lyrics of a Psalm that I thought we'd cover in one night, what was I thinking? David has made it absolutely clear that without God, none of this song works. Only the Lord is able to bring satisfaction. Only the Lord can make it possible for you to lie down. Only the Lord can turn barren wilderness into green pastures.

You get all the way down here. Only the Lord is capable of leading you in the paths where you ought to walk. Only the Lord can protect you. Only the Lord can, with his rod, protect you and with his staff, hold your hand. And that's just the first four verses. But listen, you don't get the rewards of Psalm 23 unless you have the relationship of Psalm 23. If you can't start out by singing, the Lord is, present tense, my personally possessive, shepherd, personal leader guide, then the rest of this song is unsingable, right?

I mean, you can't even get past the opening line. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not what? I shall not want.

That's impossible. One author wrote, come with me to the most populated prison in the world. The facility has more inmates than bunks, more prisoners than plates, more residents than resources. No prison is so populated. No prison is so oppressive. Just ask the inmates.

They will tell you they're overworked and underfed. The name of the prison? Four letters on the front gate, spell it out. W-A-N-T. The prison of want.

You've seen her prisoners. They are always in want. They want something. They want something nicer, bigger, faster, thinner, better, newer, younger. They don't want it all now, mind you, just one more thing.

One new couch, one new car, one new house, one new job, one more dollar, one more trip, one more toy, one more makeover, one more award, one more sale. Then we'll be satisfied. David the psalmist invites you to sit down. He looks across the coffee table at you and whispers, I have found the pasture land where discontent dies. The Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not want. There it is. What you have in God is greater than what you do not have in life. Spurgeon imagines, and I think correctly so, David is a young lad sitting under a tree somewhere in the hills of Bethlehem watching over his sheep and he's writing under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This particular song in his heart is as full of gladness as it can hold. Let's get to the fifth stanza. David effectively says, Lord, there's something else I want to praise you for doing. Look at verse five. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You catch that? Sheep following the Lord can end up being taken into a valley of dark shadows. Sheep following the Lord can be surrounded by enemies.

Notice what happens. Instead of cowering in fear, you're eating a feast. I found it interesting in my research to discover that several translations of this phrase, particularly in Swahili and Spanish translated from the word mesa might give you a little better image of what he's talking about here. This is more than likely a mesa. This table is a high summer range and an energetic shepherd has taken the time and the effort and the trouble to go ahead of his flock to prepare for their arrival, to go up to the mesa and get it ready for the arrival of the flock, the sheep.

He is not going to just take them up there and cut them loose. Philip Keller writes about taking his young children and going up to the mesa, the summer table land there, the rise or a ridge, and he would say we would make a game out of pulling the poisonous weeds as we prepared for the flock to come. They'll eat anything. Not like us, but they'll eat anything.

He talked about how in one field one beautifully attractive flower would bloom, the white camas flower. Attractive but deadly to sheep. He wrote, if lambs in particular eat or even just nibble a few of the lily-like leaves emerging in the spring grasses, they will become paralyzed, stiffen up like blocks of wood and succumb to the toxic poisons from the plant and die. A shepherd has to go ahead and prepare it. In fact, what a great analogy for us as a flock.

A little lamb's susceptible, especially endangered, along with older, more mature sheep as well. Why? Because it's our nature to taste everything. It's our nature that if something looks good, well, it must be good. Whatever we're attracted to, we want a sample. We don't want to be told. We want a sample.

We want to experiment. No, it's toxic. Don't you want a good shepherd who's alert like our Lord? That's just stuff you eat. There are problems out there that will eat you, like these predators that I read about as I researched from these authors. Timothy Laniac said that he would go to inspect the fields for vipers, a small brown snake that lived under the ground, a poisonous viper that would come up and nip the noses of the sheep causing inflammation or possibly death. He wrote this interesting statement. While shepherds watch their flocks, so do the wolves.

That's a good statement. While shepherds watch their flocks at night, so do the wolves. In fact, he said it's a nightly match of watching, waiting and outwitting the wolf. He wrote, I have seen Middle Eastern shepherds, young lads, spend all night shouting, whistling, throwing stones in all directions with their little slings because they knew the wolves were there even though they couldn't see them. The problem is sheep can't defend themselves against the wolf. They require a shepherd.

But here's the interesting thing. David sings, we're not in a panic. We're just close to the shepherd. He's there. And would you notice the absolute calm of this phrase? Look at it again. You prepare a table, a mesa before me in the presence of my enemy. In other words, they're hiding. They're watching. They're in the shadows.

They're in the canyon walls. They're watching and waiting. But get this, this picture is one of perfect peace. The Lord isn't panicking.

The Lord is not saying, all right, here you go. There it is. Eat, eat quick and run.

Spurgeon put it this way. The tablecloth is carefully unfolded and the plates of the feast are displayed as on any ordinary occasion. Nothing is hurried. There's no panic or disturbance.

Nothing's rushed. The enemy's at the door, but the Lord prepares the table and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. What an incredible picture of the peace of God, which passes all understanding. There are wolves out there. The Lord says, look here, sit down. I've prepared what you need.

Eat, get this, take your time. In the next phrase, David moves on to bring up yet another rather troublesome aspect of being a sheep that demands a kind, gracious, caring shepherd. Notice again in verse five, you pour oil on my head. Well, you've got to go back into the scene to find out what they're talking about. Sheep are especially troubled by nasal flies.

Philip Keller and Timothy Lanick both talked about it. Little flies buzz around the sheep's head, attempting to deposit their eggs in the moist mucus membranes of the nose of the sheep. If they are successful, those eggs will hatch and in a few days will form our small, slender, worm like larvae that will work their way into the nasal passages of of the sheep. And for relief from rather agonizing annoyance, sheep will beat their heads against trees, stumps, rocks. In extreme cases, the sheep may fatally hurt themselves and in this frenzied attempt to get rid of of this terrible aggravation. In other cases, advanced stages of infection from these flies will lead to blindness. In the summertime, sheep are prone to something called the scab.

It's a microscopic parasite that proliferates in warm weather and it causes infections, itching. Scab in Latin means to itch. It effectively came to represent contamination and sin. In fact, it's interesting, you go back into the Old Testament and the sacrificial lamb had to be without blemish. Many Old Testament scholars believe this was a reference to the scab. It had to be free from parasites because the parasite would represent contamination.

And for us in this analogy, sin. I remember many years ago as a sophomore in college working in the field of a man who owned a couple of acres earning money over Christmas break. I was pulling some small stumps and rocks clearing these acres, pulling vines out. By the time I finished, it was time to go back to college. A few days after returning to college, I noticed some red spots around my waist that really itched and I just knew I'd gotten into poison ivy and pulled up some poison ivy vines and I thought, that's all I need. I waited a while, you know, hoping it would miraculously cure itself. Watched a few Benny Hinn shows, laid my hand on the TV, nothing happened.

It just continued to grow. Besides, I was afraid of going to the doctor because I hate needles. I hate needles to this day. A shot. Anybody here hate needles like I do?

Yes. It just makes me want to faint. I'm a real trip when I go have blood taken.

The girl has to pat me on the head and hold my hand, but I just can't stand it. So I waited. It didn't go away. It just kind of spread. I finally gave in and went to the campus doctor. He took one look at me and he said, you've got a case of poison ivy, son.

And what do you need is a shot. So he gave me a shot and that red rash just began to expand and spread. I think that syringe was filled with Miracle Grove because that's all it did. Before long, it was up to my chest and upper arms and it just itched terribly. I waited about a month in agony and finally went back to the campus doctor.

I'm convinced he didn't graduate from medical school. And he looked at me and I can still remember him saying, that's the worst case of poison ivy I have ever seen. What you need is a shot. And he gave me a shot and it just continued to spread. It went around to my back, covered my all of my stomach. It had reached my neck and just terrible itching.

By this time, spring had arrived. I was in a little Baptist college in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and weather there gets warm early and humid. I lived in a house storm and had to walk several blocks to classes. And I can't tell you what just a little sweat on my back did to that itch. I had so badly, I dreaded putting on a neck tie. We had to wear it for our morning classes. And I kept the top button of my shirt loose and my girlfriend was begging me, go to a real doctor, one that actually graduated from medical school.

And I said, I can't, they cost money for one thing and I don't have any insurance. So I waited. I finally had to move out of my dormitory and I moved into the little school clinic because at night they had an air conditioner. And I would cover myself with calamine lotion and I would lie there, unable to sleep, terribly itching even then. Couldn't study, couldn't sit still to study, couldn't concentrate, my grades began to fall.

They didn't have far to go to fall, but they began to fall. And it lasted nearly an entire semester and finally I couldn't stand it any longer. I took my girlfriend's advice and went to a doctor off campus. I finally made it into the examination room and when he walked in, I said, doctor, I've got a case of poison ivy from an alien planet.

It's been terrible. He said, well, son, just stand right there. And he sat down on a stool. He said, lift your shirt. And he took out a magnifying glass and he held it up to my skin and he said, son, you do not have poison ivy.

You picked up a microscopic parasite out in some field somewhere and it's been roaming freely around your body, laying eggs and multiply. What you need is a shot. He gave me a shot and he gave me prescription ointment and I'll never forget that night for the first time in months I slept. It was unbelievable relief.

And that girlfriend who gave me such good advice, I married her out of sheer gratitude and a lot of love. I would realize later the name of that was scabies, the scab. I was never more at that moment like a sheep than like David describes here and what I encountered and what I needed was a close encounter with a good doctor.

I couldn't solve it on my own. A sheep that's plagued with nasal flies or scabies needs a close encounter with a good shepherd. And David knew what that meant to get his staff and he'd see one of his irritated sheep. He'd see him rubbing his head or hitting his head on a rock and he'd pull him close and he'd pull out his flask and he had a homemade remedy. He'd have a little sulfur in it evidently from what I've read and some linseed oil and maybe a little tar and some other spices and he'd take it out and he'd pour it on the head and he'd rub it around the ears and the nasal passages and on the infected scab, those welts that had grown up that were itching so terrible.

Modern methods today, they'll dip a sheep into a vat with a parasite killing liquid but I found it interesting that even to this day many shepherds prefer to treat the head of the sheep by hand. See, David is actually referring to this touching, caring, healing, personal encounter with his good shepherd where that contamination in this analogy would be that which troubles us ultimately sin. That sin must be dealt with and we can't rid ourselves of the guilt. We can't do enough penance. We can't crawl up enough stairs on our knees. We can't do enough good deeds to somehow rid our aggravated, irritated, despairing minds of that that contaminates us.

We need a good shepherd. So we come to him and he with his own hands, his forgiving hands cleanse us. And what a relief. Is there anything more relieving than a clean conscience? You ever held on to a sin until you've finally gone to the Lord and said, you know what, I need to confess this. Would you forgive me and take it away? Is there anything more relieving than that?

That's why David says, you anoint my head with oil, then what? My cup what? My cup overflows. That's another way of saying what a relief.

I am so overjoyed. I'm satisfied because he has dealt with us exceedingly abundantly above that which we could ask to think he lavishes upon us his grace. We have a good shepherd and that in all David's final stanza begins here at verse six. Where he says, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. That that verb in the Hebrew language. Follow me could be stronger. You might write into the margin of your Bible.

You could translate it pursued. I like that. Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life. I love this idea. You have the shepherd in front of you and behind you, you have his two faithful sheep dogs pursuing you.

And what are their names? Goodness. That's the Hebrew word for abundant care and mercy.

That's the word for covenant, unbreakable, kindness, love his promises. So look behind you. Go ahead. Just look behind you. What do you see? His care, his promises that he kept. He'll never leave you. He will continually cleanse you.

Don't you love the fact that David settled the question that every believer might wonder? Are those sheep dogs going to just chase after me on good days or every other day or maybe every year or so or what I'm deserving of them? No. Did you notice all the days of my life every day, the good days and the bad days, the days of faithfulness to the Lord and the days of unfaithfulness to the Lord, the days when you're treated justly and the days you're treated unjustly, the days when you are loved and the days when you are despised.

Look behind you. They're pursuing you God's goodness and mercy. When I come to the end of my days, I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I'm going to change locations, but I'm not going to change shepherds. See, David begins with the Lord as his shepherd and he ends by saying he's going to dwell with the Lord, his shepherd. Can you imagine that life? It'll be free of temptation and trouble.

No more wolves will be perfected and glorified. Would you notice the subtle shift here from a pasture to a house? This is the glorious dwelling place.

This is the Father's house. What a shepherd. I want you to know who my shepherd is.

It's the Lord. He makes it possible for me to lie down in green pastures. He leads my timid soul to quiet waters. He restores my soul as he stands me back up on my feet time and time again. He leads me in the wagon tracks.

He leads me in the ruts of rightness with God for his name's sake. And even though I do end up following him down to the deep dark shadows of that valley, I'm not afraid because you're with me. Your rod protects me. Your staff holds my hand. You prepare a table for me right in the midst of all of my enemies. You anoint my head with cleansing, forgiving oil so that my cup simply overflows with gratitude and satisfaction. And then goodness and mercy will dog my heels every day of my life. And then when my days are done, I'm going to trade in a pasture for a palace.

And I'm going to dwell in the house of my father, God, my shepherd, my king forever. I'm glad you were with us today for this message Stephen called Nasal Flies and Sheepdogs. I invite you to sign up for a free membership in a group we call Friends of Wisdom. Once you do, you're going to begin receiving resources from Stephen that will help you walk wisely through life. Friends of Wisdom receive an email from Stephen each Tuesday. He might send you an encouraging article to help you better apply God's word to your everyday life.

Sometimes he sends an answer to a Bible question he received. At least once a month, our Friends of Wisdom receive a free and exclusive resource. Joining Friends of Wisdom is both free and easy. All you need to do is visit wisdomonline.org forward slash friends and fill out a brief form.

That's it. You'll be signed up and you'll start hearing from Stephen very soon. And when you sign up, you'll receive two free resources immediately. You're going to get Stephen's booklet called Blessed Assurance and you're going to receive a booklet called The Coming Tribulation.

Once again, visit wisdomonline.org forward slash friends. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible lessons, we also have a magazine that we publish. Stephen deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. For example, some past topics have included such things as how to forge friendships. What can we know about angels, demons and the spirit world? How can we have a biblically based marriage? What is church discipline all about and church restoration and how should it be used?

And much more. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain rooted and grounded in God's Word every day. A new addition to the magazine is a journal. The journal gives you the opportunity to take some notes as you listen to the wisdom journey or wisdom for the heart. We call the magazine Heart to Heart. This is a resource that we developed for two reasons. We use it to show our appreciation to all of our wisdom partners. We also send three issues of Heart to Heart magazine as a gift to everyone who asks. We'd like to send it to you if you haven't seen it yet. You can sign up for it on our website. Go to wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. That's wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. And then join us back here next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 00:48:18 / 2024-01-18 00:57:46 / 9

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