Tuesday, September 07, 2021

2021.09.07 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, and Song of Adoration all come from Psalm 23, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Yahweh is the believer’s Shepherd, the good Shepherd. Because there is so much in this Psalm that our Good Shepherd does for us, we can confidently declare that, with Him as our Shepherd, it is impossible for us to lack anything needful. In Him, we have abundant rest (Psalm 23:2), abundant restoration (Psalm 23:3), abundant reinforcement (Psalm 23:4, even in the face of death), and abundant refreshment (Psalm 23:5, even in the face of enemies).

Psalm 23:6 lets us in on the energizing forth of all of this provision: Yahweh’s goodness and steadfast love “follow” the believer all the days of his life. The word for “follow” is actually a word that means to hunt down, or even persecute. God’s goodness and God’s covenanted-love relentlessly pursue the believer every moment of every day, his whole life long.

When the Messiah comes in the fullness of time, we find out why this must be true as a theological certainty: Yahweh Himself is the Christ. Psalm 23 has told us that Yahweh is the believer’s Shepherd, and Ezekiel 34 clearly distinguishes between all human shepherds and Yahweh Himself as the Good Shepherd. So, it is rather stunning to have a Man in John 10 declare Himself to be the Good Shepherd. But we quickly find out why it was necessary that Yahweh become a man: the Good Shepherd must lay down His life for His sheep (cf. John 10:11, John 10:16).

Jesus gives God a literal human face. It is in the wake of referring to Himself as the Good Shepherd and to His people as His sheep that Jesus answers a question about whether He is Messiah with some pretty clear statements that He is every bit as much God as the Father is (cf. John 10:28–30). When the Jews try to execute Him for this, Jesus’s answer is that not only is the kind of language of Sonship to God permissible (cf. John 10:34–36), but that His deity and the Father’s are reciprocally equal (cf. John 10:37–38). So, it’s not surprising when later in that book, Jesus uses the same language to tell Phillip that He is so completely Yahweh Himself that if you have seen Jesus, there is nothing more of God to be seen (cf. John 14:8–11). So, Jesus gives God a literal human face.

This is why the Name of Jesus is so precious to us. All of the provision of Yahweh as our Shepherd from Psalm 23 we know to be the personal provision of Jesus Himself. Goodness and covenant-love relentlessly pursue us, entirely by grace unto us. But it is a grace that came at the cost of this Shepherd laying down His life for us sheep. Jesus has atoned for our sin. Jesus is the worthiness of our blessing. Jesus is God, Who has committed Himself to us. And in Jesus, we know that God is as committed to our good as He is to being good!

Jesus’s Name, literally “Yahweh, saving,” brings all of this precious truth immediately to mind. When wounded, or fearful, or troubled, or hungry, or weary, or in danger, or in need of supply, or seeking purpose, how sweet then the Name of Jesus sounds! He is everything to us as our Creator and Redeemer, and it is our life’s work—our eternity’s work!—to praise and proclaim His Name and His love.

In what circumstances or ways do you most feel your need of the Lord as your Shepherd right now? How can you be certain that He is abundantly supplying that need? How does the Name “Jesus” communicate that to you? How sweet is it to you?

Sample prayer: Our Lord and our God, we adore You as our Creator and Redeemer. How marvelous it is that You have laid down Your life for us, Your sheep! Forgive us for our wicked forgetfulness of You that causes us so much anxiety, and grant that Your Spirit would minister the sweetness of Your Name unto us that we might rest upon You as our Shepherd, in Whom we see the Father, and in Whose  Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH492 “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds”

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