We are currently in a preaching series in Psalm 23. Psalm 23 has been described as: “The Psalm of Psalms”, “The pearl of Psalms”; “A jewel of pure gold among the many jewels of Scripture”, “The nightingale of the Psalms” – as the weeks go by we can add our own descriptions to this Psalm.
These are some of the lessons I am learning as I preach through the Psalm:
We must not neglect “famous” passages of Scripture
We can neglect to study Psalm 23 because we think we know it so well. Perhaps we have just assumed we know it well. Perhaps the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” has permeated our lives more than we realise.
Os Guinness, in a book I read some years ago said that the first step towards compromise in the church is: assumption! When we assume we know some truth of Scripture, we no longer investigate those sections of Scripture. The next generation never knows why we believe what we believe because of that assumption. Guinness says that it is a slippery slope from: assumption to abandonment to adaptation and finally assimilation and into compromise.
We need to revisit the beauty of “famous” texts so we can enjoy again why they became “famous” in the first place. What a joy to experience right here in Sandton, South Africa, in 2019 why Psalm 23 has sustained, comforted and encouraged God’s sheep down through the ages.
We must slow down when we read Scripture to experience Christ!
A lady came up after a recent sermon in Psalm 23 and said, “I am so grateful we are only doing one verse per week. I think that covering one verse has been just enough for me to handle, remember and take out into each week.”
Often our Bible reading can just mirror our high speed bandwidth culture of information overload and superficial reading. Psalm 23 lends itself to slowing down and reflecting on each word and causal relationship in the text. Mining the depths of Psalm 23 involves understanding the background and context; applying it to our lives takes consistent work and time. Only when you slow down do you see truths that you would normally miss. Meditating is learning to “lie down in green pastures” and digesting God’s Word so it reshapes our hearts and lives! You may know Psalm 23, but do you know the Shepherd of Psalm 23?
Applying God’s Word in daily life is hard!
Knowing the Psalm is easy, but knowing its reality is hard! Seeing evil and feeling afraid comes easily to sheep, but allowing the nearness of the Shepherd to overshadow your skittishness is hard!
In the week following the sermon on Psalm 23:2 we had a week of loadshedding and traffic jams. It took me 3 hours one day to drop kids at school, get to work and home again. It was hard for me, the preacher to practice what I had just preached and to “lie down in the traffic” even as our city clawed their way to work.
Some of you have shared how God has used the first few verses to expose secret sin and to begin a process of restoration. Other have shared how your Shepherd has been sustaining you in very difficult times. Applying God’s Word is hard, but despite our weakness as sheep, in Christ we have a great Shepherd who is leading us!
Oh Lord may this truth reshape our reality! “The Lord is my shepherd!” Amen!