• Pastor John Rhodes

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd Psalm 23

It can be very abstract to talk about God. How can we know anything about the most powerful force in the Universe? Can we really know if he cares for us, or even wants to listen to us? God, who is spiritual and unseen, may seem remote from our daily lives.

However, God has made a way to know about him. We can know about God by analogy. An analogy is a picture that we can relate to, it’s something even children can understand.

At the beginning of Psalm 23 it says it is a psalm of David. David was a famous king and fierce warrior defeating many enemies, but before that he was a shepherd boy. Taking care his father’s sheep his thoughts turned to God. He began to communicate with his creator. God said something to him like this, “David, you really take good care of the sheep. I want you to know that I am a good shepherd too! I’ll take care of you if you want me to, if you ask me.” David did ask and he learned how to walk with God by faith. The many psalms he composed reveal an intimate relationship with to God. He composed this famous psalm.

Psalm 23 gives us a picture or analogy of God as a good shepherd. There are three things the Good Shepherd does when looking after sheep. First, he….

1. Provides for their every need. verses 1-3 v1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. v2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, v3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Green pastures create an image of good, nutritious food feeding body and soul. Quiet waters are refreshing and thirst quenching. Jesus said, “He who believes in me, out of his inmost being will flow rivers of living water.” This was fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The right paths, or “paths of righteousness”, description is unusual because they are for God’s benefit. These paths are not necessarily where we want to go! However, righteousnes is important to God and best for us.

My sister is a type of good shepherd with Australian animals. On her property she is takes care of baby kangaroos, koalas and other native animals that have been found injured, usually on the roads. They are brought to her to look after. She provides for them and nurtures them back to life. Often on an evening they will come back to visit her out of the wild to say thank you for saving their lives.

The second thing the Good Shepherd does for the sheep is that he ….

2. Protects them from evil. verse 4 v4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

We all face many dangers through life. There are valleys of different degrees of darkness but there is no fear in the darkest valleys when you realise God is with you. The Good Shepherd has a rod and a staff. The rod is a weapon to wack and scare off wild animals. The staff has a hook at the end to pull back sheep when they wonder in a wrong direction.

The third thing the Good Shepherd does for the sheep is that he …

3. Promotes them to a higher place. verses 5-6 v5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. v6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The image changes here from the outback to a palace. The Shepherd, now King, prepares a great banquet. Our envisioning lunch with delicious Indonesian cuisine will be like this! David’s head is anointed with oil – another symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God washes and refreshes your soul as living water; he also empowers and authorises you with anointing oil as of kings in the past. The Holy Spirit promoting you to a higher place in service of the King.

In the New Testament, God reveals himself in Jesus. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who provides for, protects, and promotes his sheep. Provides - “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Protects“My sheep listen to my voice…they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Promotes“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

My wife, Lisa, wanted to teach our grandson the famous Little Green Frog song. She put a soft toy frog on the coffee table, sang with all her heart, and hopped the toy frog. She then passed the frog to Alfie. Alfie pushed it away. He climbed onto the table and began to hop for himself like a frog. He understood something about analogies! As he grows up, we pray he learns to be a ‘good sheep’ following the Good Shepherd, and later to become a good shepherd himself, helping and caring for others. We can all learn about God from the analogy of the Good Shepherd.

John Rhodes

20 June 2021

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