Sermon – The LORD is My Shepherd (Psalms 23:1 – 23:6) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 48 of 70

The LORD is My Shepherd

Pete Woodcock, Psalms 23:1 - 23:6, 21 January 2018

A tribute to David Redington, reflecting on the Shepherd that he knew and loved.

Psalms 23:1 - 23:6

23:1   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
  He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
  He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.
  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
  for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
  You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
  you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
  and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his namesake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.

Surely, your goodness and love will follow me all the days of life, and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever. Now we believe that the Bible is the very breath of god, the word of god, the word of the Holy Spirit. And, God, the Holy Spirit guided King David to write this Psalm He chose David to be a writer of of his very word. And so as you read David Psalms, and he wrote a lot of them, you'll see that David portrays god in in all kinds of picture language, earthly language. But those pictures are accurate.

They're not just David going off on some wild imagination. And making making it up. This is the very word of god written through David and of course written through his experiences. That's what the Bible is. It's the Holy Spirit breath of God where he comes and takes a human like King David and uses his portrayal of, of god to be the very word of god to us.

So we can we know that when we read something like Psalm 20 23, that, this isn't him, David, just making stuff up. But actually, this is the word of god. God is a shepherd He is a shepherd. And this is just absolutely 1 of the most sublime things. It it is captivating.

That little that little phrase, the lord is my shepherd. And it really pictures the real god of the Bible. If you go through the Bible, we're told gain, and again that god is our shepherd. It's a wonderful picture. And I guess the best portrayal, it's certainly in the old testament is this poem that David wrote saying the lord is my shepherd.

The lord Yahway is my shepherd. Now, why have we interrupted a a series in Romans? Because this was the last passage that Dave Redington, this isn't his funeral, by the way, but, we we felt we just couldn't just miss this This was the last scripture I read to David and prayed with him over. And so, it's important to look at this and us as us as a church to understand and to celebrate, what what's actually happened. Now, The trouble is we've got Dave Redington, and we've got David who wrote this.

So I might get muddled up. I'm trying hard So King David, I'll try and say. King David, he knew what he was talking about as he's moved by the Holy Spirit because in his early life, He was a shepherd. He was a shepherd boy. And so he experienced what it was to be a shepherd.

And so when he portrays god as a big shepherd, as a great shepherd, He he he understands that actually god is the shepherd really and he was just the shadow of what a real shepherd is. Now the trouble is with us townies and those of us that live in cities and don't really know anything about the countryside other than when we go on holiday. Is that we think that shepherds, well, we have a rather romantic view of what a shepherd is because we see those old paintings We tend to think of a shepherd that is sitting under, you know, the shade of a beautiful leafy oak tree on a on a sort of lovely, grass mound smoking his pipe, with a with a little cap on that he's pulled down over his eyes so he can doze in the warmth of the summer. And the lovely sheep are just sort of chewing away, safe around near the little brook and every now and then he might lift up his cap and puff on his pipe to make sure the sheep aren't up to anything, no good. And that's just just nonsense.

That's just our towny version of what a shepherd is. A shepherd has to work hard. From dawn to dust particularly in in ancient Israel. It's a it's a 24 7 job It's 1 of the reasons why shepherds are despised by the religious establishment, even in Israel, which is I've always sort of found strange 1 of the reasons they were despised is because the shepherds were doing their job 24 7, and therefore they couldn't go on the Sabbath day to the synagogue. Or they missed out on many of the temple worship activities.

So they were seen as unclean. They had to pick up dead sheep and move sheep around. So they are often seen as unclean and despised. A shepherd's job is not sitting under a tree smoking a pipe. It's hard work, it's tough, it's muscular.

The sheep need a manager, and that's what a shepherd was. The sheep need a thinker to think for them. And that's what the shepherd was. The sheep need a protector from the wild beasts and animals and the cold. And from eating the wrong thing, and that's what the shepherd was.

The sheep need a vet to sort out the various diseases and problems that come into the sheep. And that's what the shepherd is. The shepherd is all about the sheep's well-being. The whole well-being of the sheep is down to the shepherd. So he can't be casually napping, smoking on his pipe because the sheep were so utterly valuable He had to be alert on them.

Now if that's true David is saying, If that's true of a human shepherd, and I know I was 1, then how much more is that true of the divine shepherd? To his people, his sheep under his care. So here's King David, and he's composing 1 of the most magnificent poems ever written is his extraordinary, this poem. I don't think I've ever come across a better thing. And certainly, whenever you go to see anyone in hospital, Hori's dying, there is no better piece of literature.

It is extraordinary. The lord is my shepherd. And David composes this beautiful beautiful poem. If you trust in anyone else, other than the lord. Now, here's a Dave Redington joke.

It's appalling like all his jokes were. If you trust in anyone else or anything else, you're going to be fleeced. Yeah. So let's have a look at this. First, the lord is our shepherd, and he supplies.

He supplies everything we need. Look at verses 1 and 2. The lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters He refreshes my soul. The lord is my shepherd. Notice it's in capital letters, l o r d, capital. That is the divine name for god.

Yahweh would be better to put in there. Lord is just a title, isn't it? Yahway is the name. I'm a pastor of a church as a title. Pete is my name.

So when you read the word lord, you really gotta say, hold it. This is a personal, intimate name. This is Yahweh. And when you find out what Yahweh means in the Bible because he tells us in, Exodus chapter 3, it is I am who I am. I will be who I will be.

It is summing up his entire character God stands for what he is. He is who he is. He's god. He's Yahweh. He's the powerful 1.

He's my shepherd. Do you know, see how personal that is? Yah! God, is my shepherd, none other than the covenant making god because that word yahweh, that name comes from when he makes a covenant, a marriage, a commitment, to his people, to his sheep, I am their god. They are my people.

Yay. It's the covenant name for god. Is my shepherd. The 1 who makes promises, the 1 who makes vows, the 1 who signs the register book, the 1 who is my lord and savior and husband and defender and protector and vet and doctor and provider and carer who doesn't go to sleep under a tree smoking a pipe, who is there looking after me, loving me, He's my god. And this shepherd will care for the sheep right down to the smallest detail absolutely smallest detail.

They will be led to places where they can be fed. Did you notice that? There'll be led to places where there isn't any poisonous weeds in the pasture that the sheep will just chew on and then die over. They're gonna be led to fertile green, lush pastures. This is a shepherd intimately involved in providing all that his sheep needs, knowing what they need, alert to what they need.

No day off for him, no sitting smoking a pipe for him, looking, caring. Do you wonder what 20 18 has in store for you? I guess it was only a few weeks ago, we turned 2000. I mean, did any of you ever think? Of the year 20 18.

Who ever thought of 20 18? Did you think Phil when you were 7? 0, I wonder what 20 18 is going to be like. You didn't, did you? When you were 7?

Too busy saying, where's the sweets? And the the immediate things, whoever thought of 2018? But do you know what it's gonna bring? Do you know what it's gonna bring? Well, you don't.

I talked to Dave Redington a lot about 2018 funny enough. And a lot about what it would bring and what it would bring for him. And none of us really knew. None of us knew. None of us knew how long to in 20 18, Dave would go in this world.

None of us knew that. But says King David. The lord knows. The lord is guiding. The lord knows the future as if it's the present, because he's the 1 who intimately knows.

He knows you, He knows your heartbeat. It was interesting on Friday. I was looking at right inside Dave's heart. This woman came in and put this sound thing, and we were looking. I said, what is that we're looking at?

I said, well, that's his heart. I said, oh, I didn't realize that. She looked at me as if I was so thick. I said, what's that little thing? That's the chamber?

What's that dangly thing? That's the, whatever, you know, the, whatever it is. And then she put it in color, every beat of the heart. The lord, the shepherd knows knows. The future is act actually the present for him, and the lord knows exactly pasture that each sheep needs.

He leads them to the green pastures to feed them to care for them. Now how does the lord feed us today? Well, by his word, we're gonna see that again, in in a reading in John 10 in a minute, but he feeds his people by his very word, their green pastures, the very word of god, are the things that give everything that any sheep needs the very word of god. Beautiful, fresh pasture. This isn't some old, dead, dry religious book.

It's the fresh pastures. It's the brooks. It's the water of life. It's the very word of god. Everything you need, the father, the shepherd, provides, and leads us into these It was very, very interesting.

I'm sorry. I'm not trying to make this a funeral service reason. I may say 1 of these things another time perhaps, but but David was a man of his word. I mean, on sleep. He quoted us.

He gave me an illustration. I said, that's good. That's a really good illustration. He said, that's from your sermon. Yeah.

I said, oh, yeah, that is. Yes. I remember thinking that. And, he he was asking on Friday, why isn't Roman's 9 up on the on the website. Why isn't it on Friday?

He was asking for Romans 9. He was a man of the word of god. He fed on the pastures. He knew that the lord led him to good things and good things. Were in the word of the pasture, the word of god.

Cheap fall. They're constantly falling. They're constantly stumbling. They get into places where they can't get out of. But this good shepherd is what ful, mindful, and he restores, it says.

He restores their soul. He restores them. He brings them back onto their feet. Sheep go astray. They're known for that.

Sheep are the most stupid things that are always going to astray. But he guides them. He guides their feet in places of ripeness, in righteousness, in the right path. Did you see that? Everything the sheep needs the pasture, the water, the rescue, the guidance into the right path, The shepherd is there.

The shepherd is there because the shepherd has gone ahead of the sheep. That's how he leads them. He goes ahead of the sheep, and that is the good shepherd Jesus. It's a wonderful thing There is someone the good shepherd that has gone through death. To open up a pasture's new.

There's only 1 in the whole universe that's ever done that. The lord Jesus, who has gone through. He's called a pioneer, like he pioneers the way through death, opens the door. The good shepherd goes through the gate and opens the door to the pasture to pastures new, where there is everything in all eternity for every 1 of his sheep. Jesus life is the righteous life.

Jesus death was the righteous death. Jesus resurrection was for our justification. He's the good shepherd, isn't he? But notice this. It's for his name's sake.

Did you notice that? The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths. For his namesake. Now what does that mean? I mean, there could be many reasons why god rescues and saves and is a shepherd, many reasons because he loves us. That's absolutely a reason that's in the Bible, because he wants the best for us.

Absolutely right. He does. But the reason, the ultimate reason that's given gives us massive assurance. It's not just that he loves us because we get into all kinds of things here, but am I lovable? You know?

It's for his namesake. It's a stronger reason. And god is love. So those 2 things go together. But if you can get, it's for his namesake.

He will not allow his name to be dishonored. He will not be 1 thing in name and another thing in nature. He is yahweh. He is Lord. He is shepherd for his namesake.

No 1 will be able to point us. See, He's not a person of integrity. See? He has no no. No.

No. God is the god that does stuff for his namesake, but covenant promise keeping god. For his namesake, That's why when we pray in the name of Jesus, in the name of Father, Father God, our father we're meant to pray. For his name's sake, there is no way he will let his sheep go. He guides, he establishes.

But have a look at that. Not only not only is this this, shepherd, the 1 who supplies all of our needs for his namesake. He's the 1 who provides, security, safety for his namesake. Look at verse 4. Even though I walk through the darkest valley or the old version is way better.

Why they've changed this? I don't know. The valley of the shadow of death. Even though I I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me and your rod and staff, they comfort me.

Now, again, we can get the wrong idea about valleys in, in the Middle East, in in Israel, a valley was a very dangerous place. It's where the where where wolves could be, where robbers were, where enemies were lurking around, It was a dark and dangerous place to be. So this is saying that even those dark valleys, even those values that threaten me, even those places that are venues of of danger, even the deepest darkest valley of them all. Death. Death itself.

Even in that valley, you you don't have to fear any evil. You don't have to fear evil. There's danger there lurking around. Absolutely, but you don't have to fear evil. At this point, The shepherd is seen to be so different from everybody else.

All of us have to say goodbye, at the point of death. All the family gathered around a bed, seeing their loved 1, have to say farewell. Fair well. See you. Bye my love, but the shepherd The shepherd goes.

He doesn't leave. He doesn't say farewell. He doesn't say make it on your own. I told you the way. Here's the instructions.

Here's the map. Got satnav? Shepard says, hey, this is this is where I'm ideally suited as shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the living 1.

I am the 1 that's gone through death. I am the pioneer that's cut through that. I am the lord, your shepherd. I am Yahweh. I am the father.

I am your savior. Everybody else has to say goodbye. Everybody else. And that's why it hurts us. That's why we're sad in some ways.

We're sad to say goodbye. But it's at that point, the good shepherd says, I'm leading you. I'm leading you. That's a wonderful thing, isn't it? And this is why it's a joy to talk like this.

We can say we we leave it in the lord's hands. We sang that in 1 of the songs. But not only is this wonderful lord, the 1 who supplies everything we need And not only is he the 1 where we find off our our security, but he's the 1 that we find our full satisfaction. Look at verse 5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil my cup overflows. There's this wonderful table prepared in the presence of the enemies. You anoint my head with oil. Now, I don't think King David. I know some people think that King David stopped his picture of, of sheep and and shepherds.

I I actually don't think he has. I think he's still pushing pushing that picture because a shepherd is someone who does have to prepare the way for the sheep. They often go into the into the pastures to make sure there aren't any weeds there and enemies and beasts and and wild animals that are gonna harass and kill the sheep. And even the anointing with oil, a shepherd has to anoint a sheep's head. Because they would often use, olive oil and some kind of, herbs as a as a medicine to put her over the the sheep's head and other parts of the sheep as well because that's where the flies come up the nose, up the nostrils, and lay their eggs, and and then the maggots come and in their eyes and behind their ears and and so there's anointing.

In other words, here is here is a a shepherd that actually provides everything and full satisfaction so that you're not irritated by that which is evil and you can rejoice in the food that set before you. And of course when the body dies, of course the body is gone. And it it's it's dying, and it decays. But nevertheless, the lord will satisfy us with a feast and eventually a brand new resurrection body. That's what's awaiting for his sheep.

He protects He cares, he oils. But of course in David's case, he was anointed to be a king in god's kingdom, 1 of those great privileges, to be in the kingdom of the living god, serving god as an under king. What a generous thing that will satisfy the very soul, all our longings, that we are in the house of the lord treated like a king, eating The enemies have gone. We've won because King Jesus has won for us. And so that anointing there is talking about that, but the ultimate satisfaction.

You see, is to come when god leads us into those palaces. Look at verse 6. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days. It's like they're hounding the sheep. They're following the sheep.

They're they're hovering over the sheep And then when the door is open and the shepherd leads us to the new pastures, I will dwell in the house of yahweh, but covenant God forever and ever and ever. That is the hope. It's wonderful. Isn't this sound amazing? I can tell you I've done no justice to this Psalm.

These are my thoughts from this morning. It was the only time I had to prepare this, and so So there is so much here. Read it. Pray it. Love it.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all my days. And I will dwell in the house of the lord. In John's gospel, which I read a little bit at at the, at the beginning, and and, Tom is going to, read a bit more of us for us in in just a minute in preparation for the communion service. But, we read that Jesus is the good shepherd. If you are a follower of the lord Jesus Christ, He is utterly, completely committed, determined to get you to the place of total satisfaction.

He's done everything. He's the good shepherdess laid down his life for you. He's risen the gate, he's opened the door, he's opened the gate for you to go through. And there are pastures things that we just dream dreamt of in this world, our hopes, our desires, seen in our great shepherd himself. Why would you go it alone?

This morning. Why would you not have a shepherd like that? If it was you yesterday, in a hospital bed with tubes up your nose coming out from your stomach and wires all over your body. Nurses and doctors coming in and out. Would you be able to say the lord is my shepherd is my shepherd.

If you don't know if you are going to heaven, get it sorted. They're the words of Dave. If you don't know you're going to heaven get it sorted, you gotta remember, they're the words of a man that was physically going through it. Hard to get his mind together. What do you want to say to the morning congregation?

Hold it, Pete. Just give me a bit of moment. It wasn't a long moment. If you don't know you're going to heaven, get it sorted. Come to the lord Jesus Christ, won't you?

Tom will show us that these very, very simple em emblems are a picture of the blood and body of the lord Jesus Christ who invites us to eat, in other words, come to him. That you may know him as your shepherd.

Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

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