Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

2021.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 23

Read Psalm 23

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)? What shall we not do? In what does He make us to lie down (Psalm 23:2)? Beside what does the Lord lead us? What does He restore (Psalm 23:3)? In what paths does the Lord lead us? For what reason? Through what valley will we walk (Psalm 23:4)? What will we not fear? Why—who is with us? What two things of His comfort us in verse 4? What does the Lord prepare for us (Psalm 23:5)? Where? What does He do to our head? What happens to our portion of the cup of blessing? What shall goodness and steadfast love surely do (Psalm 23:6)? How many of the days of our lives will they do this? Where will we dwell/return forever? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Psalm 23, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode. This Psalm is precious to us for the portrait it gives us of what it is like to be shepherded by the LORD Jesus.

The Good Shepherd, Psalm 23:1. Jesus declared Himself the Good Shepherd, identifying Himself as Yahweh from many Old Testament passages, including this one. In Psalm 22, we had the great Psalm of Him laying down His life for the sheep. In this Psalm, we have the great Psalm of Him living to lead His sheep who know His voice and follow Him.

The word for Shepherd is actually a participle of the verb for shepherding. This gives a tone of activity and constancy to the statement. Of course, then, with Him constantly and actively shepherding us, we will not lack anything. In our union with Jesus and communion (fellowship) with Jesus, it is impossible that we would lack anything—anything material or spiritual, anything good.

When we need rest, Psalm 23:2. The word for green pastures implies the youngest, best, tender grass. This is where He gives us rest. The waters themselves in the second part are waters of quietness. Whenever we have rest, we ought to see in it the tenderness and compassion of our Lord Jesus.

When we need restoration, Psalm 23:3. The first line of this stanza can refer to conversion, but how many are the wanderings and spiritual declensions that a believer may pass through in this life. Our Shepherd will always restore us. His path is righteous, and it leads us to righteousness, and He leads us in righteousness. Since this is initiated within God Himself (“For His Name’s sake”), nothing in time or creation can undo it. 

When we need reinforcement, Psalm 23:4. Because life is fraught with the threat of death, and we often come near it, its shadow falls often upon our path and climactically at the end of that path. But in every one of those instances, we must not fear either any harm or any wicked foe. The most important variable in each situation actually isn’t at all variable: The Lord Jesus is with us.

The rod is for defense and direction; the staff has a crook on the end and is useful for support and even yanking out of danger in a pinch. Our Shepherd has complete sway over every enemy and every danger; He directs/corrects us as necessary, and lifts and rescues us as needed.

When we need refreshment, Psalm 23:5. The preparation of the table indicates not a meager portion but a feast. How helpless is that enemy who must watch both the preparations and the feasting itself, and can do nothing to stop it! The rest of the verse highlights the welcome (You anoint my head with oil) and the portion (my cup runs over) that we may expect at His table. There is no stinginess or shortness of supply here. Only abundance that no enemy can stop.

Relentlessly, Psalm 23:6. Several terms in this verse underscore the relentlessness of the Lord’s blessing us. “Surely” emphasizes certainty and has a tone of exclusivity (“only”). “Follow” means to hunt, chase down, and persecute. Good and steadfast love are ever hot on our heels, wherever we go. “All the days” and “for length of days” (“forever”) are self-explanatory. Good and steadfast love are aspects of God’s character. They cannot fail anymore than He can stop being God. The path of the believer has in it many twists and turns, through many locations. But He is with us in all of it; His goodness and covenant-love are always right on top of us; and, it always ends at last in His house.

Do you know Jesus to be the LORD and your Shepherd? In what sort of season of life are you? How is Jesus with you in it? What is He doing? What does He expect you to be doing?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH475 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”


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