THE SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP
Intro: The Lord could have compared His people to anything in the world.
He could have said, "My people are like bears, they are strong!" He
could have said, "My people are like lions, they are courage, fearless
and brave!" He could have said, "My people are like foxes because they
are so shrewd and wise." He could have even said, "My people are like
doves because they are so peaceful and meek."
Instead, when the Lord described His people. He called them sheep.
As you may or may not know, sheep are not the brightest animals to ever
appear on the earth. In fact, they have a reputation for being quite stupid!
They are dumb and they are defenseless! They require a shepherd to care
for them. They require a shepherd to protect them. They require someone
who will look after their smallest needs and who will lead them to where they
need to be. When the Lord called us sheep, it may be less than flattering,
but it is right on target!
Since sheep are so needy, they form a special bond with their shepherd.
He is required to get to know them intimately. He knows the ones who are
prone to wander. He knows the weaker ones. He knows the loyal ones too.
He even knows them all by name. The sheep, despite their stupidity,
becomes familiar with the voice of the shepherd. They know his sound and
his smell. There is a bond between sheep and shepherd that just isn't found
anywhere else in the world of agriculture.
If you ever come to understand that, then being called a sheep isn't such
a bad thing after all! This much beloved Psalm allows us a glimpse into the
unique relationship between the Heavenly Shepherd and his human sheep.
We are reminded in these verses that we enjoy a special bind with our
Shepherd. Notice the blessings we can glean from this Psalm today as we
think about The Shepherd And His Sheep.
I. V. 1-4 HOW THE SHEPHERD ENCOURAGES HIS SHEEP
A. V. 1 By His Relationship To The Sheep - David indicates that his
relationship with the Heavenly Shepherd is very close and personal.
Notice the use of "My Shepherd" in verse 1. Notice how he
switches from "he" to "thy and thou" in verses 4-5. These indicate
that David is speaking of One Whom he knows intimately and
personally. (Note: David knew from personal experience how close
the Shepherd/sheep relationship was. He knew that the shepherd
was intimately involved with every area of each sheep's life. The
shepherd lived with the sheep. He knew them by name. They were
accustomed to his voice and his presence. They willingly followed
him wherever he lead them and they trusted his to supply every
need they had. He took this relationship and applied to that which
he enjoyed with the Lord.) (Note: This is the same relationship that
every redeemed child of God enjoys with the Lord Jesus Christ
today. We are in an intimate, personal relationship with Him. When
He was here on this earth, He labeled Himself as the "Good
Shepherd", John 10:1-15. This passage reminds us that Jesus
gave His very life to save the sheep. It speaks of the intimacy of our
relationship with Him. How He knows us by name. How He calls us
to follow Him. How we recognize His voice and respond in humble
obedience. That is the kind of relationship we have with the Lord.)
(Note: Are you in a position to call Him "my Shepherd" today? Ill.
How that becomes possible!)
B. V. 1-4 By His Responsibility To The Sheep - Using the language
of the sheepfold, David describes how the Lord ministers to His
sheep. David tells us what the Lord has taken upon Himself to do
for all those who belong to Him.
1. He Promises Them His Provision - We are reminded that the
Good Shepherd takes His sheep into places where they can feed
on the best grasses, rest from their travels and find refreshment
and peace beside placid pools. In other words, David is saying
that those who belong to the Lord are well tended to and have all
their needs met by the Shepherd of their souls! (Ill. Matt. 6:25-33)
2. He Promises Them His Paths - The Good Shepherd always
leads His sheep in the right way. Whether His path leads us
through the glen, as in verse 2, or into the gorge as in verse 4,
He always leads us in the best path of all: His path! (Note: No
one always likes where the path of life leads them, but if they are
following the Good Shepherd, they can be assured that He will
always lead them in the right path, Psa. 37:23.) (Note: The
word paths comes from a word that means "circuit or orbit".
The Lord's leadership always leads us in a path that causes us
to "orbit" Him. Just as the bodies in Heaven are subject to the
gravitational pull of the sun, those who are in His orbit are kept
in a right path about Him at all times!)
3. He Promises Them His Presence - The presence of the Good
Shepherd with His sheep is a theme that permeate the very
fabric of this Psalm. From the idea of His leadership in verses
2-3 to His presence in the darkest of times in verse 4, to His
intimate activity in verse 5, the Lord is seen in close proximity to
His sheep. He is always there to lead them, feed them, protect
them and to watch over them at all times. This is the blessed
truth that God's children should rejoice in today, Heb. 13:5;
4. He Promises Them His Protection - David mentions the
implements of the shepherd's protection: the rod and the staff.
Each of these tools had a very specific purpose in the life of the
sheep. The staff was a long pole with a crook near the end.
With this implement, the shepherd would correct the sheep, draw
them close when they began to wander and lift them out of the
crevices into which they might fall. The rod was muck shorter
than the staff and was used by the shepherd to protect the
sheep from any thing that might try to attack the flock. So too
are the born again sheep of the Lord protected by Him both night
and day! We enjoy a place of absolute protection with Him, Col.
3:3. (Note: Our enemy may walk about as a roaring lion looking
for victims to devour, 1 Pet. 5:8, but he has been chained and
our Father holds the leash!)
C. V. 3 By His Restoration Of The Sheep - Just as a weary sheep is
refreshed by feasting in the green pasture and drinking from the still
waters and lying in a place of safety and peace, so are the saints of
God refreshed by their divine Shepherd. Think of the drought that
was in your soul when you were yet in sin! Remember how the Lord
came and brought life to you in that terrible condition! Remember
the times since when you have neglected His house, His Word and
His fellowship and you have become weary and worn and once
again the cruel tentacles of the deadness and coldness began to
entwine themselves around your soul. Now, think of how He came
to you in your lost condition or in your backslidden condition and how
He forgave you all your sins and trespasses. How He breathed new
life into your soul. How He brought back the blush of youth into the
cheeks of your spiritual man. Remember when He lifted you out of
the pit of apathy and complacency and let you look into the promised
land of spiritual victory! That is what He does for His sheep! He
replaces their deadness with His life. He melts the coldness of their
hearts with the warmness of His embrace. He transforms the spirit
and revives the cold heart! (Note: This is always accomplished
through the medium of confession and repentance, 1 John 1:9. If
things in your life are not as they should be, then I would encourage
you to get to the Shepherd! He will restore your soul and put you
where you need to be!)
Do You Know The Shepherd?
II. V. 5 HOW THE SHEPHERD ENTERTAINS HIS SHEEP
(Note: The scene has changed from a Shepherd and His sheep to a
Host and His guests. David tells us that even while moving through the
territory of the enemy, the Lord takes the time to treat him like and
honored guest. This is seen in a couple of ways in this verse.)
A. Through His Arrangements - Usually a soldier in enemy territory
would be forced to gulp down a hasty meal as best he could while he
cowered in fear of being discovered, captured or killed. However,
the Lord spreads the table for His children right in the middle of the
enemy's territory and all the enemy can do is watch us as we feast
on the blessings of the Lord. (Note: I do not think that we will ever
fully grasp this, but there are times in life that seem almost
unbearable to us as humans. It is those times when the enemy
comes to us and mocks us and to question our determination to
follow the Lord. But, through the ministry of the Lord, He is able to
turn the worst of times into the greatest of blessings. He leaves us
feasting on His grace while the enemy sulks, unable to hinder us,
harm us or even touch us! That is how the Lord arranges life for His
glory and our good, Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17.)
B. Through His Anointing - When guests visited in a home, they were
often anointed with oil to show them how much they meant to their
host. It was considered an insult not to wash the feet and anoint the
head of your guests. As we move through this life, the Lord takes
many opportunities to anoint us with the oil of His grace. His
goodness and blessings are all reminders that we are precious in
His sight! (Note: I don't care what the devil may have told you, you
are precious to the Lord! So precious, in fact, that He sent His Son
to die for you on the cross, John 3:16; Rom. 5:8. So precious that
He gave His all so that you might be saved! If you are saved, then
you are His child! Adopted in His family and His heir! You are
precious in His sight today! No one is more loved than you are!)
C. Through His Abundance - David tells us that the Lord's blessings
in his life are so great that he has more than he can handle! His cup
has passed full and has run over into the saucer! (Note: That is
exactly how the Lord treats His precious children. If you are in a
place where He can bless you, then look out, because He certainly
will! If some of you were to testify this morning, you could tell us that
there have been times when the Lord filled your cup to the
overflowing! There have been times when His presence and the
reality of His glory was almost more than you could bear! Those are
the real blessings of the Lord! Thank God for the times when He fills
the cup!) (Note: Some will not bring their cup to the table and as a
result they are never filled with all of His blessings. Others have
their cups filled with too much other stuff and there is no room for
Him to put anything into their lives. Others believe that it isn't for
them! Friend, God wants to bless your life beyond your wildest
dreams. The very best thing you could do today is to bring yourself
to Him and say, "Lord. Fill my cup!" If you do, and do so with an
honest, hungry heart, He will fill your life to overflowing and beyond.
He is looking for people who are willing and who want all that He had
to give them! Is that person you?)
Do You Know The Shepherd?
III. V. 6 HOW THE SHEPHERD EXCITES HIS SHEEP
(Note: The scene changes again. Now David pictures himself as a
pilgrim headed to a city. This verse tells us what He will do for us along
the way home.)
A. He Provides Them With His Grace - The pilgrim is assured that
goodness and mercy will be his constant companions along the way
home. These are the components of grace and remind us that as
we travel we will always be blessed with grace sufficient to the need, 2 Cor. 9:12. We need to know that there is nothing in life that we
can face that will be greater than His ability to see us through. You
see, we are following One Who plans and knows the way we take, Psa. 37:23; Job 23:10. He also goes with us along the way to
ensure us a safe passage through this violent and harsh land. With
Him near, there is nothing to fear!
(Ill. The great Scottish preacher John McNeill told that during his
childhood he had to walk a long distance home every evening, and
his route led through a forest with a large ravine. Reports said that
wild animals and gangs of robbers were often seen in that area.
Great fear would seize his heart as he made his way past the
spooky looking trees. He recalled, "One night it was especially dark,
but I was aware that something or someone was moving slowly and
quietly toward me. I was sure it was a robber. When a voice called
out, its eerie tone struck my heart with fear. I thought I was finished.
Then came a second call. This time I could hear the voice saying,
'John, is that you?' It was my father. He had known of my fear and
had come out to meet me."
It was a word from John McNeill's father that brought peace to
his fearful heart that night. What we fearful humans need is a word
from our Father. A word from Him who is able to expel our fears and
eliminate our worries. We have such a word before us this morning.)
B. He Promises Them His Glory - David concludes this Psalm with a
precious reminder that this life down here will end some day, but that
those who know the Lord will move to a new realm to live for
eternity. Some people believe that David is referring to the
Tabernacle in this verse. I like to think that he is looking a little
farther away than that! I think he is looking forward to a time when
he will be in the presence of the Lord is Heaven. That is the destiny
of every child of God today! (Ill. John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:4; Rev. 22:3-4!)
(Note: If the thought of His grace here and His glory there don't light
your fire, then your wood must be wet! There is something about
knowing that He is going to see me through this life and usher me
into that glorious, eternal, sinless life in Heaven that just stirs my
heart! Thank God our Shepherd knows how to thrill His sheep!)
Conc: Do you know the Shepherd? If you do, then I invite you to look at
your relationship with Him today. Is it all it should be? Is it all it could be?
If not, then this altar is open to receive you. If you will confess your
shortcomings to Him, He will restore your soul!
If you do not know the Shepherd today, then I invite you to come meet
Him today. He loved you enough to die for you and He will save your soul
if you will come to Him today.