Sermon – February 24, 2018
This passage is a beautiful, comforting passage. In it we hear about the love of God, the power of this God, and what he willingly, lovingly, and mercifully does for his people. It is a well known passage because it truly is a powerful passage. Psalm 22 is a vivid description of how the shepherd died for the sheep. Psalm 23 describes how the Lord lives to care for the flock.
1. God Shepherds His People (vv. 1-4)
David sets the tone immediately with the bold exclamation that “The Lord is my shepherd.” The fact that David here refers to God as his shepherd shows one aspect of the relationship between God and his people. He cares for them. He nourishes and nurtures them. He guides them. He protects them from danger. He loves them.
That inevitably leads to the most important question. Is the Lord your shepherd? Everything is predicated on this truth. David begins the Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd.” It is personal. It is not a generic truth that God is the close, intimate shepherd of all of mankind. The things that he provides as a shepherd – rest, nourishment, peace, restoration, guidance, protection, and comfort – are only available to those who are among his sheep. Is this something you can truly say accurately describes you? Have you fully trusted and followed the shepherd? Are you holding back and wandering off on your own? Are you giving lip service to the Shepherd, but meanwhile continuing to wade through the ditch and quagmire of sin, as if that is compatible with the Christian life? Turn to him before it is too late. The Lord is my shepherd is a glorious statement, but only if it rings true for you.
2. God Blesses His People (v. 5)
Here we see a beautiful picture of God pouring out his blessing on his people. He is preparing a banquet table for them. This is not merely providing the minimum level of sustenance, but rather this is the imagery of someone preparing a feast for an honored guest. And this is doing it in presence of his enemies, in spite of them and with their full knowledge. God is setting his particular blessing upon his chosen and loved people.
This is what we can expect as the people of God. Though we do not deserve it, though we did not earn it, and in spite of ourselves, God treats us with blessings above and beyond. He gives us himself. We receive God himself.
3. God Dwells with His People (v. 6)
We can count on the goodness and mercy from our gracious God because we can rely on his faithful promises. He is our shepherd who cares and provides for us, who guides us, and who protects us. He is our King who blesses us beyond all comprehension. And he is our God who promises to dwell with us for all of eternity. God has promised this in his Word, and this Word has proven to be unshakable. God always keeps his promises, and for the people of God, this is a very, very good thing. We not only dwell with him now as his Spirit dwells within us, but we will be in his presence forever.
God promises to care for his flock himself. Even as the leaders in Israel failed in their task, God promised to set this right. He would do this as a shepherd. And he would do this as he condescended to us. This prophecy, of course, was fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:11,14–16)