Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
In Psalm 22 we see the Lord as The Good Shepherd. For that psalm is the psalm of the cross. And the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But now in Psalm 23 he is revealed as The Great Shepherd. For this psalm concerns the care of the sheep after the shepherd’s resurrection. Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
We must first notice that the word “LORD” in verse one of Psalm 23 is in all capitals. This word is “Jehovah” – the Self-existing One. The Mighty God! The Eternal I AM! It is He who has determined to be our shepherd! For just as soon as a ‘man’ marries a woman, he become a ‘husband,’ so when one determines to identify with, and take on the care of a flock of sheep, he becomes a ‘shepherd!’ In both cases one comes into a different identity, (although still the same person), when he attains this relationship. Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Again, L-O-R-D (Jehovah) is God. And we are his sheep-people. Therefore The L-O-R-D is my shepherd.
And how long has He been identified with his people as their shepherd? He has been so from before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And we notice that in this verse, as well as in 1 Peter 1:19 (listed above), Christ, who is one with the Father, is said to be “a lamb,” and “the Lamb!” For as his people are being like sheep, so he determined to be made like unto his brethren. Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
And this is exactly how he was introduced into the world! John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
And this is how he is presented as relating and caring for his people through the eternal ages! Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Now in our Hebrews 13:20,21 verses, wherein his is set forth as that great shepherd, we read that this was set forth by the God of peace. For it is of God’s good pleasure, and of his highest glory to afford his sheep this wondrous benefit of having such a great shepherd. Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Let us consider that we have the peace of God only from the God of peace! Philippians 4:6 Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
It is our god-granted faith that causes us to be anxious about nothing. We are to relate to life and to our Lord in this peace, with thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Then that godly peace, which overrides and supersedes whatever is our lot to bear, will keep both our hearts and minds at peace. And we learn to do so by setting our affections on those heavenly effects, and not on that which our natural senses address. 2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Our Lord Jesus set us the example of looking by the eye of faith to things spiritual. He did so both at Lazarus’ grave, and when he came to the time of his cross. John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. John 17:1 ¶ These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
The true believer is one sitting in heavenly places, judging earthly things with this heavenly perspective. It is the religionist who stands on earth looking towards heaven. It is the new birth that affords us the ability to “lift up our eyes!”
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
It is the eye of faith alone which can evidence the unseen things to the natural mind. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Then in verse nine of our Philippians chapter four verse, the Apostle Paul sets forth himself also as an example of seeking things heavenly, so that we may be aware, not just of the peace of God, but more so of the God of peace!
The true believer has the benefit of three things which the reprobate denies and defiles. These are, the Son of God, the blood of the covenant, and the Spirit of grace. Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
In our Psalm 23, verse one, the psalmist relates that having the LORD as our shepherd will cause us to never lack, or want for anything. Therefore in our Hebrews 13:20 passage, having revealed that the Lord Jesus is our great shepherd, the apostle writes that He shall then make you perfect in every good work to do his will! Therefore whatever we need in the development of the kingdom both within our hearts and in the world, we shall have it granted to us.
And this has been strongly evidenced by God in that he did not withhold his beloved Son! Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
But many misguided religionists of our day, who are of the “Name it and Claim it” variety, greatly misuse and abuse the following verses. 1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
But these verses only promise to those who are seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness that all they required in order to advance Christ’s interests on earth shall be granted. They do not promise that any covetous religionist can have all the earthly possessions they may desire! Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Luke 22:35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Earthly businesses, seeking only to set forth their products for the sole purpose of monetary gain, make sure that their employees have everything needed in order to do so. They supply uniforms, transportation, training and all supplies necessary to get their product to the consumers. And shall not the Lord God of the universe supply all our needs according to his riches in glory? Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Therefore whether green pastures, cool, still waters, or the valley of death shade are necessary for the development of the individual believer, or for the advancement of the Lord’s kingdom, they shall be granted. He even raises up the human population outside the redeemed church for their good! Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee:
For all things must work together for their good! Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
For as they have been predestinated to be conformed to the very image of Christ, all things required to accomplish this have also been assured. Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
He has restored our souls by granting us repentance. And whether his rod of punishment, or staff of guidance are required, neither are lacking. Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. And the anointing of the Holy Spirit is ours also! See 1 John 2:20,27.
Pastor Gene Breed
July 12, 2018