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God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

The LORD is My Shepherd (Psalm 23:1-6 and John 10:11)

Create Introduction

  1. Your consistory agreed to set aside the 1 Peter series today and address some of our concerns these days
  2. Psalm 23 as one of the most beautiful and favorite psalms
    1. As a child, memorizing and reciting it when in the dark (“habang nasa pump,” tempted with thoughts of horror)
    2. Me and Yeng, reciting it before she gets home in NIA Dormitory, recognizing that God is the one who guides us in our plans.
    3. The Psalm is just so beautiful and so rich, that it becomes applicable to so many different occasions.

The Type and Structure of the Text

  • A psalm of trust
    • A confession of who God is and the psalmist’s trust
    • Although there is the presence of evil and problems, the psalmist doesn’t cry for deliverance (unlike in other psalms)
    • He confesses his trust and assurance in God
  • Structure of the Psalm
    • Vv. 1-4 — Portrays God as a Shepherd
    • Vv. 5-6 — Portrays God as a Host

[Transition]: And that will be our main sermon points (1) God as Our Good Shepherd and (2) God as Our Benevolent Host. 

Point 1: God as Our Good Shepherd

TEXT: 1-4

  • V. 1 — “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want”
    • “LORD” — Covenant and personal name, how God revealed himself to his people
    • “Shepherd” — Metaphor (not that God looks like a shepherd). Unlike other metaphors like “rock,” David uses this metaphor to show the intimate relationship between God and his people
    • “Want” — Not “gusto,” but “pangangailangan” or “kawalan
  • V. 2 — “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters” (or waters of rest)
    • Following the metaphorical language, a shepherd is responsible for leading the sheep to abundant grazing fields/areas and waters to drink
    • The Shepherd leads and provides
  • V. 3 — “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”
    • A shepherd guides the sheep where to go, and likewise, David says that God leads him to the right paths, that is by his Word and providence
    • “Restores” — itinatami, ibinabalik sa tamang kondisyon
  • V. 4 — “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.”
    • “Valley of shadow of death” — Or “valley of deep darkness,” and “darkness” is associated with threats of danger, including death.
      • When shepherding, there are times when the sheep pass through valleys (bangin). Possibility of being lost or attacked by predators (e.g., wolves, bears)
    • “Rod and staff” — “Pamalo” at “tungkod.” Often portrayed for fighting enemies and also guiding the sheep.
    • It gives “comfort” and security to the sheep.

[POINT]: So using the shepherd metaphor, David is saying, “This is who God is to his people.” God is the guide, protector, and provider of his people.

And David highlights the gentle care, the ceaseless vigilance, and abiding presence of the shepherd. (Ang kanyang pag-aalaga, walang tigil na pag-iingat at pag-sama sa kanyang mga tupa).

Now, to better appreciate the imagery of the Shepherd, it’s also necessary for us to understand the nature of the sheep.

  • ILLUSTRATE: The more you realize the difficulty of the job, the more you appreciate the job.
  • What’s in a sheep or flock of sheep, so we better understand the work of the Shepherd?
    • They are gullible — (Video of a woman jogging in the woods, and then surprised that a flock has been following her)
    • They have no sense of direction — 
      • Example: A stray cow in Pangasinan (“hindi ba naliligaw yan?”)
      • For the sheep, even if the grazing is just kilometers away, they cannot go there on their own, and you can’t expect them to come back on their own
      • Example: Today, there are “sheepdogs” to help keep the sheep together. Or else, they will be lost.
    • They are weak — (Video of a sheep who fell down and cannot roll over to get back on its feet). And unlike goats or cows, they couldn’t fight any enemy.

So sheep are creatures that are very weak, very vulnerable, and very incapable. Hence, the sheep cannot live without the shepherd! And it takes a lot of compassion, strength, and self-denial to be a good shepherd.

GOSPEL IMPLICATIONS:

  • Human Condition
    • As God is the shepherd, so we are sheep
    • Isaiah 53:6 — “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone to his own way…
    • READ Romans 3:10-12
      • We strayed away from God (we go our own way, in stubbornness of heart and mind)
      • We cannot find our way back to God (we are incapable)
      • We are lost and are headed for destruction.
  • Salvation from God
    • Christ as our Good Shepherd
    • Matthew 9:36 — (After teaching and healing people) “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
    • READ John 10:11-16
      • Christ came to find us and lead us back to God
      • Christ lived and died and rose again to restore us and give us righteousness
      • And Christ died to protect us and rescue us from the darkest valley of death—God’s condemnation in hell.

CALL FOR REPENTANCE AND FAITH

  • Not just being “sorry”
  • Recognizing that we are spiritually lost and weak, and we need God
  • Embrace Christ and trust him that as a good shepherd, you find your all in him.

Point Summary: As sinners, we are like sheep—weak and going astray. But in Christ, God is our good shepherd who provides us salvation from the eternal danger of God’s wrath due to our sin.

[TRANSITION]: Now, going back to our text, after David uses the imagery of the shepherd for God, he uses the imagery of a host.

Point 2: The LORD as Our Benevolent Host

“Host” — Owner of a house who welcomes guests

“Benevolent” — Disposed/Inclined to do good 

TEXT: vv. 5-6

  • V. 5a — “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”
    • “Table” — Actually a “feast,” a “banquet”
    • In the plain sight of his enemies. Especially in the end, the wicked and the enemies of God and his people shall see God’s favor upon his children.
  • V. 5b — “… you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows”
    • Usually ,”anoint” is associated with initiation to royal status. But the language here is actually, “refresh” (pinapasigla)
    • My “cup” overflows — The abundance of the host’s treatment for the guest
  • V. 6a — “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,”
    • “Surely” — David’s assurance
    • “Shall follow me” — Used for enemies hunting and chasing. The goodness of God will “chase down” the believer. Implies that God will be “intentional” in blessing us.
  • V. 6b — “… and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
    • What does David mean “dwell in the house of the LORD?”
    • READ Psalm 27:4
    • To know God and to have fellowship with him and remain in fellowship with him.

[POINT]: Those who are in fellowship with God receive and enjoy God’s overflowing blessings and find security in him.

  • CLARIFY: The blessing God provides is of course not referring to financial blessing. Though God also provides for us all our material needs.
  • But the point is that for his people, God provides everything that we need—both body and soul, and he does it intentionally and beyond measure.

GOSPEL IMPLICATION

  • Human Condition
    • There is nothing worse than being deprived of the fellowship and favor with God (“cut off”). And there is nothing greater than experiencing the favor and nearness of God, who is “perfectly good and the overflowing fountain of all good” (BC Art. 1)
  • Salvation from God
    • READ John 10:10, “have life abundantly?”
    • READ John 10:28
    • Christ, as our good shepherd and our mediator, gives us nothing less than eternal life, life beyond all.
    • And God is true to his promise, “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
  • And those who belong to Christ are now reconciled to God and have his favor:
    • Ephesians 3:20“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…”
    • Romans 8:28 God “causes” all things to work for the good of his people, to keep us in our salvation
    • READ Romans 8:38-39

Point Summary: As God brings us into fellowship with him, he commits himself to blessing us, sustaining us, and keeping us until the end. In short, bilang mga anak ng Diyos—hindi Niya tayo kailanman pababayaan. That is our assurance as believers.

FINAL IMPLICATIONS:

You see, friends, in this entire Psalm where David portrays God as a good shepherd and benevolent host, two truths comfort us as believers.

  1. God is our guide, protector, and provider in all the changing seasons and circumstances of life.
  2. God’s benevolence is boundless (kabutihang loob ay walang hanggan)

There will still be the valleys, there will still be the enemies. But through all of these, God remains and shepherds his people.

FINAL APPLICATION

  • Reformation
    • We see this even in history, including Reformation, which we celebrate this month.
    • After many centuries of spiritual darkness and corruption in church and society, God still kept and led his people.
  • Today, in light of the news that Pastor Lance stepped down
    • MYSELF: I’ve been tired and discouraged, especially the past 2 weeks. Pressured and afraid. Though I am an undershepherd, I am still weak and in the process of sanctification. But it comforts me to know that God is my good shepherd.
    • WHOLE CHURCH: Everyone’s affected. Some are surprised, sad, confused, disappointed, anxious, hesitant, or fearful. But God continues to remind us that his kingdom rests not in the hands of any person or group of persons. We are mere instruments/undershepherds, and people will always come and go. 
      • John Owen (Before his death) — “I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but while the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable.”
    • The church will always continue, FOR IT IS CHRIST WHO IS OUR SHEPHERD. ONE FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD. 
    • Christ is the Head of the Church. No one else is.
    • It’s hard and I know it will take us time to recover and go beyond this “valley.” But whether we are in green pastures or dark valleys, Christ will still continue to guide and keep us by his Word and Spirit.
    • Hence, let us put all our hope in Christ alone.

Create Conclusion

  1. Beloved, God promised in his Word, that “he shall never leave us, nor forsake us.” Because he is faithful, let us hold on to him and remain in fellowship with him. So we can say with the Psalmist, “surely God’s goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life, and we shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
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