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Order Of Worship (Liturgy)Scripture Reading: John 10:1-18
Text: Psalm 23:1a
Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
In this service we want to give our attention to Psalm
23. This is probably the best-known and the best-loved
Psalm of the Bible! But know, congregation, that it takes a life-time to apply this Psalm to ourselves!
Indeed, the more I studied this Psalm the more I discovered that Psalm 23 contains a foundational truth of God's Word, which must form the biblical basis of our every day life!
And the truth is that we seek our own human basis and
comforts in life. But that is really sheepish!
That's what we learn from Psalm 23. But first and foremost we learn that the Lord as the Shepherd takes care of us in all circumstances. He knows who we are!
Yes, Psalm 23 shows us Who our Lord is; and it shows who
we are! - and it also shows which blessings we receive. This brings us to our theme:
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
From this close relationship between the Lord and us
we will see
first - 1. Who the Lord is, ---> the Good Shepherd
- 2. Secondly who we are; ---> the sheep
- 3. And thirdly which blessings flow from the
relationship between the Shepherd and the sheep.
First: to whom does David refer when he says: the LORD. Who is the LORD? That's an important question!
Who is the Lord God, we worship and confess? What is His Name?
Well, the LORD is first and foremost He Who reveals Himself in the Bible as the Creator of all things. The LORD has made all things, and He therefore owns all things.
The Bible shows us the LORD as the "sovereign" God. This means that the LORD has the absolute control of all things.
The LORD is not dependent on anything or anyone. He is a fullness and a completeness in Himself.
The God of the Bible reveals Himself as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God the Father is God the author - the originator of all that exists. It was in His mind that all took shape.
When we look at all the stars at night; when we consider all the complexities of life on earth, then we see the greatness of God the Father as the Architect of our planet and the whole universe.
God the Son is God's love - by whom all things are
preserved and through Whom all things continue to exist.
In Person He is God's Wisdom and Word Who was born in our human flesh to stop all evil.
Every Word of God witnesses to the love of God the Son, Who preserves and protects God's people.
God the Spirit is God's agent Who gives form and shape
to everything. He is the actual worker of all things.
Every newborn child, every believing person, every new
summer season, is the work of God the Spirit.
You know: God's Word is a beautiful revelation of the
works of God Triune! Behind all we read in the Bible is God's fatherly care and faithfulness, His immensely great love in His Son, and His immeasurably great power through His Spirit.
By this divine care, love and power all things are
The holy Bible is the revelation of this Triune God as
our LORD. He is our Maker! He is our Saviour! He is our Strength! (Help)
Now, to whom is this divine revelation given? God's Word is addressed to man.
Although God is a fullness of relationships in Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He made another relationship (covenant).
He created man and made man his friend. As his friend God gave man all that He had made in possession. All things were under man's dominion. All things were subjected to man.
Man received wonderful gifts for managing God's world:
Man possessed wisdom, insight, honesty, perfection, a
As a dependent agent of God man had to direct all things to the praise of God. In his state of uprightness in Paradise man didn't need to be led. Man was the celebrated leader of all creatures.
However, something terrible happened with the beautiful
relationship between God and man. An evil advisor recommended to the friend of God that an independent position from God would be much more beneficial to man.
And the unbelievable thing happened! Man took the misconstrued advise of the devil, and man broke his friendship with God. In Paradise man disobeyed His Maker.
Man became a sinner - he turned away from God; now he
was opposing God.
Being on the side of the devil he was not God's friend
anymore but his enemy.
But what is God's revelation in this changed
relationship? Did the LORD change too?
No! The LORD is God and He remains God. He continues to show that He is the Triune God.
He remains faithful to all that He started. That is also
the meaning of His Name - He is the LORD! This is not only the Name that speaks of His mighty works of Creation.
It is also the Name that speaks of God in relation to
men as sinners. He is their Judge, punishing them
because of their evil, leaving them on the paths of
unrighteousness which lead to death.
But the Name "LORD" speaks of something more. This
concerns the amazing truth of the Bible! The Name LORD speaks of God in relation to men who are sinners, but who have come under His saving grace!!
This is the good news of the Bible: Not all sinful men
are judged and condemned.
God is gracious and merciful to His people: to Noah, to
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, redeeming His people from all
evil and oppression.
He leads them away from all evil in paths of righteousness! - these are paths unto life!
Why does this happen? In vs. 3 we read that God is doing this "for His Name's sake". In other words: God is the LORD!
So, what does God's name proclaim in connection with His
people. It is this: God doesn't want His relationship
with them to be broken!
Therefore, since their fall into sin his people are not
capable anymore to guide, to lead and to help themselves
- God is now doing everything for them. !!!!!
Indeed, God maintains his relationship with his people
as being a true Shepherd to them!
As a shepherd He led Abraham away from the danger of
idolatry. As a shepherd He cared for the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He delivered Israel from evil bondage; He brought them
into the grassy meadows of the promised land. He fought
against their enemies.
From the NT we know who the Shepherd of the OT, the
Shepherd of Ps 23, is. It is the clear message of the
gospel, especially in John 10!
In this passage, which we read, Jesus Christ claims of
Himself: I am the Good Shepherd!
Here He identifies Himself with the Shepherd of Old
This can mean only one thing: He is our divine Saviour!
For there was only One good!
There was only one Shepherd!
There was only One who had the right to the title
"The Good Shepherd" -
It was and still is Jesus of Nazareth!
He is the Lord! - He is our Lord.
For He bought us with His precious blood, and leads us
into the blessed ways of righteousness.
His leading characteristic as the Good Shepherd is this,
that He gives His life, He lays it down, a sacrifice for
In our last point we will look at all the blessings we
receive from our Shepherd in some more detail.
Now we have seen who are Shepherd is, we must know who
we ourselves are. Well, when Jesus is the Shepherd, then
his followers are His sheep.
2. What do you think of this characterization? -
- that the Bible identifies God's people with sheep?
- Do you like that?
- Is it appropriate for God's people to be painted as
Does this imaginary give you idyllic or romantic
feelings, thinking of sheep which are carefully led by a
shepherd from one place to another.
Now, beloved, the Bible doesn't speak about "sheep" in
an idyllic way.
We must connect this imaginary with the fall into sin,
we already spoke about.
The Psalmist confesses in Ps 119:176 -
"I have gone astray like a lost sheep ..."
The prophet Isaiah says something similar in Ch.53:6
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned,
everyone, to his own way."
In many other places the Bible points to God's people as
lost and wandering sheep, scattered all over the place.
Now, what a sheep?
Sheep cann't help themselves in any respect.
In a sense sheep are the dumbest of all domesticated
animals, I read somewhere.
They cannot find their own pastures and water unless
they are right under their noses, and then, if they are
not watched, they will eat or drink themselves to death.
Sheep cannot have their young by themselves.
They will not seek shelter in a blizzard though the
shelter be within twenty feet of them.
Sheep panic easily at unexpected noises and will
sometimes rush off to destruction if they are not
They will foolishly wander away from the flock if they
are not kept close by the shepherd, even though they are
totally unable to cope with the dangers of mountains,
cliffs, ravines, and wild animals.
Sheep don't know what is good or bad for them; if they
see a comfortable hollow-place, then they lay themselves
However, then they become "cast" - as it is called in
shepherding terms - because of their weight they can't
roll themselves back and get up again. Some one else
must set them back on their feet.
So, sheep must be constantly watched and cared for
What do we think now of the fact that the Bible compares
us with sheep who don't know their own good, who are the
It is certainly not flattering for us, is it! ...
But how true the comparison is!
We have such a stupid nature like sheep.
We cannot help ourselves.
We always look for the greener grass over the fence.
We like to wander off to dangerous places.
We like the comfortable spots of life.
From ourselves we don't know our good.
In short, we are in need of Someone who has endless
patience; one who will not be annoyed under the trouble
and grief that the sheep cause him; one who is willing
to forego his own life for the welfare of the sheep and
who will provide for the sheep all their needs.
No man can do this!
It takes a man who loves sheep not because they are such
lovable creatures, for they are often quite the
contrary, but simply because he loves them.
This is what Christ, the Good and Great Shepherd did and
does for His people, whom He bought with His precious
He, our Lord Jesus, is the Good Shepherd!
Finally which blessings do we receive from our
relationship with the Good Shepherd?
We receive the blessings of all his love and care as it
is recounted in Ps. 23.
David, being a shepherd-boy, would have fully understood
what this caring and providing for sheep was all about.
In his Psalm he takes us with him from the home farm/
ranch where every need is so carefully supplied by the
owner, out into the green pastures, along the still
waters, up through the mountain valleys to the high
mountain plateaus (tables) - that is: the high
tablelands of summer.
So, along the way there were hills, ravines and streams
But the shepherd knew the right paths and fords to take.
He avoided certain dangerous ones and other that led
Purposefully he led them to grassy meadows and still
waters, where the sheep could nourish and refresh
themselves to their hearts content.
There they laid down!
That's (the laying down) something what sheep are only
doing when they are satisfied and feel safe.
When sheep are disturbed and chased e.g. by a fox or a
dog, not being aware of the presence of the Shepherd,
then they are greatly distressed and fearful.
But the moment that they hear the whistle of the
shepherd, when they sense that the watching eye of the
shepherd is upon them, they calm down.
For they know themselves safe in the presence of
This is the peace for those who confess the Lord to
be their Shepherd.
They have this blessed certainty: The Good Shepherd
He also restores me.
He preserves me against all dangers and evils.
When I am (down)cast, He will lift me up!
He even makes sure that I do not walk away from Him. He
is doing that with his "rod and staff".
With the rod the shepherd beats off wild animals; and
with the crook of his staff he re-directs the
The rod and staff stand for the loving leadership and
discipline of the Shepherd.
Rod and staff keep the sheep within the safety of the
shepherd and his flock.
The Shepherd protects us.
Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, we can be at peace, for the LORD is with us!
In a dark, dangerous and destructive world He sustains
and keeps us always, in all circumstances; in most cases
we are not even aware of all what He does.
Why are we protected?
How are we kept?
We read that wherever we go "goodness and mercy" follow
See! God preserves. He does not let us stumble, or being
attacked to our death.
He anoints our head with oil.
In shepherding this happened to keep away the flies, -
nasty enemies to sheep - !
The oil would heal wounds, and it was poured over the
sheep's head, because flies attack a sheep not through
her thick wool but all round her head, and they are very
bothersome to her.
"You anoint my head with oil".
Apply this to the Holy Spirit. It is the safe keeping of
God in the anointing and blessing of the Holy Spirit
that preserves us!
And it happens abundantly: the cup runs over through the
multiplied grace of our Lord, every week, every day
again! All the days of our life!!
For it is true as the Psalm concludes: those
who live in the comforting presence/relationship of the
Lord shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever!!
The Bond with the Good Shepherd will never be broken.
What blessings we receive from the intensive care of the
Beloved, which phrase did I skip so far? The words which immediately follow our text. "(The Lord is my shepherd) - I shall not be in want"
On purpose I left that phrase for the end.
Take note: what the Bible says here.
Does it say: The Lord is my Shepherd, because I am not in want?
Here we touch our difficulty!!! - with which we have to struggle all our life! We often make an improper use of this Psalm.
For our inclination is to place the emphasis first on ourselves, and on our own circumstances.
Then we read: The Lord is my Shepherd, because I am not in want.
The Lord is my Shepherd, because my needs must be met ...
However, where does the Bible place the emphasis? not on me, not on man, but on the LORD!
Psalm 23 is a beautiful confession about the undeserved love and grace of the LORD.
The LORD is my Shepherd, therefore: - i.e.in all circumstances and at all times: I shall not be in want!
Beloved, it indeed takes a lifetime to confess this
truth to the full 100% - for isn't it true that most of the time we lead a discontented, a frustrated, a confused life,
aren't we often straying, and getting lost?
We really must be compared with sheep!
What a blessing it is then, that we have Jesus Christ
as our Good Shepherd. His rod and His staff comfort us.
With all His care and blessings we indeed have no want
For: ... THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD! AMEN.
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Klaas Jonker, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service. Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: grace.canadianreformed.ca
(c) Copyright, Rev. Klaas Jonker
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