Psalm 23 is probably the simplest, most precise outline of the life of man in the Bible. Vs. 1 gives the beginning of true life and v6 gives the end of physical life and the continuing of life eternal. Life really starts when one is saved and the LORD becomes “my shepherd.” If you are not saved, the LORD is not your Shepherd and your end is to perish and be banished from God’s presence forever. For those of us who are saved, as Sheep, with our Shepherd, we shall “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” The beginning is in v1 and the end in v6, with all of life and living in between. Galatians 2:20 describes life in a simple way… “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The life I now live is not the same as what I lived before being saved. That is why Paul said, “I am crucified.” His old life was dead and he is a “New Creature” as we see in 2 Cor. 5:17. Now let me show you life from start to finish.
1. We look up in faith to the Shepherd, the one who will lead us through the rest of the journey. V1. Folks, we cannot make it through this life safely without the Great Shepherd of the Sheep guiding us. See John 10
2.During the journey, He will make us lie down in green pastures. V2. This refers to pleasant places, tender places, home. We first look up and then we lie down.
3. We are led beside still waters. Still waters speak of peace, peaceful surroundings. To sheep still waters are calming and assuring. It is speaking of peaceful satisfaction, not from the polluted waters of the world that give disease, parasites and sickness. (Spiritual)
4. We are led in paths of righteousness. V3 Sheep are prone to take the wrong paths, sometimes the easy paths which are more dangerous. The Shepherd does not pick the easy paths…He leads in the righteous paths! It is easier to pick the well-worn paths, but less safe. Notice the word “led” meaning the Shepherd leads us rather than drives us. It is our choice to either follow (John 10), or go on in a dangerous and sinful way.
5. We will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet He will go with us and comfort us. V4. There is no hurry here and no worry here…we walk.
6. We are comforted by the Rod and the Staff. V.4 These two symbolize the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God. The personal touch of God is comforting to us as we make our journey day by day through life.
7. We feast in the enemies presence. V5. It is obvious to the world that we are Sheep of His pasture. They see God provide for His own.
8. We are followed by Goodness and Mercy. V6. Notice “surely” and “follow me.” We need this promise during and after the trials of life, the disappointments, failures, separations and tragedies of life. The Great Shepherd is constantly caring for and watching over His sheep…and the only time we are out of His protection is when we leave the paths of righteousness! This is our choice and our cost is losing His blessing on our lives.
9. Finally, at the finish, we find ourselves dwelling in the house of the LORD forever. What a glorious thought. It makes life and all it involves worth it all… The Journey ends and life eternal begins and never ends.
Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? Is He your Shepherd? In order to start life right, and continue it right, and finish it right, Jesus has to be your own personal Lord and Saviour. John 14:1-6