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 Sermon on The Shepherd Psalm

By Brian Pepper


One of the greatest sources of comfort and strength to the Christian is found in the 23rd Psalm or the Shepherd Psalm. There are some that call it the Valley Psalm and that is rather fitting for it stands between two hills. The 22nd Psalm is the psalm of the cross… "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? …"All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, he trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him."

Yes, without the cross of Calvary there would never have been a Shepherd Psalm. There can be no green pastures or waters of quietness until the Shepherd has died on the cross. There is only one good Shepherd and that is the one that has laid down his life for the sheep.

The 24th Psalm is the Psalm of Glory, the return of the Saviour to the courts of glory…

v.7  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the king of glory shall come in.
v.8  Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
v.9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."

Yes, two hilltop Psalms. 

Climbing Mt Calvary, that bitter experience of passing through the valley of the Shadow of Death. Of being nailed to a cruel Cross. The dark hour of separation from His Father.

Then the Mt of Ascension. The wonderful experience of returning to the courts of glory to be welcomed by the entire host of Heaven. To be united with His Heavenly Father.

The Valley Psalm lies between. I like to think of it as the Valley Psalm. For you have the suggestion of water, green pastures and fertile fields.

The Lord is my Shepherd

Can you have a more soul satisfying statement then that? There is something in that statement of David's that immediately puts one's mind at rest. "The Lord is my Shepherd." 

Why, you can just picture the sheep as they contentedly graze in the green pastures. The sheep do not have a moment's anxiety for they know that the shepherd is there to protect them from all harm.

In Isaiah 40:11 we read: "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with his arm."

Truly Jesus of Nazareth is the Shepherd of the Psalm. We call Him the Good Shepherd. And when we allow him to be our shepherd, then we too will be able to feed as contentedly as did the sheep of the Psalm. Now suppose we were to read the text this way? "The Lord is a Shepherd."

Would it mean the same to you?

It was harvesting time and the farmer's little boy was out watching the men at work, the sun was very strong and the boy's head was uncovered.  After a time one of the workmen noticed that the boy had fallen face down in the field.  He rushed over to the lad and efforts were made to revive him but it was all to no avail. It was the sad task of one of the men to take him to the mother.

"The child is dead," Said the workman

"My child is dead," Cried the mother.

Yes, it makes a tremendous difference when it becomes personal.

It is just like saying, "Jesus is a Saviour"

But David said, "Jesus is my Saviour"

What a difference it makes when we are able to say, "The Lord is my Shepherd."

Jesus said "I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

I was looking through the 'Record' the other day and noticed a list of appointees from Avondale. As I read down the list, the names were strange.  They meant nothing to me because they were unfamiliar. How different it is when you know the person. Yes, we need to know the Shepherd.

Jesus says, "I know my sheep and they know me."

Now the next statement is this...

I shall not want

That reminds me of the prodigal son in Luke 15:17.  He exclaimed, "I perish with hunger."

As a prodigal, a rebel, he knew hunger, he knew poverty.  But the moment that he decided to come back to the Father's fold, truly he could say with David "I shall not want."

St Paul tells us, "My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

There are some who do not read this text properly.  They think that God says that he will supply all their wants.  No, God does say that. It would be almost an impossibility to supply some peoples wants, there seems to be no end to what they want.  Why, you can have a house full of the provisions of this life and yet have unhappiness.

In Psalm 34:10 we read, "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." 

If you are willing to put God first then the promise is He will care for your needs. Amid all the sorrow and want of the world the Lord's sheep are well cared for.

Yes "I shall not want."

That is a wonderful promise. A wonderful assurance to the Christian.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures 

Whenever I read this statement it does something to my soul. The picture becomes very clear. A peaceful river, the banks adorned with soft green weeping willow trees. To me this is one of the most relaxing statements in all of the Bible.  In these days of rush and hurry, we need to relax.

Jesus bade us, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile."

God saw that men would need to rest.  So he said, "Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not so any work."

The Good Shepherd knowing what is best for His sheep, has made an arrangement to supply those needs.  Yes, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

When we put God first, to take a little time in the morning while our minds are fresh for Bible study and prayer, then we will experience that quietness that comes to the soul.

He leadeth me

The growl of the bear, the roar of the lion, is sufficient to disturb the flock and to drive them trembling and frightened into a panic.  And how can we rest so long as we feel that we are in danger of the claws of the roaring Lion that "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour?"

In the mortal agonies of the Good Shepherd a fatal blow was dealt the adversary.  In taking the life of Jesus, that forever sealed the doom of the Devil.  For God brought forth from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, and now He lives to guarantee our safety.

"My sheep, said Jesus, 'hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me."

Yes, "He leadeth me."

Beside the still waters

It has been said of sheep that they will never drink from a turbulent stream, but only from still waters. Quietness is a characteristic of the truly great.  Isaiah 30:15 says: "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."

Yes, in quietness there is a storehouse of strength.

Psalm 46:10 says: "Be still and know that I am God." 

It is beside the still waters that we find God.

He restoreth my soul

Did you notice that it says, He restoreth my soul?

Isaiah 53:6 says: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Now let us imagine that my left hand is the sinner and my right hand represents Christ.  My Bible represents the sin or sins of this sinner. Alright, I lay my Bible on my left hand and say, "Now where is your sin?"  The sinner replies, "on me".

Now I will repeat the last half of the verse, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,".  I transfer the Bible from my left hand to my right then I ask, "Where is your sin now?"  The answer comes "On Christ of course."  Is it on you any longer?  "No it is on Christ."

Luke 19:10 says: "For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which is lost."

Yes, Jesus restores you and he restores me.  And we notice that when Jesus restores, He restores fully and completely. 

The thing we notice about the Prodigal Son is the fact that he was fully restored.
"Bring forth the best robe, and put it upon him."

Now that is restoration full and complete. I think that is wonderful. It is just like Jesus to do a thing like that.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness

Jesus leads us into the right paths, the path that will lead us to Heaven.  Matthew 7:14 says:
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth until life, and few there be that find it."

No guide would ever think of leading others over a way that he himself had not travelled. He must have actually travelled the route so that no one may question the safety of his leadership.

On a busy street corner in a large city, a poor blind man had become confused in his direction. He was apparently lost. There was a look of consternation and helplessness on his face.  He felt around with his white cane, but did not seem to be able to get his bearings.  Just than a well dressed lady with a very kind face went to his rescue.  She took him by the arm, said a few reassuring words and then helped him across the busy street.

Yes, he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.

For his names sake

Tampion was the greatest watchmaker in London, if not in all the world, and a watch stamped with his name was positive proof of its excellence.  On one occasion a man came in to his workshop and asked him to repair a watch upon which his name was fraudulently engraved.  Before the man's astonished eyes Tampion took a hammer and smashed the watch to pieces. Then he handed the astonished customer a watch of his own making. Tampion's name stood for his character and for the character of his work.  He could not afford to have either jeopardised.

And so it is with our Good Shepherd. His name means everything to him. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save."  He leads that He may save. Unless He leads, He cannot save. Where he leads is a saving way. It is a living way.

His name is "wonderful", Isaiah 9:6.  His ways are wonderful.

"Counsellor".  We can depend on his wisdom.  No experience that we have will ever baffle him.

"The Mighty God".  Tremendous power to save from every sin.

"The Everlasting Father".  We will not be left fatherless, the love of the father and all that goes with that love is assured us.

"The Prince Of Peace".  Peace, the very thing the heart longs for in this world is assured.  When we realise what his name stands for, then we can reverently and devotedly say, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake." 

The valley of the shadow of death

There is an actual Valley of the Shadow of Death in Palestine, and every sheepherder from Spain to Dalmatia knows of it.  It is south of the Jericho road leading from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and is a narrow defile through a mountain range. The valley is four and a half miles long.  Its side walls are over 1500 feet high in places and it is only ten or twelve feet wide at the bottom.  Many wild dogs lurk in the shadows of the valley looking for prey. After a band of sheep has entered the defile, the leader may come upon such a dog. The shepherd skilled in throwing his staff, hurls it at the dog and knocks the animal down and kills it.  Thus the sheep have learned to fear no evil even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death for their master is there to aid and protect them from all harm. 

There are no mountains without valleys and no valleys without mountains and the shepherd leads in one as well as in the other. Yes he is the God of the Valleys.

When we come to the end of the road there is that dark abyss known as death.  David suggests that it is a shadow, and not the real end of the way. The Grave is not the final end of life. 

"Yea through I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death." 

We may walk through that shadow but remember one has been before us. The great comfort that comes to us in this text is that we go through the valley if we allow the Good Shepherd to lead us.  He can safely pilot you and me through the gates of death and bring us out of the dark valley.

I will fear no evil for thou art with me

Speed Gordon, once a very famous driver on the Pacific coast of America.  A man famous for his skill in driving and for his profanity, was on his death bed in the delirium of death, thrust out his feet and clutched at the bedclothes. When asked what was his trouble he replied, "I am going down a terrible grade, and I can't find the brake."  Had the Master been with him he would have had no fear at this crisis of his life.

The psalmist does not say that there will be no evil, but "I will fear no evil."  Evil there is and will be, but Jesus has prayed that we be kept from evil. He knows that if we have been kept from evil, there will be no fear at the hour of death.

For thou art with me

To be assured of the personal presence of Jesus is one of the greatest blessings in the Christians' experience.

"Thou art with me."  Have you ever thought what Jesus' presence means?  God assured Moses with these words, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." 

His Presence will bring rest.  David knew of what he spoke about when he said, "Thou art with me."  His sins had been cleansed, and the Shepherd could say of him "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will."

Today I am going to ask you something very personal.  Can you say with David "Thou art with me"?  If you can then praise God.

D.L. Moody was preaching up in Scotland in one town where a congregation of some two thousand were gathered to listen to him, they sang the 23rd Psalm.  Mr Moody said, "I have never heard the 23rd Psalm sung as they sung it."  He began to wonder how many sang it from the heart.  So he asked for those who could sing it from the heart to rise and sing it again.  He said, "I never heard it sung so poorly.  There was only about fifty people on their feet."

Yes, it is one thing to sing "The Lord Is My Shepherd", and another thing to believe it.  Is the Lord really your shepherd?  If he is, then you like David can sing "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want". God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 


The Bible in Song Sermons category is expected to be enlarged over time as hard copy sermon notes are scanned, typed and edited in webpage format. Visit Sermons Page for the complete list of sermons and Bible Commentaries

  PDF Sermon Files
Click image for sample. The Complete Sermon Collection is available at the Store Page. It includes 169 sermons which are listed on the Sermons Page, plus several audio visual sermonettes and a number of incomplete sermons. Original typed sermon notes have been scanned in PDF files on a DVD.


  PDF Revelation Files
Easy access to all the uploaded Revelation Bible Commentaries written by Brian Pepper. Also a CD of the complete Book of Revelation consisting of 22 PDF files scanned from original typed documents. These files can be downloaded by Adobe Acrobat to view on computer screen, or printed in booklet or other format.


  SDA Prophecy Chart
Bible in Song Sermons and Commentaries pages have exposed flaws in the "2300 day" prophecy chart most notably used by Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists in their biblical interpretation have favored the tradition of their founding fathers over Scripture and the "divine revelation" of their own prophet Ellen White. Read more.


Thank you for posting some of (Brian Pepper's) sermons. It's like reading the very words Jesus has spoken to me and is a great encouragement. I cannot say that about many Pastors but I can say that about (Pr Pepper). Thank you. Robert (USA) ... more testimonials.



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