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Psalm 23 1
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 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 goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

clip_image047Background

Psalm 23 (Greek numbering: Psalm 22), sometimes known as the Shepherd Psalm because of its opening line, “The Lord is my shepherd”, is perhaps the best-known psalm, and perhaps the best-known chapter in the Hebrew Bible.

The theme of this poem casts God in the role of protector and provider, and is routinely read and recited by Jews and Christians alike. For Christians, the “Lord” referred to is taken to be Jesus, who referred to himself as “The Good Shepherd” according to the Gospel of John.

Psalm 23 was set in meter as part of the Scottish Psalter shortly after the Reformation. It is in that form that it is most popularly encountered in Protestant Churches and common culture to the present day. Traditionally, the metrical psalm is set to the tune ‘Crimond,’ although other tunes such as Brother James’ Air are also popular. The words of Psalm 23, as arranged in the Scottish Psalter, are as follows:

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want:
He maketh me down to lie
In pastures green; he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill;
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnishèd
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;

And in God’s house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

The position of this psalm is worthy of notice. It follows the twenty-second, which is peculiarly the Psalm of the Cross. There are no green pastures, no still waters on the other side of the twenty-second psalm. It is only after we have read, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” that we come to “The Lord is my Shepherd.” We must by experience know the value of blood shedding, and see the sword awakened against the Shepherd, before we shall be able truly to know the Sweetness of the good Shepherd’s care.

It has been said that what the nightingale is among birds, that is this divine ode among the psalms, for it has sung sweetly in the ear of many a mourner in his night of weeping, and has bidden him hope for a morning of joy. I will venture to compare it also to the lark, which sings as it mounts, and mounts as it sings, until it is out of sight, and even then is not out of hearing. Note the last words of the psalm—”I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever; “these are celestial notes, more fitted for the eternal mansions than for these dwelling places below the clouds. Oh that we may enter into the spirit of the psalm as we read it, and then we shall experience the days of heaven upon the earth!

Items for Discussion

  • This Psalm seems to have a cadence about it that sooths the soul – What do you here in it that gives you comfort?
  • This is David’s Psalm – Why do you think David had these emotions and thoughts?
  • How is this Psalm like life?
  • What is God’s promise according to David?

 

John 21:1-12
1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

Background

The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel in the New Testament, written by John the Evangelist. Like the three synoptic gospels, it contains an account of some of the actions and sayings of Jesus, but differs from them in its distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, guiding beliefs and theological emphases. The purpose is expressed in the conclusion, found in verses 20:30-31: “…these [Miracles of Jesus] are written down so you will come to believe that Jesus is the Anointed, God’s son — and by believing this have life in His name.” Of the four gospels, John presents takes the highest position, implicitly declaring Jesus to be God. Compared to the synoptics, John focuses on Jesus’ cosmic mission to redeem humanity over the earthly mission to teach, cast out demons (which is not mentioned), and comfort the poor.

Biblical Truths and Theology 2

Verse 1. The sea of Tiberias. Called also the Sea of Galilee, being situated in Galilee. In this place Jesus had promised to meet them, Mark 14:28; 16:7; Matthew 26:32; 28:10. This interview of Jesus is but just mentioned by Matthew (Matthew 28:16), and is omitted by both Mark and Luke. This is the reason why John relates so particularly what occurred there. Galilee was a retired place where they would be free from danger, and was therefore a safe and convenient situation for Jesus to meet them, in order to give them his last instructions.

On this wise. Thus. In this manner.

Verse 2. There were together. Probably residing in the same place. While they were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit, they still found it proper to be usefully employed. Their Master had been taken away by death, and the promised Spirit had not descended on them. In the interval—before the promised Spirit was poured upon them– they chose not to be idle, and therefore returned to their former employment. It is to be remarked, also, that they had no other means of support. While with Jesus, they were commonly supplied by the kindness of the people; but now, when the Savior had died, they were cut off from this means of support, and returned to the honest labor of their early lives. Moreover, they had been directed by the Savior to repair to a mountain in Galilee, where he would meet them, Matthew 28:10. This was probably not far from the Sea of Galilee, so that, until he came to them, they would naturally be engaged in their old employment. Ministers of the gospel should be willing to labor, if necessary, for their own support, and should not esteem such labor dishonorable. God has made employment indispensable to man, and if the field of labor is not open in one way, they should seek it in another. If at any time the people withhold the supply of their wants, they should be able and willing to seek support in some other honest occupation.

Verse 3. That night they caught nothing. This was so ordered in the providence of God that the miracle which was wrought might appear more remarkable.

Verse 4. Knew not that it was Jesus. Probably it was yet twilight, and in the distance they could not distinctly recognize him.

Verse 5. Children. A term of affection and friendship, 1 John 2:18.

Any meat. This word (Greek) means anything eaten with bread. It was used by the Greeks especially to denote fish (Schleusner)

Verse 6. On the right side. Why the right side is mentioned is not known. Grotius supposes that it was the side nearest the shore, where there was less probability of taking fish. It does not appear that they yet recognized the Lord Jesus but from some cause they had sufficient confidence in him to make another trial. Perhaps they judged that he was one skilled in that employment, and knew where there was the greatest probability of success.

Verse 7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved. John 13:23.

It is the Lord. He was convinced, perhaps, by the apparent miracle, and by looking more attentively on the person of one who had been the means of such unexpected and remarkable success.

His fisher’s coat. His upper or outer garment or tunic, in distinction from the inner garment or tunic which was worn next the skin. In the case of Peter it may have been made of coarse materials such as fishermen commonly wore, or such as Peter usually wore when he was engaged in this employment. Such garments are common with men of this occupation. This outer garment he probably had laid aside. He was naked. He was undressed, with nothing on but the under garment or tunic. The word does not require us to suppose a greater degree of nakedness than this. Did cast himself into the sea. With characteristic ardor, desirous of meeting again his Lord, and showing his affection for him.

Verse 8. Two hundred cubits. About 350 feet, or a little more than 20 rods.

Verse 9. They saw a fire, &c. We have no knowledge whence this was produced– whether it was, as Grotius supposes, by a miracle, or whether it was a place occupied by other fishermen, where they also might cook the fish which they had caught. As no miracle is mentioned, however, there is no reason for supposing that any existed in the case.

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 11. An hundred and fifty and three. The number is mentioned because it seems to have been a very unusual draught, and it was particularly gratifying and striking to them after they had spent the whole night and had caught nothing. This convinced them that it was no other than the same Savior who had so often worked wonders before them that was now with them.

Verse 12. Come and dine. The word in the original means the meal which is taken in the morning, or breakfast.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the life’s lessons that we can gather from this story?
  • God can supply all of my needs for life as well as service.
  • He demands my absolute obedience in following him.
  • His way is always the best way.
  • His way for me may be different than someone else.
  • Jesus is devoted to the masses and yet also devoted to individuals – the disciples and Peter.
  • From the three affirmations of his love for Jesus, we see that: Love of Christ is the major motivation for the ministry.
  • There is always hope of restoration for a fallen disciple.

Discussion Challenge

  • Why is the story of Jesus and the Apostle’s fishing still relevant today?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Barnes Notes – http://www.studylight.org/com/bnn/view.cgi?book=joh&chapter=021
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