“The LORD is My Good Shepherd”


Readings: Psalm 23:1-6 (text); John 10:11-16

July 5, 2015 • Download this sermon (PDF)

Dear Congregation of Christ: I was raised in a church where we had annual Vacation Bible Schools. The little children memorized short verses, while the bigger kids memorized passages such as The Apostles’ Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, and Psalm 23. So until today, I can still recite some of the Beatitudes. But I still have the others, including Psalm 23, fully memorized.

Rocky Cliff with Shepherd and Sheep by Jean-Antoine Constantin, 1780 (click image to enlarge)
Rocky Cliff with Shepherd and Sheep by Jean-Antoine Constantin, 1780 (click image to enlarge)

Sadly, this beautiful poetry is known as a funeral psalm. Why? Only because of the line that says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” which later, we will find out, is not the best translation. Psalm 23 is actually a psalm of a believer’s pilgrim life with God from beginning to end. This life is full of both joy in the Lord’s care and difficulties in the face of sufferings and enemies.

This psalm is a psalm of David expressing his trust and confidence in the Lord (Yhwh). The Lord’s providential care for his people is portrayed in two main themes. In verses 1-4, the Lord is a Shepherd leading, providing, and protecting his sheep, while in verses 5-6, he is a gracious Host who serves his people at his supper table as honored guests in his home.

A minister of the Word is commonly called a “pastor,” a Latin word that means a “feeder of sheep,” in short, a shepherd. A “pastor” then is someone who “leads to pasture, to graze, and causes to eat.” In the spiritual sense, a “pastor” is a “spiritual guide,” a “shepherd of souls” (“Online Etymology Dictionary”). Therefore, God is often portrayed in the Bible also as a shepherd.

So our theme today, then, is “The Lord is My Good Shepherd”: first, He Restores My Soul; second, He Comforts Me with His Rod and Staff; and third, He Prepares a Table Before Me.

Read the whole sermon here.