Pulled some notes from a series we did a while back. Only have notes on the first half. Not a sermon, just some interesting thoughts, verse by verse. Will add more in the morning…
And here is a fascinating item: James Limburg points out that, in the original Hebrew of Psalm 23, there are exactly twenty six words before and after, “Thou art with me.”1 Perhaps the poet was boldly declaring that God being with us is at the very center of our lives.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
• Yaweh- the one true God…
• Idea of being utterly contented in the Good Shepherd’s care and consequently not craving or desiring anything more.
• Ever had a pet that had a great yard to roam? Food and water, a dog house, but the stupid dog just wouldn’t stay in the yard. They always longed for what was on the other side of the fence. Even though there was no food, water, or shelter they kept escaping? How are we like these foolish dogs?
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
o Sheep won’t lay down unless 4 requirements are met, the shepherd is the only one that can provide all four.
Must be free of all fear. (FEAR)
Must be free of friction with other sheep in the flock (TENSION)
Must be free of pests, like flies or parasites. (AGGRIVATIONS)
Must be free from hunger (HUNGER)
The shepherd is the one that knows where the deep, pure, refreshing, life giving watering holes can be found. Sheep will drink from any parasite infected pot hole if not led by the shepherd.
3 he refreshes my soul.
• Sheep can get “cast” or “cast down” where they get turned on their back and can not get “back on their feet” without the help of a shepherd.
• Shepherds aren’t the only ones looking for the “down cast/cast down” so are the predators. Buzzards, vultures, dogs, coyotes, and cougars.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
• Sheep can utterly destroy a piece of land because they are creatures of habit. It takes a good shepherd to lead them from place to place to keep the land from being destroyed. His reputation as a shepherd hinges on his ability to keep the land from being “sheeped” to bareness where there is not food and disease is rampant.
FIRST THREE VERSES BASICALLY ARE BASICALLY THE SHEEP ON ONE SIDE OF THE FENCE BOASTING TO ITS UNFORUNATE NEIGHBOR ACROSS THE FENCE ABOUT THE EXCELLENT CARE IT GETS FROM IT’S OWNER ON THE HOME RANCH.
THINGS TAKE A TURN IN VERSE FOUR WHEN THE SHEEP ARE ON THE MOVE TO HIGHER ELEVATIONS DURING THE SUMMER AND MUST WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY AND DANGER IS PARAMOUNT IN THE UNFAMILIAR AREAS. THE SHEEP ARE THEN VERY MUCH ONE ON ONE WITH THE SHEPHERD, DEPENDANT ON HIS COMPANIONSHIP DURING THE DANGER.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
- The shepherds often led the sheep down steep routes when moving to higher elevations because the water they needed was in the valley.
- The sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd to lead and protect them in the valley.
- YOU ARE WITH ME. Very center of the song… Very personal,
- Rod- thrown at predators, thrown to move a wandering sheep back in line. used to pull the wool apart and inspect the sheep’s health.
- Staff- used as a comfort, even for the shepherd himself.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
- Tables- (may be a stretch), but often times the plateaus are called mesas or tables by shepherds, and they have to be prepared in the Spring before the sheep can graze there in the summer. There are poisonous plants that grow that must be removed or else the sheep will eat them.
- Predators are out in the summer like no other time and the shepherd must be constantly vigalant and willing to hunt and kill these predators so the herd can rest peacefully.
- Oil is used by shepherds to deal with the dozen or so types of flies that can become so bothersome to a sheep in the summer that the sheep my become sick or even die or exhaustion from trying to rid themselves of the pesky flies. Some will even smash their heads against rocks and trees to get relief from the flies resulting in injury or death. The oil serves as a fly repelent
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
- My life as a sheep is is under the care of the best shephered and I know his goodness and love will pursue/chase/hound me all the days of my life and I can’t imagine life any other way.