- Sermon Notes
With You Always
Psalm 23, Pt. 2
Illus. Hold on.
This morning we are going to continue in Psalm 23 which centers on our shepherd who leads, guides and provides a way, even when there seems to be no way.
Who carries the weight when burden is great, and is with you no matter the difficulty, valley, or issue. As we discussed last week, this Psalm represents
real life and brings about a powerful picture of what you and I face, who God is, what He does, all the while, directing our attention to the reality,
that He is with us always.
Read: Psalm 23:1-6
This Psalm starts out with David referring to the Lord as His Shepherd. A shepherd is the name or title given to a person who herds, tends, and guards sheep. And it ends pointing those in Christ, those who are the sheep of His pasture to the promise of life in Him, both today and forever.
Psalm 100:3, Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
In verses one to three, we see the Lord as shepherd, guiding to green pastures, still waters, restoring, and leading down the path. Beautiful truth and imagery, but one might wonder, what about in difficulty? What about when the issues of life are mounting up? In the dark of night, when I cannot see which way to go? When the wind is strong, when the water is deep?
As the scene changes from the green pastures and the quiet still waters, to the valley, David powerfully proclaims that even there, the Lord is present.Difficulty, darkness, confusion, question, sickness, and sadness represent just a few of the many valleys we might face in this life, and this morning I want to remind you that for those in Christ, no matter the valley you might be walking through this morning, He is with you.
I.Look for the Lord in the Valley
Psalm 23:4, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.
- In verses one to three, David wrote about the Lord his shepherd. And in verse four a change, from the impersonal to the personal. A turn from merely talking about the Lord, into talking to the Lord personally.
- David started out: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes, He leads, He restores, He guides, for His namesake.
- And in verse 4, it changes: though I walk through the valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod, your staff, you prepare, you anoint, my cup overflows.
- As the scene moves to the valley, so David moves from He and me, to I and you.
- There is something about the valley that changes who God is to us. There is something about the valley that produces a deepening, a greater level of intimacy, a deeper determination that the Lord is the only One who can help, the only way out, and a turning from the impersonal, to the personal.
- Something shifts from merely who He is, to who He is to me personally.
- David wrote, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear not evil for you are with me…
- Other translations (HCSB, NIV, NLT), render it “even though I walk through the darkest valley.”
- The Hebrew word there is defined as deep shadow, deep darkness, death-shadow, distress, danger.
- Verse 4 changes after the green grass and quiet waters, and it begs the question, what happened? Real life.
- It is a sudden change, a sudden shift, but what remains is that the Lord is still there.
- It is often in leading sheep to new pastures, that the sheep are led through valleys. They head into deep ravines or dark valleys. And just as valleys are a part of the natural landscape on earth, so to, they are a part of the landscape in life.
Illus. The Lord of the valleys.
1 Kings 20:28, Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Arameans have said, “The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”
- The Bible speaks of valleys in terms of difficulties. Yet in the midst of them, a reminder that the Lord is not absent, but with you in them.
- Press through, He is with you
- Though valleys and the trouble therein bring vivid color to calamity, they are not the place God’s people are left in, the valley is not the end.
- Be reminded as you walk through the valley, that the Lord is not merely the Lord the mountaintops, but He is the Lord of the valleys, and will be the Lord in your valley, look for Him there.
James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- As it is for the sheep, sometimes it is similar for you and I, when the darkest valleys are the pathways to the greenest pastures.
- Remember however, that David did not write, though I walk to the valley, rather, though I walk through the valley.
- I other words, the valley is not the destination. It is not a dead end.
- Even our modern mountain highways follow the valleys to reach the summit and get to higher ground and over the mountain.
- And there are times in your life where the Lord will lead you upward through a valley in your life.
Matthew 28:20, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
- Choose faith over fear, because He is with you.
- Phillip Keller, “nothing so quieted and reassured a sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector put them as ease as nothing else could do.” – A shepherd looks at Psalm 23
Illus. Stay Close.
- David recognized that even in the shepherds and leading, he may go through the valley of the shadow of death, but that shadow is just a shadow of death, not the substance of it.
- And if your eyes remain on Jesus, your Great Shepherd, then you know that the deepest darkness, the shadow of death, is only a shadow.
Quote, C.H. Spurgeon.
- He is talking about the reality that Jesus by His death, burial, and resurrection has conquered death.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:37-39, In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- The question then comes, who has the final say in your valley? In darkness, difficulty? Who is leading, guiding and guarding?
John 10:11;14, I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, I know my own, and my own know me.
Psalm 23:4, Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- The rod and staff of the shepherd bring comfort to the sheep.
- The rod was a club or stick the shepherd would wear at his belt to fight off attacking animals.
- The staff was a long walking stick, with a hook or at one end.The staff was used to guide and pull back in straying sheep.
- The rod was for protecting, and the staff for directing.
- Find comfort in the fact that even in the dark of the valley, the Lord is protecting and directing. Those are the essential tools for the shepherd and the essential characteristics of a good shepherd.
Deuteronomy 31:8, The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
John 10:7-10, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
- When He is your shepherd, He is the door, guiding, guarding, protecting…Even in the dark of night.
- Pursue the place He prepares
Psalm 23:5, You prepare a table before me in the present of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
- The picture being given is of a table prepared by the Lord in the midst of David being completely surrounded in the presence of His enemies.
- Without moving on from picture of the darkest valley, David recognizes the great provision and goodness of the Lord, even though there is difficulty, even in the presence of those against him.
- The table prepared speaks of what the Lord’s provision, His care, His awareness, His power to protect, and His desire for personal connection with you when you are surrounded.
- His care, concern and connection do not eliminate the presence of enemies or difficulties on this earth, nor do they eliminate His presence and provision.
- Are you pursuing what He has prepared?
Illus. Get what you can while you can.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
- The Lord prepares a table in the presence of all that is going on, are you aware of what He has prepared and is preparing?
- He anoints your head with oil, in that day speaking of refreshing, there was also a scent in the oil that made the guest smell pleasant. Oil is also a picture of the Holy Spirit…The helper!
Psalm 23:6, Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- Goodness and lovingkindness, which is a term also translated “mercy.”
- The goodness and lovingkindness of God will follow you all the days of your life.
- Goodness, all that is good and right.
- Lovingkindness, mercy, covenant faithfulness…
- God’s goodness and commitment to you will follow you all the days of your life.
- What does that mean follow you all the days of your life, it means they are present in your life for all of your days.
- His goodness and mercy will be present in your life as long as life lasts. And…You will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- If He is your shepherd, you will dwell in His house forever.
- For those in Christ, it is the reality of your life, the end point of your pursuit, and the destination of your journey.
John 14:1-3, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.