2 May 2012
Theme: Connecting with God
Topic: The Lord is my shepherd
Reading: Psalm 23:1-6
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;*3 he restores my soul.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,* I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.6 Surely* goodness and mercy* shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Our text for today’s study is one of the most popular chapters in the Bible. I recall that I learned to recite it as a kid (little boyJ). What I believe to be the key verse in the entire chapter is the first verse: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want’. The profound truth in this verse is quite intriguing to me for the following reasons 1) the order in which the verse was written- first it says the Lord is my shepherd and then I shall not be in want; this always reminds me that God is first and He chose us and never the other way round; 2) the rest of the chapter is linked to the second part of the verse, I shall not be in want, which itself is rooted in the first part- the Lord is my shepherd. In this study, we shall take a closer look at Psalm 23 and how God in this chapter, reveals the depth of His love and care for His children.
1. What is your personal interpretation of Psalm 23:1a- ‘The Lord is my shepherd’?
How is the Lord our shepherd?
9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings;* lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, *lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ 10 See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
John 10:2-4, 11-18
2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
11 ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.18No one takes* it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’
2. How is Psalm 23:1b - ‘I shall not be in want’ relevant to us followers of Christ today?
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;* 3 he restores my soul.* He leads me in right paths* for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,* I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely* goodness and mercy* shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.*
Philippians 4:4-7, 10-19
Rejoice* in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.*5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
10 I rejoice* in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it.*11Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.14In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
15 You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone.16For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once.17Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account.18I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.19And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
3. What are our responsibilities as recipients of God’s abundant love, care, grace and much more?
What good is it, my brothers and sisters,* if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,16and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.20Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren?21Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.23Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God.24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.25Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
1 Peter 5:1-10
Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you2to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight,* not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it*—not for sordid gain but eagerly.3Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock.4And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.5In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders.* And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.8Discipline yourselves; keep alert.* Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters* throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
1 John 3:16-18
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister* in need and yet refuses help? 18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
God has called us to be His children and more than able to love and care for us. Let us always be thankful to Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. May we also love and be merciful as God has loved us and shown us mercy.
Psalm 23. Amen.