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d.e. buffaloe

The Lord Is My Shepherd

(Psalms 23 KJV)  "A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. {3} He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. {5} Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

In the first five words of this passage King David perfectly describes the relationship that every believer in Christ has with God and God with Him. In fact, there have been volumes written about God, volumes written about our relationship with God, volumes written about how we should approach our Heavenly Creator, but none have ever described the relationship of the saved to the Savior in such a succinct manner.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

When David wrote these words, he wrote them fully understanding their meaning. Among the Israelites, no job was more important - nor more despised - than the keeping of sheep. Tending sheep was an arduous task, for sheep are, quite simply, not the brightest of animals. They have a tendency to wander off from the herd, to fall in ditches, to eat the wrong thing, and because of this the shepherd has to remain ever watchful, ever diligent, lest the sheep harm themselves. The keeping of sheep usually fell to the youngest child of the family, and David had been a shepherd as a young boy. So when he said:

The Lord is my Shepherd.

He said this understanding that he and we, as sheep, often wander astray. As sheep we sometimes step off course, just as David stepped off course with Bathsheba, just as David stepped off course when he numbered the Israelites contrary to God's will. The Lord is MY Shepherd, therefore I must acknowledge that I AM the sheep, that I AM able to fall, that I DO NOT KNOW what is best for my life, but He does. He does. For,

The Lord is my Shepherd.

Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to Him was given the job of tending the sheep. Just as, within Israel, the youngest son had the duty of tending the sheep, Jesus assumed the role of tending us who believe. The Shepherd's duty is a job that demands dedication, for the Shepherd must be willing to give his life for the Sheep. What did Jesus say? Was He the Shepherd of the sheep? He said:

(John 10:7-16 KJV)  "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. {8} All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. {9} I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. {10} The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. {11} I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. {12} But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. {13} The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. {14} I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. {15} As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. {16} And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

The Lord is my Shepherd. Jesus is my Shepherd. I am His sheep, and I acknowledge this. Having said this, and believing this, both of myself and of the Lord, knowing that Jesus the Only Begotten is my Shepherd, I know this:

(Psalms 23:1-2 KJV)  "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

As long as I have my eyes on my Shepherd, as long as I follow after My Jesus, I will be given the best of pastures - I will be given the purest of waters. Yes, there will be times in this life when I am sick and feeling low, yet at those times He shall raise me up. There shall be times in my life when I can't see the forest for the trees, but no matter .... I will just watch Him, and follow where He leads. I cannot allow pride to lift me up, as it lifted up Satan, if I am to follow Jesus. No, I must acknowledge that He is the Shepherd, I am the sheep, and He knows what's best for me. He leads me steadily, carefully, and ever diligently to the place where I need to be for sustenance. Our Shepherd gives us of Himself eternal life, that Bread that shall always fill:

(John 6:32-35 KJV)  "... my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. {33} For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. {34} Then said they unto him, Lord, ever more give us this bread. {35} And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

and again:

(John 7:37-38 KJV)  "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

My Shepherd Jesus leads me, leads us all to a place where we shall all be fulfilled, where we shall all be satisfied, and that place is in Him, in life eternal. What more does my Shepherd do? What more does my Jesus do?

(Psalms 23:3-4 KJV)  "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

My good friend John White said of this passage, "Can a shadow of a truck run you over?" Before we knew Jesus, death was a very real and frightening thing, a monster that could rob us of the joy of life. Yet now that we know Jesus, we know we have eternal life. Death is no more real, but a shadow. The shadow of a man cannot step on you, and the shadow of an anvil cannot crush you. Shadows have no real substance, but are merely a insubstantial representation of what is truly there. Death for us is a passing from life temporal to life eternal, and because we believe in Him and trust in Him, Jesus, we ARE VICTORIOUS over death. As the Scripture says:

(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 KJV)  "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. {55} O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {56} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. {57} But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Which is how David ends His psalm:

(Psalms 23:5-6 KJV)  "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

Following our Shepherd, we need not fear what life has to hold. We need not fear our enemies, if we have them, nor loss of prestige. We need not fear what life has in store for us, for our Shepherd watches our every move, our every breath, until that day when He calls us home to be with Him in yonder glory. There may be times when we cannot see our Shepherd, but He always sees us, and tends to us.

Closing
All That Matters

"Hurry!"  The father urged his small son as he ventured a glance behind them. "The smoke's getting thicker!"

It had started as an afternoon outing into the national forest near their home. However, they had only hiked a short distance when they first smelled the smoke. As they mounted a rise that gave them a view of the surrounding area, the father saw the source of it. It was a brush fire that was snapping and crackling some distance away, but quickly coming toward them!

"Let's get back to the car," he told his son and they headed back down the trail, the boy's hand clasped in his own.

The father knew that he'd left their car in a nearby parking lot, and once they reached it they could easily escape because the lot and the exit roads were clear and safe. However, to save time the father detoured from the longer descending trail and headed for a small bluff that overlooked the parking lot where they could scramble down right beside his car. Yet, as they reached the bluff the smoke had begun to swirl so near the father realized that both he and his son wouldn't have time to scramble down.  Their only chance was for the father to clamber down the ten foot bluff and then have his son jump into his arms.

The boy watched as the father scooted down to the parking lot and then called back. "Now jump! I'll catch you!"

Yet as the father stood at the bottom of the bluff, his arms outstretched, the smoke that had been coming up behind them suddenly swirled up and around the boy partially obscuring him.

"Daddy!" He screamed. "I can't see you!"

"Jump! I can see you - just jump and I'll catch you."

"But I can't see you!" The boy squealed.

"You don't need to!" The father called. "I see you and that's all that matters! Jump!"

The boy hesitated a half second more, then as the smoke nearly obliterated his small figure, he hurled himself down the bluff... and into his father's arms. They hastened to their car and drove to safety.

Sometimes when I find myself panicking in times of difficulty I can feel as fearful as the boy when my problems seem overwhelming. However, while I know that God is ready to help to accept His assistance I must jump from my own ideas and conceptions into His arms in complete and total trust. Indeed, though I may not see Him, He can see me, and is ready for me, and that's all that matters.


This sermon was preached to the Saints at Ekklesia and Harmony House in Valdosta, Georgia, on the afternoon of March 10, 2002

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