THIS LAMB WANDERED TOO CLOSE TO THE RAGING RIVER
AND SLIPPED IN, HELPLESS TO SAVE HIMSELF
TWO YOUNG NORWEGIAN MEN RISKED THEIR LIVES
OUR SHEPHERD NOT ONLY RISKED HIS LIFE,
BUT LAID DOWN HIS LIFE,
TO BRING US TO SAFETY.
JESHUA IN HEBREW MEANS “RESCUE” OR “SAFETY”
JESHUA IS JESUS
THE LORD JESUS IS OUR SHEPHERD,
AND NOTHING: NOT MAN, NOT DEATH, NOR ANY OTHER THING
CAN PLUCK US FROM HIS HAND.
OUR OWN WANDA TELLS THIS STORY:
My dad died at age 70 of pancreatic cancer. He was still young and had been healthy until the diagnosis. Surgery gave him one year with us. He was alert, active, aware and at home through that year. When the cancer returned after almost a year following surgery……he declined rapidly. My parents’ bedroom had 2 antique paintings hanging in it: one from each of their childhood homes. The painting of Jesus the Good Shepherd hung next to Dad’s side of the bed. One day, when he was in his last week, my brother asked him if he was experiencing any fear of death. His answer was: “Oh sometimes Satan comes and tempts me with fear….but I just look over at that painting and I know that I am the lamb in the Shepherd’s arms.”
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. What experience or memories do you have in association with the 23rd Psalm?
MONDAY: BIBLE STUDY
My own mother didn’t put her trust in Christ until she was 93, but she had always loved the 23rd Psalm, and I was thrilled when she read and loved Philip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. This is a classic worth having — UNDER $4 from Amazon or Wal-mart — and also available on audio at www.audible.com. If you read or listen to this short classic, please share what stands out to you from it during the week — I know you will have more insight into the verses. I’d like to share just one that I received and how it is helping me.
One of the biggest annoyances that can even become fatal to a sheep are flies. If they get in a sheep’s nose or in a sheep’s open wound, they can drive a sheep crazy, causing him to pound his head against rocks. But when the shepherd anoints him with oil, the flies do not bother him, and his wounds are healed.The flies in our life are hurts inflicted by others, the temptations of the enemy, and the difficulties of life. When that happens instead of going crazy, we need to ask our Good Shepherd who knows us by name (a shepherd can pick his sheep out of thousands) to anoint us with His Spirit, His oil, to calm us.
So when I begin to feel anxious about something, or hurt, I stand still and ask the Lord to anoint me with the oil of His Spirit, to reassure me of His love and care, to remind me that He is bigger than all of this, He is in control, and the He knows my name and loves me so. I can rest in Him and allow Him to heal my sores. We can also pray this for others. I might pray, “Lord, You know the injustice Renee faces at work, I pray she will stand still and rest in You, allow You to anoint her with oil, and remind her that You are bigger than this.” Diane is leaving us for a season because of so much stress in her life — and we can pray this for her as well.
Songs to Prepare Your Heart Before Study
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3. Read Psalm 23 in its entirety and find a verse that quickens you and explain why.
4. Meditate on the first phrase of the psalm: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
A. What do you see in each of the underlined words (my underlining)?
B. Derek Kidner says the rest of the psalm all flows from this verse. Why, do you think?
C. Do you truly believe He sees you like this, cares for you like this? Take this verse and pray it — either thanking Him for the assurance you feel or asking Him to make this assurance drop to your heart.
5. Meditate on verse 2.
A. What does this say?
B. What does this mean?
C. How has the Lord provided for your needs?
6. Meditate on verse 3.
A. Derek Kidner says that the same verb for “restore” appears in Psalm 60:1. Compare — what insight does this give you for what this verse means?
You may remember Mike Reeves’ emphasis on moving into the Messianic section after Psalm 19, to the emphasis on the One promised in Genesis 3 to rescue us, not just from trouble, but from sin. Psalm 23 is much more than just a comforting psalm about Jesus as our Shepherd, but indeed, Jesus as the One who can restore our souls.
B. Think of a recent time when the Lord helped you repent and then led you in the right way, in His paths of righteousness.
C. Read Ezekiel 36:22-27 to fully understand what leading us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake means. Contemplate and then share.
7. Meditate on verse 4.
A. While “valley of death” can refer to other deep times of need other than death, it is so comforting to think of this in terms of our final need. Have you a story of how God helped one you love through this valley? (I have told mine in The God of All Comfort.)
B. Derek Kidner points out that the phrase “you are with me” is very personal — the more distant “He” is replaced with “you,” and instead of leading, He is not alongside — with. What does it mean to you that Jesus will be with you at the point of death?
When I went through grief counseling after Steve died, I told the counselor I would never remarry, for one reason (and I have many) was that I didn’t want to cross the river to Steve with someone else with me. She said, “Dee — we all cross the river alone.” I remember feeling chilled — about crossing the river alone! But now I see I won’t be alone — Jesus will be with me, at my side — not ahead, but right with me through the valley of death.
C. What is the purpose of the rod? The staff? (Do a little research!) What does this mean in your life?
8. Meditate on verse 5
A. What does this verse say the Lord will do? What does this mean?
B. What does the image of “my cup overflows” mean?
9. Meditate on verse 6
A. The word mercy is the Hebrew word “hesed,” which combines the concept of “unfailing” with “kindness.” Perhaps the most famous place it is used is in Lamentations 3:22-23. Look this up and comment on what it means to you.
B. In praise the the Lord, share some ways “your cup” overflows, some ways His “steadfast mercy” has been with you all the days of your life.
Spurgeon is classic on the psalms — you can either read his sermon or listen to it. Read or listen and share what stands out to you and comment. This would also be a time, if you haven’t already, to share what you learned if you read or listened to Philip Keller’s book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.
Read this (LINK)