Psalms 23

I want to ask you a question...

How many truly satisfied people do you know?

People can have all the things of this world and not be satisfied.

There was a common man, a naturalist, talking to a great railroad industrialist...

A man of great wealth and influence and this naturalist said to this great man...

"I am richer than you are"...

And the rich man said, "How do you figure that?"

And he said, "You don’t have all you want, but I do....

So I am richer than you."

The Bible says: he that loveth silver will indeed not be satisfied with silver.

But it’s not just money that can’t satisfy.

There is really nothing that can satisfy apart from our Lord.

I heard about a little boy who loved pancakes so much that he sometimes made a glutton of himself over pancakes.

So his mother thought one day she would cure him of that and she said, "John, I am going to fix you all the pancakes you can eat."

He thought that was a she got the griddle out and began to fix pancakes...

And he ate and ate and ate...

Until finally she said, "John, do you want another pancake?"

And he said, "No, mom, I don’t want the ones I’ve already had."

That illustrates what I am talking about.

In our deepest parts, whether it be in the stomach, heart or in the mind...

There are hungers that people are seeking to satisfy that they can never really satisfy.

And even when they think they are satisfied...

That satisfaction is dissatisfaction, just like the pancakes.

What I am trying to say is...

That there is a secret to satisfaction, that is more than a play on words...

And it is found in the 23rd Psalm.

Now there is a danger...

And the danger is that when we get into the 23rd Psalm, we are in such familiar ground...

We say, "oh, I know that."

And the proverb, familiarity breeds contempt, may never be more true.

Because the 23rd Psalm is probably the best known chapter in the Bible.

And it ought to be.

There is no wonder that it has been quoted...

In the nursery school and the battlefield.

It is no wonder that it has been quoted at weddings and funerals.

It is no wonder that it is sweet to a little child and perplexing to a scholar.

You know, it is said of the word of God...

That the word of God is deep enough for the scholar to jump in and swim.

But yet shallow enough that a little child could come and drink without fear of drowning.

That is true of the 23rd Psalm.

We know it by heart:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He maketh me to like down in green pastures,

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He guides me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

You rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of my Lord forever.

A beautiful Psalm.

Today we are going to look at the first verse.

And we probably won’t even touch on all of the truth that is in it.

We could nearly take each word and make a sermon of it.

The Lord – only one – not "A" lord – "The" Lord.

When David wrote this the Egyptians had 360 gods; one for every day of the year.

The Canaanites in whose land the Israelites came to live, they had many gods.

But David knew there was but one God.

We could put the emphasis on the word "Lord".

The eternal...the great sovereign...the one who rules over all.

The Lord is – we could put the emphasis on the word "is".

The Lord is...

The Lord always has been – is.

And the Lord will always be – is.

God is can’t keep your tents straight when you talk about our Lord.

The Lord is my – we could talk about the personal relationship with my shepherd.

We could talk about the word "shepherd" and talk about how he is responsible for the care of every sheep.

But today we are going to try to find the secret of satisfaction.

Look at the first phrase: "the Lord".

And think about our sovereign Lord.

Now notice that the word "Lord" is in all capital letters.

The reason for that is to let us know that this is a translation of an OT name for God...

That was the most sacred name for God, which is Jehovah.

Every time you see the word LORD in all caps it means Jehovah.

Jehovah is my shepherd.

Jehovah is a self-existing name.

It means the one who never had a beginning...

The one who never has an ending...

The great "I am" – Jehovah.

Some Bible scholars say that the name Jehovah was so sacred that it was only pronounced one time a year.

And that was when the high priest would go into the holy of holies and whisper the name "Jehovah".

The Jews hardly ever spoke that name audibly.

When a Jewish scribe was writing and would come to the word "Jehovah"...

He would put down that pen and get a new pen just to write the name "Jehovah".

The great covenant-keeping God...

The self-existing one...

The great "I am" – the Lord – the Lord.

The Lord is my shepherd...

Now you have to understand what David is saying.

When he is saying "Jehovah, the great one, is my shepherd".

As we look at verse 1 we see the sovereign God Jehovah.

The great, great, great I am.

The one who rules the universe.

Now look at what David is saying.

The great Jehovah is my shepherd.

Now we move from the sovereign to the shepherd.

Learn this: that the Jehovah of the OT is the Jesus of the NT.

When we say Jehovah, we speak of his deity.

But when we say shepherd, we speak of his humanity.

In John 10, Jesus unlocked the mystery of the 23rd Psalm.

When he said, "I am the good shepherd."

You want to know who David was talking about?

I am the good shepherd...

The sovereign, the shepherd...

His deity, his humanity.

Here is the wonderful thing about the Lord Jesus...we have sovereignty and simplicity.

A king and a shepherd.

Sovereignty and simplicity.

A God who is able...

A shepherd who is available.

A God in the heavens...

A shepherd in our hearts.

The Lord Jehovah is my shepherd.

Three times in the NT the Lord Jesus is described as a shepherd.

First he is described as the good shepherd in John 10:11.

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd layeth down his life for his sheep.

Now any shepherd may lose his life for the sheep.

But that is not what Jesus said.

Jesus said, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Did you know that there has only been one person who chose to die?

You say, "No, suicide pilots choose to die."

"Other people choose to die."

"People who die by their own hand choose to die."

"People who give their lives for others choose to die."

No one has ever chosen to die but Jesus.

Because he was the only one who didn’t have to die.

All of the rest of us are going to die sooner or later.

Some just choose to do it a little sooner.

But nobody has chosen to die but one!

And that was Jesus who laid down his life for the sheep.

He said, "No man taketh my life from me, no man can do it, I lay it down."

It wasn’t nails that held him to that cross, it was the silver cords of love.

And the golden bonds of redemption that held Jesus to that cross.

Now we have often heard of sheep dying for the shepherd when he wants food.

But whoever heard of the shepherd dying for the sheep?

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd that lays down his life for the sheep."

You say it’s unthinkable that a shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep.

But friend, it’s more unthinkable that God would die for man.

As the good shepherd, as he laid down his life for the sheep...

He dealt with the penalty of sin.

Because the wages of sin is death, and that is what Jesus Christ paid.

And your sin will be pardoned in Christ or punished in hell, but it will never be overlooked.

Unless there is a good shepherd who has died for your sin.

You my friend will have to face the wrath of an angry God at the judgment....

With your sins unatoned.

Now not only is he shown in the Bible in John 10 as the good shepherd.

But also in the Bible he is shown as the great shepherd.

Look in Hebrews 13:20-21:

(Verse 20) May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep...

(Verse 21) Equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.

Now in John 10, he is called the good shepherd, and he died for the sheep.

But also he is called in Hebrews 13 the great shepherd, he rose for the sheep.

Listen, now it speaks of the resurrection.

(Verse 20) The God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant, brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep.

Now what good is a dead shepherd?

He is no good at all.

Except that he pays the penalty for the sheep’s sin.

All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Yes he carried our sins to the cross; therefore he took care of the penalty of sin.

But when he rose from the dead...

He now deals with the power of sin.

He not only is the good shepherd...he had to be good to die for our sins...

But he is also the great shepherd...

He rose from the dead.

And that makes him the great shepherd and now he is able to lead us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Not just that he died for me...

But friend, he lives for me – that deals with the power of sin.

But he is also called the chief shepherd.

In I Peter 5:4: And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

There you have the ministry of our Lord.

As the good shepherd – he had to be good to do it – he died for our sins.

As the great shepherd – he had to be great to do it – he rose from the dead.

As the chief shepherd – one day he is coming to take us out.

The more I look around, the more I read the papers and listen to the news...

The more I believe it must be soon.

I believe the chief shepherd is about to appear.

I believe he is about to call his sheep upward.

Now I told you we were going to talk about the secret of satisfaction.

And that is what this verse is all about.

And this verse is the key to the chapter.

Every passage of scripture has a key to understand it.

In Psalm 23 the key is verse 1.

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.

You have the sovereign – that’s Jehovah...

You have the shepherd – that’s Jesus...

Jesus is the Jehovah shepherd of our lives, and that, my friend...

The sovereign and the shepherd leads to the satisfaction.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

That’s the only way anyone will ever have satisfaction.

You will never, ever – have one iota of satisfaction until you can say it and mean it:

The Lord is my shepherd.

It’s only when you know that, that you will ever be able to say, "I shall not want."

So many people think that the secret to satisfaction is having a God who can give you everything.

That is not the secret of satisfaction.

The secret of satisfaction is the Lord himself.

Jehovah is my shepherd.

You see, your needs will never be met until they are met in him.

Things will never satisfy you.

Too many people misunderstand Psalm 37.

Which says: delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

They think that means if I love Jesus, I can have a pink Cadillac.

That is not what that means.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart.

What that means is...

When you delight in the Lord the deepest needs in your heart will be met.

The desire of your heart is Jesus.

That is what your heart yearns for...

That’s what you were made for – for him.

It is in HIM that we live and move and have our being.

You will never be satisfied apart from him.

Until you can say: The Lord is MY shepherd.

Now what he gives me – but he himself.

What did God make a fish to do?

To swim in the sea.

What did God make a bird to do?

To fly in the sky.

Now you take a fish out of the sea and put him in a tree and he’ll be an unhappy fish.

You take a bird out of the sky and put him in the sea and he’ll be an unhappy bird.

Because both are out of their element.

Now what is the element that you were created for?

God himself.

And until you know him you will be like a fish in a tree or a bird in the sea.

You will be out of your element.

You will be like a square peg in a round hole.

Friends all around me are trying to find what the heart yearns for.

By sin under mind, I have the secret.

I know when it is found, only true pleasures in Jesus abound, Jesus is all this world needs today...

Blindly men strive for sin darkens their way, oh to pull back the grim curtains of night...

One look at Jesus and all will be light.

When a man can say it and mean it...

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Now let me show you what David did.

Took this sacred name, Jehovah...

And he welded it into another name.

Jehovah, my shepherd.

The Hebrew says: Jehovah Raha...

That’s one of the names of God (Psalms 23:1)

Did you know there are seven times in the Bible when the word "Jehovah" is joined to another word to make a new name for God?

Let me give them to you, they will bless you.

#1 – Psalms 23 – Jehovah Raha – Jehovah my shepherd.

#2 – Genesis 22 – Jehovah Jaira – The Lord my provider.

The Lord will provide.

#3 – Jehovah Rapha – the Lord will heal.

#4 – Exodus 15 – Jehovah Shalom – Shalom means peace.

The Lord our peace.

#5 – Jehovah Setconue – the Lord our righteous.

#6 – Ezekiel 48 gives Jehovah Shamma – the Lord ever present.

Then #7 – Exodus 17 – Jehovah Missie – the Lord our banner.

Now those are seven names for deity.

Are you ready for a blessing?

When you hear this maybe you can understand what David said when he said, "The Lord is my shepherd."

Listen to this:

The Lord is my shepherd – who is that?

That’s Jehovah Raha – Jehovah shepherd.

I shall not want – who is that?

Jehovah Jaira – the Lord will provide.

He restoreth my soul – who is that?

Jehovah Raffa – the Lord that heals.

He leads me beside the still waters, he makes me to lie down in green pastures – who is that?

Jehovah Shalom – my peace.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake – who is that/

Jehovah Setconue – the Lord our righteousness.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies -–who is that?

My friend, that is Jehovah Missie – the Lord our banner.

When the enemy shall come in like a flood, then the Lord shall hold up a banner before him.

I will fear no evil for thou art with me – who is that?

Jehovah Shamma – the Lord ever-present.

What he was saying was – the Lord was my shepherd.

Not the things that he gives me.

The things he gives me are only a representation of who the Lord is himself.


Is the Lord your shepherd?

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Well I will give you a clue as to how you can find out.

Do you really want to know if the Lord is your shepherd or not?

Here is how.

Is the shepherd your lord?

That’s the way.

You see, the only way that you can say the Lord is my shepherd...

Is for you to be able to say the shepherd is my Lord.

Not everyone can just stand up and quote the 23rd Psalm and claim it for their own.

Look over in John 10, and I’ll explain what I am talking about.

In John 10, the Lord Jesus is talking to the unsaved Pharisees.

Look in verse 26: but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

Now there are some unbelievers that are not part of the sheep.

If you are not part of the sheep, it is impossible for you to say, "The Lord is my shepherd."

If you are one of Satan’s goats.

Notice the description of the person who can say, "The Lord is my shepherd."

(Verse 27) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

When you say, "my shepherd"...

The shepherd says, "my sheep".

And a sheep is someone who hears his voice...

Someone he knows...

Someone that follows him.

Have you heard his voice?

Have you received him as your personal Savior and Lord?

You see, it is a personal relationship with the shepherd.

My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.

But not only is it a personal relationship...

It is a permanent relationship.

Look in verse 28: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

Any earthly shepherd is going to lose some sheep.

But the good Shepherd has never lost one.

Never lost a sheep.

I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.

You say, "Pastor, do you believe in eternal security of the believer?"

I do – "Why do you believe in eternal security of the believer?"

I believe in the eternal security of the believer because of John 10:28.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

You are looking at a man that can’t die.

You say, "Oh yes you can."

No, it’s impossible for me to die.

Jesus said, he that believeth and liveth in me shall never die.

You say, "Well what if you die?"

If I do, I won’t be dead.

All I will have done will be to move out.

Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me, and I give them eternal life."

How long is eternal?

It never ends.

These people who believe you can get saved and then lose it...

Suppose I were saved for 10 years and then lost it.

What kind of life did Jesus give me?

A 10-year life.

If I had it 50 years and then lost it.

I had a 50-year life.

Friend, whatever it was, if it’s eternal and you lose it, it wasn’t eternal life.

Whatever it is, if you lost it, it wasn’t eternal.

But Jesus didn’t say, "I might give them".

He said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish."

It’s a personal relationship.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

It is a permanent relationship.

And the reason is it is permanent, because it is protected.

Look at verse 29: My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

Friend, when you get saved, you come into the hand of an almighty God!

Jehovah is my shepherd.

Do you think that shepherd is going to lose a sheep?

He can’t – I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

Friend, if you get it by works, you can keep it by works.

But if you got it by grace, you are kept by grace.

We are saved by the grace of God.

I give them – I give them – I give them eternal life.

A little girl misquoted the 23rd Psalm, but I believe she had i just right.

When she said: The Lord is my shepherd, I get all I want.

That is the secret to satisfaction – it is Jehovah the Lord – he is my shepherd, I shall not want in him.

In him, the shepherd, are the wellsprings of my heart’s desire.

The Lord, my friend, is the good shepherd.

He lay down his life for the sheep.

He died for you.

The Lord – is the great shepherd.

He rose from the dead to guide you.

When you give your heart to Jesus...

He doesn’t just say, "All right, sink or swim."

He comes to lead you in the paths of righteousness, to guide and keep you.

He is the chief shepherd – he is coming soon...

You need to be ready.

Would you pray a prayer like this and invite him into your heart?

Just speak to him.

Dear God, I know you love me, I know you want to save me.

Jesus, I was like a sheep going astray, but you died for me, you paid my sin debt.

Thank you Lord Jesus, for paying my sin debt.

I believe you were raised from the dead, the Son of God with power.

And you are able to lead me down the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.

Come into my heart right now and make me the person you want me to be, amen.