Sermon – How the Good Shepherd Loves His Weak Sheep (Psalms 23:1 – 23:6) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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How the Good Shepherd Loves His Weak Sheep

Shane Goodyear, Psalms 23:1 - 23:6, 7 January 2024

Today is co-mission Sunday and our guest preacher is Shane Goodyear from Hope Church Vauxhall and the London City Mission. Shane brings us God's word from Psalm 23:1-6. In this famous Psalm, King David paints a striking picture of his total dependence on the Lord for all he needs. How can we build our intimacy with the Lord and experience his goodness in our lives, knowing him as our shepherd?

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.

If you'd like to have a seat, and if you've, if you bought your own Bible with you, then please do turn Psalm 23. Turn to Psalm 23 and if not, you can you can follow it along on the screen. It's fantastic Psalm. Psalm 23.

A Psalm of David. The lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures and he leads me beside quiet waters and 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 my life. And I will dwell in the house of the lord forever. This is god's word to us this morning and shame is gonna come and preach it to us now. So brothers and sisters.

A few months ago, I was listening to a podcast called duress is football. You must forgive me. I can't say my arse. I've got a speech impediment. So forgive me for that.

So West West West is football. And on this podcast, were 3 elite strikers of their day. Now a striker is someone who scores goals for the football team. Now these 3 elite strikers were Gary Lindicker, Thierry on brie and Alan Shearer. And the conversation they had fascinated me.

Don't worry. This is not about football. It's not. Well it is, but let's not. The conversation they had was about I've got to make sure I don't fall off the side of this, isn't it?

Was about the relationship they had with their fathers growing up. And each and every 1 of them knew that their fathers loved them. Why? Because they saw their father sacrifice for them. They saw their fathers driving them to and from training to school.

After work, and many of their fathers would have been historic working class laborers. They saw their fathers going out with them every weekend morning to teach him how to kick a ball, pass, to teach him how to move properly. Garilynica even testified that his dad sold his family house so they could move closer to a football team that would have helped the young Gary Linaka become the striker he became. And for you younger lot, he actually was a good striker back in the day. He wrote just on Twitter saying stuff.

He was a good striker. He's called a Hatric in the World Cup in 86. But there's a nuance to this discussion they were having. And the nuance is this that all of them, Terry and Lee, Alan Shearer, Gary Linaka, were very saddened because even though they knew their fathers loved them, they felt they didn't have any intimacy with their fathers growing up. Outside of football.

So they it was a really sad thing to hear these 3 50 to 60 year old men who are adored by thousands upon thousands of people lament their lack of intimacy they had with their fathers in childhood. I mentioned that because I'm gonna be bold and brave here and if you're anything like me, That might describe our relationship with God. Many of you in this room today including me no God is sacrificed for you. He sent his son to die on a cross and rise again. You know that.

And you know somewhere along the line he loves you. But if you're honest with yourself, you lack a connection and an intimacy with God that you may see other Christians have and you don't know Why? Believe it or not, I think Psalm 23 is gonna help us with this. So let's turn there now, Psalm 23 And what I'm gonna do is walk through the text with you guys and then get you to shout out some words in the text The reason why I do that, because again, if you're anything like me, you really want to focus on a sermon and that you're 10, 15 minutes in, and then you think, oh, no, I'm gonna do the washing at home. And then you think we'll ask whoever wins the title.

And then you think to yourself, now hang on. I've got to get the kids ready doing this, that, and the other. Oh, I've gotta I forgot to put the turkey in or chicken in. And then your mind drifts. So we're all gonna be in the tech walking through it like a journey, and I'm going to ask you certain words that you'll see in the text.

And I might ask some questions as well, so I'll be listening But but just before we get into the text, sorry, I tricked you. A Psalm is a song and it is written by a geyser called David. Now David was a king of Israel, a mighty king of Israel over god's people In scripture, he's a very complex person. He is called a man after god's own heart. And in the book of kings, his descendants are measured against him.

So he'd be like, oh, this guy didn't walk in the footsteps of David, and he was evil and an abomination in the sight of the lord. So he was like a height of devotion to other kings. If they walked in the steps of David, they were good kings. However, in 1 chronicles 22, God destroys David as a man of blood. And so he could have built the temple in it.

He was a man of blood who had happily well, I say happily, who murdered his friend because he tried to cover up getting his missus pregnant. A man of blood who was a warrior king and knew what it was to take a life. Think of the hardest person you know or seen David would eat him for breakfast. David was a complex person, a man after god's own heart, and a man of blood, And what he saw at times he wanted, he would take, but he was also a repentant man. And it is this man that wrote this song.

There's apart from Jesus, There's never really straightforward characters in the bible. Oh, Jesus is not straightforward either, but you get what I mean. I hope you do anyway. So Psalm 23 verse 1, the lord is my what? Shepard, I lack Nothing.

Now David knew what it was to be a shepherd as well. Adding on to this complex character, He grew up as a shepherd boy, the last of the sons of Jesse, and Shepard and ancient Israel had a bit of a rough time of it. Because ancient Israel, as it says in the Bible was a land flowing with milk and honey, but that land was basically taken up by agricultural farming. And so the shepherds would have to go searching throughout the days and the evenings looking for food and substitutes for their sheep. And this is what David most probably would have had to have done.

Also, we see in the scriptures is that David wrestled lions and bears fighting off predators who wanted to kill the sheep. And David would have grown up looking after these sheep, providing for them and defending them, and it would have built an intimacy with them. Some of you who have pets might have built an intimacy with your dog or your cat or something. It might have been a bit like that, but on a stronger level. And now here's a question for you.

Hopefully, that you're still awake. If David sees the lord yahweh as his shepherd, who does he see himself as? A sheep? See, it's not a trick question. Now, this mighty king of Israel, This man who knows what it is to take a life, this man who has wealth and abundance sees himself as a weak and vulnerable sheep Now, just a quick detour.

If you're Christian here today, that's someone who believes that Jesus died for their sin and rose again, and you believe Jesus is fully god, fully man, and you trust in him for salvation, that means you're united to Christ you're in his team. He's your captain. And in second second Corinthians, chapters 1 or 2, It says, every promise is yes and amen in him. So not only do we sing this Psalm to Christ we sing it with him. So brothers and sisters, every promise in this psalm, we can sing with Christ.

But here's the first thing I wanna bring out. Brothers and sisters, do you see yourself as a weak and valuable sheep here today? Who sees everything you have come from god, or are you self sufficient? Western because we'd like to be self sufficient in the west. Distent and cynical because brothers and sisters going into this new year of 2024, 1 of the ways we build intimacy with God is by seeing ourselves as weak and vulnerable sheep and not as self sufficient people.

Let's carry on because now David, what he's gonna do, right? Is open up how he lacks nothing. So you see, the lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing, and now he's gonna open that up in the So follow along in the text with me. The lord is my shepherd.

I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in where? He leads me besides where? He refreshes my soul He guides me along the for whose namesake not his own. Notice the intimacy in the song.

It's not us and we It's he and me. There's a deep intimacy that David is having with his shepherd And why? Because he sees everything coming from his hand. The green pastures here represent food and abundance, not just spiritually practically. By the way, because I know a lot of there's some bible commentators who try it's just spiritual.

No. It's it's practical. And he's so secure in god's provision. He lies down in it. He's a sheep.

Remember, Sheep lie down are very, very vulnerable to attack. Also notice that David is being led by his shepherd the lord yahweh to steal quiet waters, not running waters, running waters will drown the sheep if they fall in. It's still, it's quiet. It's peaceful. It refreshes his soul.

This mighty king of Israel who has to make judicial decisions, who has to go to war who has to use wisdom and managing as people makes these decisions and goes down the right path for his namesake. Everything David sees himself as a weak and vulnerable sheep completely rely on physical spiritual blessings and even making decisions completely relying. On the lord as his shepherd. You know, there's a book that I try to read every year called praying life by Paul Miller. I don't know if any of you have ever read it.

Excellent book. I try to read it every year. And in that book, Paul Miller talks about 2 types of Christians, a cynical Christian, prayers at work. So he's talking about Christians, not not long as Christians, and a thankful question And what it was in the book, he talks about how 1 of the ways you cultivate an intimate and deep prayer life with God is by thanking god for literally everything you have and have been given in your life. Surely brothers and sisters the lord has led you to green pastures.

How you live in a country where the shops for the food. What? You think that's random. You live in a country that has an international grid system that pumps electricity in your house and you put this button on and it puts the TV on, you put this button on dishwasher, put this button on washing machine. Surely, the lord has given you peace, spiritually, did you know in the Bible?

It says, God the father, had continual thoughts of kindness towards you and chose you before he even created the world in Christ Jesus. Surely he is giving you peace. You know brothers and sisters on a few months ago, I won't make this political, but I'm gonna say something that is political, but I've not going on the side. I was asked to speak about what happened in Israel at church because we have a very mixed congregation with people coming to have different backgrounds and let's say people have different opinions on it. I was asking, I don't know why they asked me to do this stuff.

Do you know? I mean, I'm not here. Thanks. Yeah. You need to pay me more or something.

Do you know what I mean? And so I was asked to speak about it. And as I was speaking to the lord about it, and I was meditating on god's word, A thought came to me was this. I just don't fear armed men running into my house and kidnapping my family. I don't fear that in this country, I just don't fear a revenge in army slaughtering my neighborhood I just don't fear that in this country.

Now I could have 2 responses, guilt. Oh, why is it like this for me? Or pray for them and thank god that he has given me a privilege of living in a country that was built by Christians over thousands of years that we're at peace brothers and sisters, when was the last time we cultivated a thankful heart for all the blessings, spiritual and physical we have. You know, 1 of the ways you build a deep and intimate relationship with God is by seeing yourself as a weak and vulnerable sheep. And how a week and valuable sheep responds is with thankfulness and praise to his shepherd who gives him everything.

Brothers and sisters, what heart heart are you cultivating today? 1 of distance and cynicism, or 1 of thankfulness out of weakness to your lord and shepherd, the good shepherd Jesus Christ, who gives you everything good in your life. Verse 4, Even though I walk through the There you go. We're all learning. Sorry.

I didn't I didn't I didn't say the 2 words before. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, what won't he fear? Evil, I will fear no evil for you are with me your words and your staff they comfort me. Now David is seeing himself as a weak and vulnerable sheep who's going through a dark valley in ancient Israel. Now, I'm a bit of a city boy born and raised in London, and I don't usually go to the countryside apart from when my summer days.

But sometimes I have gone to the countryside on my summer holidays, and I've done a midnight walk, and it's dark. Especially when it's cloudy overneath, you can't see anything. You're bumping this this and falling over, and it's like really dark. There's no street lamps around, and it's just proper dark and you're like, this is really scary. And I'm bumping into stuff.

And it's like, ah. Now, sorry to spell this out, brothers and sisters, but this is David's experience as sheep walking down the dark valley in ancient Israel because of course they had no modern street lighting, but because our minds are just so filled with that, we might forget that. Also in ancient Israel, dark valleys were known as dangerous places. They're quite dangerous now as well, I suppose. Because robbers and thieves and murderers would hang out in these dark valleys waiting for travelers to kingdom, to Robum, to take their life.

And David, not this warrior king, he sees himself as but reconvulnerable sheep is being led down this dark valley and evil is not going to overwhelm him. He's not going to fear it. Why? Because god is comforting him and protecting him and not allowing that evil to overwhelm him. You know brothers and sisters, I'm about to say something deep now.

So prepare yourself. It might trigger. There's a family on the estate where I live a minister who we've been ministering to for years now LCM missionaries before me, hope church after me and us as them as and me as well been ministering to them for years. Not Christians who have recently lost an 8 year old daughter just before Christmas, cancer. For some reason, as a pastor, people think they need to tell you every detail, which is fine, but you don't.

And this family grandmars, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, niece, nephews, because they're a big family on an estate. You get those on the estate still. Not Christians. How they dealt with this? Light in the lantern going up.

Oh, when she's over the rainbow. This family is at each other's throats because the dad is like my daughter's gone. And the expert family likes she's over the rainbow. Evil is overwhelmed with them in this evil situation. Now brothers and sisters, dark valley here is a metaphor for dark troublesome and difficult times.

Brothers and sisters, many of you might be going through dark valleys now. Dark valleys of relational breakdown Dark valleys of divorce. Dark valleys of financial hardship, dark valleys of mental health and ill health. But do you know as a weak and vulnerable sheep, God is with you in that and you will not be overwhelmed by evil. In 1 sense, all human beings are weak Whether Christian or not.

And if you're not a Christian here today, you're a week too. But as sure as many older brothers and sisters here will test to justify who've been through suffering in their lives is that stair shepherd, the lord was with them, comforting them walking through the Stock Valley with them. Brothers and sisters I don't know what 2024 will bring for you. I'm not a prophet or a son of a prophet. I can't tell the future.

Even if you go through the most painful thing imaginable that you could think about, evil will not overwhelm you because god your his sh- the shepherd, your shepherd, your father is leading you through that dark valley. And evil will not overwhelm you in this life or in the life to come. Let's carry on. Verse 5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil. My cup it overflows. Surely, your goodness and love that can mean mercy as well. Will follow me all the days of my life and I would dwell In the house of the lord, forever, amen. Now, David is changing up the metaphor a bit.

He still sees himself as a weak and vulnerable sheep but now and still sees the lord as a shepherd. But now he's changed Harry seeing the lord as a victorious king that is holding a banquet. You know, back in the day right in the ancient world, so that was proper back in the day. Ancient kings would go and defeat and box up another ancient king, take all his family, all his entourage, all his nobility see, lock him up and then feast in front of him just to show his glory that he had defeated them. And it's the picture that David has given here.

It's that it's the lord who is the host of the party of the banquet. And it is the lord though, who is not celebrating himself, but is celebrating David. It is David, that is the special guest. It is David who's been anointed and refreshed with oil. It is David who is getting continuous cups of drink and food and being celebrated.

It is David whose enemies a watching him snarling and gnarling at him as the lord celebrates him. You know brothers and sisters, there's a text in, Romans, very popular book That has been lots of ink over the centuries has been written on it. But 1 of my favorite texts in Romans is not the first 15 chapters, believe it or It was luther's but not mine. Maybe spurgeon's as well. 1 of my favourite texts in the book of Romans written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome is Roman 16.

And in it, Paul was saying goodbye, and it's not my favorite because he's saying goodbye, but It's 1 of my favorites because he says this. It's that the god of peace will crush Satan, under your feet's church, interesting, I spent 10 years thinking about this first, you know. Sometimes I do that. I'm a bit weird. This is what I do at night.

Think about stuff like this. Why don't I just go down the pub or something? Do you know what I mean? And what Paul was saying in this is that god has the victory, he said that in whole romans. God has defeated the devil and the world and the flesh and brought his people out of that.

And it's like god has got satan by the throat. He's holding him and he's going lift up your feet, church, bang, smash. In a similar way, this is what's going on here. God is celebrating David, even though it's god who has the victory, and it's he is the host. Brothers and sisters, Did you know, in 1 sense, we join in the victory with the lord.

He has run it for us, defeated sin, satan, and flesh, but by his grace, he allows us to join in the victory and celebrates us and the devil and the world and the flesh are snarling and nalin at us, but they can't do anything. In no matter what they throw at us in the darkest valley. You know 1 day brothers and sisters, as god's goodness and mercy follows you all this day of your life, you will see him face to face 1 day. And there'll be no more children dying of cancer. There'll be no more reaping and mourning over breakdowns in relationship.

There'll be no more weeping and mourning over temptation of sin. There'll be no more weeping and mourning and despair of the world around us because 1 day we will drown this house and there'll be a new heavens and a new earth and he will be our god and we will be his people. You know 2024 is here, it's come. It's a new year. What do you want from this year?

You've got 2 choices. Well, you got more than that, but in the context of this, you've got 2 choices See yourself as a weak and vulnerable sheep where this world is scary. It is rough. Things may happen to you that it's hard. But the lord is with you.

Guiding you through that, and he will lead you home. And Jesus will say to you, well done. Good and faithful servant. Come. Was it in that powerball?

Have 10 cities. I've always fancied London as 1 of mine, but I don't know if that would be it. Maybe you guys will get London. I'll probably get somewhere else. Or this year, Are you going to be self sufficient and in that create a heart of cynicism and distance from god?

You know, if you're not a Christian here today, You can't say some of the blessings in this, but you've all experienced the pain of this world. And I don't know why god will allow you to experience that pain. I don't have an answer. I'm sorry. But I can tell you this is that as Christians, even in the midst of our painful times, he walks with us down those dark valleys.

And in our lives, he becomes more intimate and deeper with us, and we don't mind being weak and vulnerable sheep. Brothers and sisters, what heart are you going to cultivate today in Christ? A heart of thanksgiving? A heart of seeing yourself as a weak and vulnerable sheep, or are you gonna move away from god and bring distance in your relationship with god? Which could have consequences internally.

May I pray for us? Thank you. The lord, the lord, the gracious and compassionate god, slow to anger and abounding in loyal love. For giving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Lord, we boldly approach your throne of grace.

Not like saints of in the old testament who couldn't boldly approach the Holy of Holy or they'd be struck down because you are so holy and just but because of what Christ has done on the cross, and in the new testament and a new covenant, we have a new era everywhere we worship you in spirit and truth and can come into that holies of holies. So we will boldly approach your throne of grace now. Ask enough, lord that you'd create in us a heart like a weak and vulnerable sheep like David, your servant, saw himself. That you'd create enough to heart that sees all good things with a spiritual or physical coming from you, where you've created us a heart to pray for those who do not know you and see themselves as weak and vulnerable sheep. I really pray that this year, lord, we would become more intimate with you as a church.

We would know you more deeply. We would repent of any besetting sins through the love of your gospel and what you've done for us on the cross. And we would obey you. In your name Jesus, amen.

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