The Good Shepherd                   

(rev 10-10-14)

Moses, the iconic leader of the Nation of Israel, was taken into the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt at age 12, where, through the years of his maturation, he received a thorough schooling    and first-hand experience in the administration of government,   as well as extensive military training at the feet of the Pharaoh’s elite.

And when he fled Egypt, after 40 years of service in the King’s palace, Moses spent the next 40 years   tending sheep for his father-in-law  – all of which God was able to employ to outfit him, to refine him, and to thoroughly prepare him to lead the 6 million or so Israelites thru their wilderness journey,  over the ensuing 40 year time period.

We see, too, King David’s preparation as a shepherd    through the years of his youth, which aptly prepared him to shepherd Israel   as their mighty King.

Psalm 78:70-71 “He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs, He brought him, to shepherd Jacob, His people,   and Israel, His inheritance.”

Ultimately, the Messiah,   the Christ,   Emmanual,   God with us,   verily God incarnate in our flesh, became    the Supreme Shepherd.  Psalm 100:3 “We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.”  KJV

And He became The Lamb, for your sake and mine!  John the Baptist declared, when he saw Jesus approaching the river bank where he was baptizing at the time, “Behold!  The Lamb of God  which taketh away the sins of the world!”   But it was absolutely necessary for Him to  first become The Lamb   before becoming our Shepherd!

Jesus is the innocent Lamb, and He’s the Good Shepherd!  He is the Sacrifice and He’s the High Priest!  He is our Intercessor and Advocate,   and He is our Judge!  Jesus is our All-in-All – He’s the real deal, the entire package.   It’s all in Christ!

Does the Lord have a resume?  What do you think?  Where do we find our answers?   In the Bible!  What do the Scriptures say?  You bet He does!  Let’s take a look at it. Psalm 23 is virtually the Savior’s resume!

Are you familiar with the 23rd Psalm?  You may find it interesting that Psalm 23 is written from the perspective of the sheep, rather than from the viewpoint of the Shepherd.  This is the sheep speaking …


Psalm 23:1  “The Lord is my Shepherd”   Is He your Shepherd?  When I was just a wee tike, I remember looking at that famous depiction of Jesus holding the little lamb in His arms. and saying,  just wishing: “That’s me! That little lamb is me!”  Did you say that, too?  That’s me!

The good news, straight from the Gospel, is:  we don’t have to wish and pretend,   because that  little lamb that Jesus is carrying back to the safety of the fold … represents us – his wayward, wandering children.  The little lamb is you and me!  And Jesus is our Shepherd.

Isa 53:6  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way;”  KJV

So, this opening statement “The Lord is my Shepherd” – suggests a caring, nurturing relationship.  The shepherd represents everything the sheep could possibly need.  What are some of the things that a shepherd might do for his flock?  1) Protect them from harm and danger – from wild animals.  2) Lead them to water and safe feeding.  3) Take care of their hurts, wounds, and sicknesses.  4) Seek them when they stray from the fold, or are really lost.  Why would we ever choose to wander away from Him?   Sounds like parenting, doesn’t it?

Ps 100:3  “We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”  NIV  Doesn’t our Shepherd do all these things, and more, for us?  Protect? Provide? Guide?  Restore?  He leads us to the Water of Life, and to safe feeding on the Bread of Life, His Word.  He heals our infirmities; seeks and restores the lost.   And He is our Father in the flesh.  He’s God in the humanity.  Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.”  His name is Emmanuel – meaning God with us, or more literally, He is God in us!

Continuing with verse 1: “I shall not want”  (or I shall not lack.)  He will supply all your essential needs, as you trust in Him!  As one of God’s sheep, the promise is: you will lack nothing that is necessary for your well-being.   Will He give me a Mercedes-Benz?  That’s very doubtful!  But my little Honda more than meets my needs, and it gives me no problems, no headaches, no let-downs, no disappointments.

Psalm 34:9, 10 “If you belong to the Lord, reverence him; for everyone who does this has everything he needs;  but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”  TLB 

He leads His sheep to abundant  grazing, in a completely safe setting

A paraphrase of Psalm 23:1 says: “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!”

A good shepherd is everything and all things that a sheep may need.  A good shepherd, by his very nature, will always supply all of the sheep’s needs –  in the same way that a good father provides for every need of his child.   And so it is with our Heavenly Father and us.

Psalm 23:2  “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”

TLB  Ps 23:2  “He lets me rest in the meadow grass.”

Sheep don’t graze lying down, but they do lie down to rest after feeding.  So, this particular verse suggests a refreshing rest for the sheep – perhaps a leisurely after-dinner nap – while comfortably stretched out in the rich, cool, lush grass of the meadow.

Jesus told His followers, John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”  NIV

The Lord provides perfect rest, peace, refuge, and security – both temporal and spiritual.  His peace is the assurance that, despite the all turmoil around us, all will be well as we remain connected with Him.

John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  NIV     He is the safe refuge, your abiding place.

Continuing with verse 2: “He leadeth me beside the still waters”

TLB  Psalm 23:2: “He leads me beside the quiet streams.”   Sheep will not drink from troubled waters.  The water must be still, calm, quiet.

Remember Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well?

John 4:6-15  A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink” … Then the woman said to Him, “How is it that You … ask a drink from me? Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.”  Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

Then the woman said to Him, “Where, then, do You get that living water?” Jesus said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that  I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”  NKJV

And there’s the final appeal at the end of the last book of the Bible: Rev 22:17  “And let him who thirsts    come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” NKJV

THAT  is the water He will lead you to! He will refresh you when you thirst for that Living Water!

Psalm 23:3  “He restoreth my soul …”  The Parable of the Lost Sheep:

Luke 15:4-6  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  NKJV

He heals the wounded and comforts the broken-hearted!  He seeks and restores the lost.  And He provides a new future    where there was none.  The Promised Canaan Land was to be Israel’s restoration.  And the Earth-made-new  is the Promised Land of His Redeemed.

“… He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness …”

Matthew 7:14 “… strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” KJV   He guides us along the narrow, uphill path to His Eternal Kingdom.   That’s better than having AAA mapping your trip.  Even better than GPS!

“… for His name sake”  All He provides is to His glory; all to fulfill His purposes, and all for His honor!  Yet it’s all incredibly   for our benefit!

4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …”  Have you ever been in “the valley”?  Lost in the abyss?  Trials!  Testing times!  Pressure!  Dire straits!  Sickness, sorrow, temptation, loneliness, fear?  Danger?  His promise is to be your Shepherd   thru the good    and the bad, from the cradle to the grave … throughout all Eternity!

“… I will fear no evil …” – we can have full confidence in His protection – assurance of His presence, and of His watch-care.  Call on His name,  invite His abiding presence and His power.

“… For Thou art with me…” – His promise “I will never leave you nor forsake you!”  Listen to this modern translation of this verse …
4 “Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.” 

“… Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me” – The “rod” was actually a cudgel, or a club, worn on the belt, and used to defend the sheep and the shepherd himself from predators.  The “staff” was his walking stick, often with a crook at the top, to lift sheep from the ditch, and to guide back in with the rest of the flock.  Gentle discipline is sometimes a necessity, often a comfort!   “Whom I love, I correct!”

5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” Illustrates His faithfulness to us in times of our greatest need!  A caring shepherd will lead his sheep to abundant  grazing, in a safe setting.   “You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies.”  

Ps 84:11 “… No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. 

Some time back, I heard a preacher theorize that this line suggests not only the Lord’s preparation of a lavish banquet table for His people, but also that it is the shepherd’s duty to lead his flock up the hillside to higher ground, to the broad, flat, vast, tableland that will provide rich grazing, and a safe environment, where predators and enemies may be spotted while still far off.  Our Shepherd instructs His sheep to seek “higher ground”.

 “… Thou annointest my head with oil …”  Oil served as an ointment for the scrapes and scratches the sheep sometimes received while foraging for food among thorns and brambles in the underbrush.  Also, I’ve read that a scented oil was used by the Middle-Eastern shepherd to protect the sheep from annoying insects. 

A hospitable host would wash the feet and anoint the head of special guest.   Oil ultimately represents the Holy Spirit.  Anointing was for healing; also for honoring an important individual.  The Psalmist, David, implies here, “You have welcomed me, honored me as your guest.”   The Lord honors the faithful.  He consecrates us to Him!

“… My cup runneth over …” – The immeasurable abundance of His providence is far more than we deserve!  Blessings overflowing!

6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Now, it is no longer enemies or predators who pursue us, but it’s God’s grace and mercy, His goodness and His providence!  This verse expresses the assurance of His continued blessing for those who trust in Him and serve Him!

“… And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever – Now, there’s genuine “social security” – a retirement program that won’t run out! 

That means abiding in God’s presence, under His care, In His Kingdom without end, forever, throughout all eternity!

Here’s the complete verse 6 from The Living Bible: Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.

When you’ve got a great book, have you ever “cheated” and skipped to the last chapter, just to see how it’s going to end?  Revelation 21:2 to 4 “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them;  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.’ ”

Is Jesus your Shepherd?  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).