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Psalm 23 1
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

SheepBackground

Many of David’s psalms are full of complaints, but this is full of comforts, and the expressions of David’s delight in God’s great goodness and dependence upon him. It is a psalm which has been sung by good Christians, and will remain a favorite, bringing a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction to those who hear it.

  • David describes his relation to God, as his shepherd (v. 1).
  • He recounts his experience of the kind things God had done for him as his shepherd (v. 2, v. 3, v. 5).
  • David concludes that he should want nothing more (v. 1), that he does not need to fear evil (v. 4), and that God would never leave him or forsake him in when David was in need of God’s mercy. Therefore David resolves never to leave or forsake God as part of his of duties (v. 6).

In this psalm, David certainly has his eyes focused, not only to the blessings of God’s providence, which made his outward condition prosperous, but to the communications of God’s grace, received by a lively faith, and returned in a warm devotion. This filled David soul with unspeakable joy. And, as in many places in the Old Testament, Psalm 23 foretells us of Christ dying for His sheep and provides an insight to Christians who will receive the benefit of all the care and tenderness of that great and good shepherd, Christ.

Biblical Truth

Verses 1–2: In Israel, sheep followed their shepherd who will lead them to green fields where they will find plenty to eat, sleep well because they are safe and can rest and find safe water for their thirst. While the sheep may think they know where to find good things, it is the shepherd who knows what is best for His flock.

Verses 3–4: We are reminded that God is like a guide and the responsibilities of guiding a flock on their journeys was in the hands of the shepherd. Because of David’s experiences with guides and shepherds, he found himself thinking about God and how he was protected through his life’s journey. The two analogies are true, “GOD IS LIKE A GUIDE – GOD IS ALSO LIKE A SHEPHERD.” The valley of the River Jabbok where David was a shepherd was very dark. But with God as his guide, the shepherd David was safe. God brought David through the shadow of death.

Verses 5–6: God is also like a friend. In the beginning of Psalm 23 (1-4), David is recalling life on earth but in the end of the Psalm 23 (5-6), David is foretelling us about life in heaven.

In the psalm, David’s experiences with a human guide was thought to be with Barzillai, a wealthy Gileadite who showed hospitality to David when he fled from Absalom. (2 Samuel 17:27. Barzillai made a great dinner for David, he poured oil, from plants, on David’s head, Barzillai gave David wine to drink. David then compared this experience with what eternity with God will be like.

Items for Discussion

  • If you had to summarize the attributes of a happy life, what would they be?
  • How are your examples from the question above similar or different than those David seems to be describing in this Psalm?
  • What experiences in life have you had that help you understand what God will be like and what eternal life might be like?
  • Why is a relationship with God so important for our earthly life (see verses 3 and 4 for ideas)?

 

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Background 2

Chapter 8 is intended mainly to show that the gospel could do what the Law was incapable of doing. In chapter 8, Paul shows that the Law was incapable of producing sanctification or peace of mind. He had traced its influence on the mind in different conditions, and shown that equally before regeneration and afterward, it was incapable of producing peace and holiness. Such was man, such were his propensities that the application of law only tended to excite, to irritate, to produce conflict.

The human conscience, indeed, testified to the Law that it was good; but still it had shown that it was not adapted to produce holiness of heart and peace, but agitation, conflict, and a state of excited sin. In opposition to this, Paul proceeds to show in this chapter the power of the Gospel to produce what the Law could not:

  • The Gospel does what the Law could not do in giving life, and delivering from condemnation, Romans 8:1-13.
  • The Gospel produces a spirit of adoption, and all the blessings which result from the relationship similar to that a sibling has with a parent; that relationship provides the confidence with which we can address God as our Father, in opposition to the Law which produced only terror and alarm, Romans 8:14-17.
  • The Gospel sustains the soul amidst its captivity to sin, and its trials, with the hope of a future deliverance – a complete and final redemption, of the body from all the evils of this life, Romans 8:18-25.
  • The Gospel furnishes the aid of the Holy Spirit to sustain us in our trials and infirmities, Romans 8:26-27.
    · The Gospel gives the assurance that all things will work together for good, since all things are connected with the purpose of God, and all that can occur to a Christian comes in as a part of the plan of Him who has resolved to save Him, Romans 8:28-30.
  • The Gospel ministers consolation from the fact that everything that can affect the happiness of man is on the side of the Christian, and will cooperate in his favor; as, e. g.,
    • God, in giving his Son, and in justifying the believer, Romans 8:31-33.
    • Christ, in dying, and rising, and interceding for Christians, Romans 8:34.
    • The love of a Christian to the Saviour is in itself so strong, that nothing can separate him from it, Romans 8:35-39.

By all these considerations the superiority of the gospel to the Law is shown, and assurance is given to the believer of his final salvation. By this interesting and conclusive train of reasoning, the Apostle Paul is prepared for the triumphant language of extreme joy with which Paul closes this most precious portion of the Word of God.

Biblical Truth 3

‘We know’ means that Christians already have had this experience. God is already working in our lives. We have suffered pain and disappointment. People have opposed us. Our troubles have been great. But even at the worst times, God was working for our benefit. He was helping us. He looked after us when nobody else cared. He is our Father, who loves us. And God promises to continue to look after the people who love him. So we should not be afraid of future problems. And we should not be angry when unpleasant things happen. Instead, we should trust Him. He has a plan. He chose to adopt us as His sons and daughters. He is looking after us during our present troubles. And so He will bring us into his new age, when we shall be free from all these troubles.

Items for Discussion

  • So what is “God’s Purpose?”
  • How do you know when the “things in life” are working for your own good?
  • How does a person find “God’s Purpose” for their life?
  • What is Grace?
  • How does God’s Grace work to help us find “God’s Purpose for our lives?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the role of today’s church in helping people find “God’s Purpose for their lives?”
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