Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Sheep's Perspective

Psalm 23 NIV - 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. ************* Psalm 23:1A "The LORD is my shepherd." Question 1: How did the LORD become David’s shepherd? 1 Chronicles 17:7-8 (New International Version, ©2010) 7 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on earth. Question 2: Why do you think that David identifies his shepherd as LORD instead of as God? Exodus 3:13-14 (New International Version, ©2010) 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Question 3: If David viewed the LORD as his shepherd, what does that reveal of how David viewed himself? If so, what was David’s responsibility to the LORD? What was the LORD’s responsibility to David? John 10:3 -5 (MSG) The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren't used to the sound of it." Isaiah 53:6 (New International Version, ©2010)6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. * God the Father is God the author – In was in His mind, first, that all took shape. * God the Son, our Savior, is God the artisan - the artist, the Creator of all that exists. He brought into being all that had been originally formulated in the Father’s Mind. * God the Holy Spirit is God the agent who presents these facts to both my mind and my spiritual understanding so that they become both real and relative to me as an individual. Some men were gentle, kind, intelligent, brave, and selfless in their devotion to their stock. Other men’s sheep would struggle, starve, and suffer endless hardship. In another’s care they would flourish and thrive contentedly. Psalm 23:1B “Therefore, I Shall not Want.” Question 4: David’s belief that “I shall not be in want (hunger)” depends upon what from David? Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NKJV) 1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out." Psalm 23:2A “He makes me to Lie Down in Green Pastures.” Question 5: How did the Lord MAKE David lie in green pastures? Why would David have to be made to do it? 1. Free of all fear. As long as there is even the slightest suspicion of danger from dogs, coyotes, cougars, bears, or other enemies the sheep stand up ready from flight. Psalm 34:3-7 (ESV) 3Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.5Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 2. Free from Friction. Tension of rivalry, and cruel competition within the flock itself. Less aggressive “bottom” sheep were often far more contented, quiet, and restful. Philippians 2:3 (NASB) 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Romans 12:3 (NASB) For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:16 (NASB) Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation. 3. Free from pests. In the summer bothered by nasal flies, bot flies, warble flies, and ticks. They stamp their legs, shake their heads, push heads in bush for momentary relief. Oil brings healing and comfort and relief from the harsh and abrasive aspects of life. 1 John 2:20-21 (ESV) But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 4. Free from hunger. Green pastures were the result of tremendous labor, time, and skill in land use. Clearing rough, rocky land, tearing out brush, roots, and stumps, deep plowing and careful soil preparation, of seeding and planting special grains, irrigating with water and caring the forage that would feed the flocks. God works to clear the rocks of stony unbelief. How he removes the roots of bitterness. He breaks up the hard, proud human heart that is set like sun-dried clay. Matthew 25:42-45 (ESV) 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' Psalm 23:2B “He Leads Me Beside the Still Waters.” Question 6: David said that the LORD was leading him. What do you suppose he meant, and how can we apply this principle to our everyday lives? When sheep are thirsty they become restless and set out in search of water to satisfy their thirst. If not led to the good water supplies they’ll drink from polluted pot holes where they’ll pick up internal parasites as nematodes, liver flukes or other disease germs. Water for sheep comes from grass dew, deep wells, or spring and streams. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life". Matthew 12:33 (NCV) "If you want good fruit, you must make the tree good. If your tree is not good, it will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it produces". John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Psalm 23:3a “He Restores My Soul.” Question 7: What was going on in David’s soul that he thought it needed to be restored? How did the LORD restore David’s soul? Cast Down Sheep - Old English term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up by itself. Pathetically lying on it back, its feet are in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, wit out success. Shepherds must keep a sharp eye for cast sheep. Buzzards, vultures, dogs, coyotes, and cougars also look for this easy prey. Fat long fleeced sheep are most easily cast. When they lie down in a hollow or ground depression, they may roll and then gravity takes over, so they cast. Gases build up in the rumen and retard the blood’s circulation to their legs. In hot weather, they can die in hours. Unborn lambs perish too. If a shepherd sees a vulture, they run for their cast sheep. Genesis 33:12 (NASB) Then Esau said, "Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you." 13But he said to him, "My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. Luke 15:4-5 (NIV, ©2010) 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Isaiah 53:6 (BBE) We all went wandering like sheep; going every one of us after his desire; and the Lord put on him the punishment of us all. Psalm 119:176 (NIV, ©2010) I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 23:3B “He Leads Me in Paths of Righteousness for His Names Sake.” Question 8:What exactly is a path of righteousness? How can we find and stay on it? Question 9: Why would David say that the LORD’s reputation was at stake based upon the LORD’s keeping David on the righteous path? How could David possibly tie the LORD’s reputation and David's righteous path together? Sheep prefer certain spots, these become well-worn and quickly become infested with parasites. Matthew 6:13 (NET) And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Romans 8: 14 (ESV) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Psalm 1: 6 (NIV, ©2010) For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. Psalm 139:23 -24 (NET) Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path! Psalm 23:4A “Yea, Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death…” Question 10: David said that he walks (present tense) through the valley of the shadow of death? What is the valley of the shadow of death? What do you suppose that David was currently facing? Every mountain has it valleys. It sides are scarred by deep ravines. The best route to the top is through these valleys. They are the gentlest grades, and well watered; however, Water flowing from high Mesa’s created valleys on the pathways to the higher pastors. Had dangers of rampaging floods, predators, or sleet, hail, and snow. John 10:10 -15 (MSG) A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren't used to the sound of it." A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him. "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. I Peter 5: 8 (NET) Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Psalm 23:4B “Your Rod and Staff Comfort Me.” Question 11: How did David deal with problems, opposition, and adversity? What were the purposes of the LORD’s rod and staff? Why did David’s knowledge of them bring him comfort? The enlarged base of the sapling where it truck joins the root is shaped into a smooth, rounded head of hard wood. Rods were applied to hand-guns in the old west. A rod is a weapon. Rods are used to open fleece to check from disease, wounds, or defects. Psalm 91 (NIV, ©2010) 1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 23:5A “You Prepare a Table Before Me in the Presence of my enemies.” Question 12: David said that the LORD prepares (present tense) a table for him in the presence of his enemies. What was the table? How was the LORD preparing it? Why were David’s enemies allowed to watch but not eat? High mountain summer ranges are known as tablelands “mesas”. They are remote and hard to reach. Shepherds check for poisonous weeds, so he’ll plan his grazing program to avoid them, or take drastic steps to eradicate them. He’ll clear out water holes, springs for drinking. He’ll clean out the accumulated debris of leaves, twigs, stones, and soil. John 14 (NIV, ©2010) 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 13 (NIV, ©2010) 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Psalm 23:5B “You Anoint my Head With Oil.” Question 13: What is the purpose of oil being anointed on David’s head? How did the LORD do it and why? Nose flies buzz the sheep’s head, attempting to lay eggs on the damp, mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. If successful, worm-like larvae work into the sheep’s head and burrow into their flesh causing severe inflammation. Sheep will beat their heads against trees, rocks, and brush. Advances stages of infections will lead to blindness. It required repeated applications of oil. Summer is scab-time. Scab is an irritating, and highly contagious disease sheep disease. It is caused by microscopic parasites that spread throughout the flock by direct contact between infected and no-infected animals. Sheep love to love heads for affection. “Get Our Heads Together” comes from this. Grease is abundantly applied on Rams heads to lubricate from head butting battles. Early snows drive the sheep from the tablelands. Psalm 23:5C "My Cup Overflows". Question 14: Why did the LORD choose to overflow David’s cup? What do you think that David was referring to by this? Psalm 1: 2-3 (NIV, ©2010) but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. James 1: 25 (NIV, ©2010) But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Psalm 23:6A “Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me.” Question 15: Why did David say that goodness and love were following him? Why didn’t he say that they walked with him or in front of him but followed up the rear? Where the good shepherds walked the land was left fertile and weed-free. Psalm 84:11 (NIV, ©2010) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. James 1:16-18 (MSG) 16-18So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. Psalm 23:6B “I will dwell in the House of the Lord for Ever.” Question 16: What did David base his belief “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever”. How was David so sure? How can we do so sure? He has taken us from the green pastures and still water of home, up through the mountain passes onto the high tablelands of summer. Fall has come with its storms and rain and sleet that drive the sheep down the foothills and back onto the home ranch for the long, quiet winter. Hebrews 13:5 (NIV, ©2010) Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” A Source: A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller “The Lord is my Shepherd” Psalm 23:1 (NET) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 23:2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 23:3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation. 23:4 Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me. 23:5 You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies. You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full. 23:6 Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life. Psalm 23 (Amplified Bible) 1THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. 2He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. 3He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake. 4Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. 6Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. Psalm 23 (NLT) 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:1 (NET) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 23:2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 23:3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation. 23:4 Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me. 23:5 You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies. You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full. 23:6 Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life. I Peter 2:22 (BBE) Who did no evil, and there was no deceit in his mouth: To sharp words he gave no sharp answer; when he was undergoing pain, no angry word came from his lips; but he put himself into the hands of the judge of righteousness: He took our sins on himself, giving his body to be nailed on the tree, so that we, being dead to sin, might have a new life in righteousness, and by his wounds we have been made well. Because, like sheep, you had gone out of the way; but now you have come back to him who keeps watch over your souls.

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