The Shepherd’s Psalm. Psalm 23. Pastor Kyle

This psalm is about assurance and confidence.

Where is our confidence? Is it self confidence? But how will that sustain us when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

What is the ground and source of our assurance and confidence? The warrior-poet King David will not let that rest upon ourselves but a different source outside of us.

The big idea: the confidence and assurance of God’s people must rest in God Himself.

I. Is God your sovereign shepherd? Vs1

LORD in all caps is the covenant keeping God. Is he your God? He is not just Israel’s God – he is David’s.

Jesus, though true, is the savior of Christians. But is he MY savior?

I have a wife, but Jodi is MY wife. There is a big difference here.

Is shepherd a title or a term of close relationship? Yes to both. Just like in John 10, Jesus’ sheep know his voice. The sovereign is both other than us – ie knowing the number of hairs on our head – and he is MY shepherd.

II. Are you directing or being directed? Vs2-3

Look at the subject and the verb:
He makes
He leads
He restores
He leads

God is the subject here doing all the action.

David is not confused about who is the shepherd and who is the sheep. It will not end well for the sheep if they pick the path.

Our problem is that we would rather pick our own path and not be directed and led. We want Jesus, then, to rescue us when things go badly, but we want to pick our own path.

"I love me and have a wonderful plan for my life" to change the Billy Graham famous quote to honestly show our hearts. Sometimes I need a higher power on occasion. As long as his path is close to mine we are great. But when they diverge, I prefer my path over his.

Instead, I am one of Christ’s sheep. I hear his voice. I don’t always do it really well, but I hear my loving shepherd.

III. This ain’t Beowolf and the gang in the Mead Hall of Heorot. Vs4-6

Grendel was the ancient evil that Beowolf was against. Their weapons are right by them in the great hall of feast and they only slightly rejoice as they look over their shoulders for evil and danger at every turn. That is not the picture here in Psalm 23 but something radically different.

We are always in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death – we are just more aware of it sometimes than others. ‘Shadowlands’ is a great way to describe this life as described by C. S. Lewis in his book working through the grief of losing his wife to cancer.

Reject foolish and arrogant paraphrases. We do not have confidence in the shadow of death because we are so rad and bad and strong. No, death will come for us all.

Correction and protection. The rod and the staff are there to protect and give us long term comfort. It may feel unpleasant but it is the Lord’s uncomfortable grace protecting and guiding us in immeasurable love.

Friendship and feasting in unlikely places vs5. Picture David in front of Goliath. God says take off your armor and let me annoint you with oil and friendship and let’s feast. It will come at unlikely times where you normally would not expect it.

What does it mean that our enemies are forced to “witness our enjoyment at a leisurely banquet without being able to disturb it”? That is the picture here of preparing a table in the presence of my enemies – that’s good news.

Not pursued by enemies v6. So after the eating we expect enemies to pursue us and instead we get goodness and mercy to pursue us. It is not my enemies that pursue me but God’s goodness and mercy. Therefore, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

How do we overcome the valley? We do because our shepherd pulls us through it, provides a feast in a weird place, and pursues us all our days with himself.

The communion table is our feast he has prepared for us, right in the middle of the shadowlands. This points us to a day when all our enemies will be fully defeated, and we will see it. We will dwell in his house forever!

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Great words from the Amazing Grace writer… “For while in Him confiding (I.e. Even in the midst of broken dreams), I cannot but rejoice.”

Gering,Nebraska, Spring 2015

Joy and Peace in Believing
By John Newton

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in his wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation,
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,
And find it ever new:
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
E’en let th’ unknown tomorrow
Bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing
But he will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing,
Will clothe his people too:
Beneath the spreading heavens,
No creature but is fed;
And he who feeds the ravens,
Will give his children bread.

Though vine nor fig-tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there:
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

God’s steadfast love (Hebrew word ‘hesed’) has delivered us in the past, gives stability in the present, and secures our future.

Near Mt Rushmore, SD, Fall 2014

Psalm 21. Past, Present, and Future. Pastor Kyle

Intro: As goes the heart of God’s king in the Old Testament, so goes the welfare of the people. That is why the psalmist starts as he does in the opening verses.

The big idea: God’s steadfast love (Hebrew word ‘hesed’) has delivered us in the past, gives stability in the present, and secures our future.

I. Give God particular praise for past deliverance. Vs1-6

It is not nostalgia. It is seeing the reality of the way God delivered us and guided us which guarantees how he will fulfill his promises to us going forward. That is what this psalmist does with the people of God.

II. Enjoy the indestructible stability of ‘hesed’.

Steadfast love is from the old Hebrew word ‘hesed’.

How is it that the king is stable today in the present? It is THROUGH the steadfast, unfailing love of God. It is his covenant love for us that won’t let us go. Hesed is ONE-WAY LOVE WITH NO EXIT STRATEGY – based on a Paul Miller quote.

It is not my doing – it is God’s doing.

We hear echoes of Psalm 21 in Romans 8:31-38. This is hesed love for God’s people. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I am sure that nothing will separate us – neither death nor life, etc.

Love in our culture is a bad word often times. God does not try out his love with us by living together before he commits to us. He commits while we hate him then pulls us to himself with this no exit strategy love.

III. A secure future in God’s kingdom. Vs8-13

In this section it is total annihilation language where God judges his enemies.

Is this really in the Bible? I thought God was a God of Love?

Do we know what will happen in the Lord’s Prayer when Thy Kingdom comes? There will only be one kingdom.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 says that there will always be those who oppose the gospel and the seed of God’s people. The church will be persecuted. There will always be people who disobey God’s words and will.

So, stay faithful and be encouraged: God will make sure that perfect justice will in fact take place.

This ought also to humble us: God is not going to just wipe out our enemies, he should wipe us out too. However, because he saved sinners like us, we are safe. As the old hymn goes: O, how I love Jesus, because he first loved me.

Conclusion – the Lord’s Supper

This morning we have a tangible reminder of God’s hesed at the table. He loved us to the point of death on the cross. It is not our obedience in coming to the table that earns Gods favor over us. He is reminding us again how much he loves us to pour out his son’s blood for us.

Be humbled and be encouraged. Live in bold-humility.

The passage:

1 O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
8 Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Psalms 21:1-13

Great song and quote based on psalm 42 – preaching to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves.

Sandra McCracken

Why are you so full of heaviness?
Why are you disquieted within?
O my soul, O my soul

As the deer longs for the water brooks
So my soul it longs, it thirsts for you
O my God, O my God

Put your trust in God, I will yet give thanks to him
Put your trust in God, I will yet give thanks to him
Put your trust in God, I will yet give thanks to him
My help, my God

Deep calls unto deep like ocean waves,
All your floods and rapids on me break
Oh my soul, O my soul

I will say unto my God, my strength,
“How is it you have forgotten me?
O how long? O how long?” (Chorus)

Yahweh grants his kindness in the day
Through the night his song, it is with me.
Oh my God, O my God… (Chorus)

© 2015 Drink Your Tea (ASCAP)

Psalm 63 says that the God of Jacob is for us… Jacob the swindler, like us – but God is faithful and brings change from inside out…

“Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray…”

Dads birthday present – tennis with the fam… Fun. (P.S. Full transparency – my eyes are not blue – filters…)

Contrast of two times Jacob hears from God – 20 years apart; how do people change? Hearts melted by Christ…

… the deepest differences between the two journeys are reflected in Jacob’s changed attitude toward God.

On the outbound trip, Jacob takes no initiative in matters divine. He simply goes to sleep (Gen. 28). It is God who intervenes with a remarkable vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven. When Jacob awakens, he acknowledges that what he experienced was some sort of visitation from God (28:16-17), but his response is to barter with God:if God will grant him security, safety, prosperity, and ultimately a happy return home, Jacob for his part will acknowledge God and offer him a tithe.

Now it is rather different. True, God again takes the initiative:Jacob meets angelic messengers (32:1-2). Jacob decides to act prudently. He sends some of his people ahead to announce to Esau that his brother is returning. This spawns devastating news:Esau is coming to meet him, but with four hundred men.

On the one hand, Jacob sets in motion a carefully orchestrated plan:successive waves of gifts for his brother are sent on ahead, with each of the messengers carefully instructed to speak to Esau with the utmost courtesy and respect. On the other hand, Jacob admits that matters are out of his control. Bartering is gone; in “great fear and distress” (32:7) Jacob takes action, and then prays, begging for help. He reminds God of his covenantal promises, he pleads his own unworthiness, he acknowledges how many undeserved blessings he has received, he confesses his own terror (32:9-12). And then, in the darkest hours, he wrestles with this strange manifestation of God himself (32:22-30).

Twenty years or so have passed since Jacob’s outward-bound journey. Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray. None of this means he is so paralyzed by fear that he does nothing but retreat into prayer. Rather, it means he does what he can, while believing utterly that salvation is of the Lord. By the time the sun rises, he may walk with a limp, but he is a stronger and better man.

DA Carson aka BA Barackus of Trinity, book For the Love of God.