Are You Satisfied With Your Share?
Reading Psalm 23v1: Part 1.
Preacher Ken Humphries
The story is told of a farmer who had lived on the same farm all his life. It was a good farm, but with the passing years, the farmer began to tire of it. He longed for a change--for something "better." Every day he found a new reason for criticizing some feature of the old place. Finally, he decided to sell, and listed the farm with a real estate broker who promptly prepared a sales advertisement. As one might expect, it emphasized all the farm's advantages: ideal location, modern equipment, healthy stock, acres of fertile ground, etc. Before placing the ad in the newspaper, the realtor called the farmer and read the copy to him for his approval. When he had finished, the farmer cried out, "Hold everything! I've changed my mind. I am not going to sell. I've been looking for a place like that all my life."
James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 123.
Cecil Rhodes, I guess one of the wealthiest men of his day, as a young man emigrated to South Africa. He was a very clever man and a very hard worker. In fact it was Rhodes who discovered the great diamond mines of that country and at a later date the gold mines. You may remember, his legacy to his homeland, Great Britain, was North and South Rhodesia, as it was known then, known today as Zimbabwe.
One of the richest men in the world of that day, Cecil Rhodes, and one of the poorest men in the world of that day, General William Booth of the Salvation Army were travelling by train together. They had been silent for quite some time in their journey when William Booth suddenly turned to Cecil Rhodes and said, "Tell me Rhodes, are you a happy man?" "Happy, Happy," said Rhodes, "Why of course not man, how could I possibly be happy with all the responsibility of such great wealth?"
Now beloved, therein lies a great danger for the sheep of God's pasture. In this wonderful Psalm we have a mountain of wealth from which we may draw at any time. But here's my point! Do we enjoy that mountain of wealth or do we see it as some great weighty responsibility resting on our shoulders from which we draw no joy and no blessing.
The proverb, familiarity breeds contempt may never be truer than right here. This Psalm which is often quoted in the nursery to the baby, at the wedding to the happy couple, on the battle-field to the wounded soldier, at the funeral service of a loved one to whom we are saying our last fond farewells and to one who is hurting deeply in the difficulties and perplexities of life. This Psalm, which early in life becomes the best-known portion of Scripture to the children and yet presents deep perplexities to the scholars. A Psalm so deep that the theological student can dive into and never hit bottom yet shallow enough for children to drink from and be in no fear of drowning. This Psalm is such a mountain of wealth; often we cannot see the wonder that God has provided for us as the sheep of his pasture. Are we satisfied with our share?
Let’s unpack then, this simple Psalm, or dig into its depths, or simply open it up for a clearer understanding as to the great legacy God has left us.
1. Think About the Mystery of the Sovereign! v1 The Lord:
Please notice the word "Lord" should be printed in capitals. That is to convey to us, this is the most sacred name for deity the Jews ever had. "Jehovah!"
Immediately this should stir a question in our hearts and minds. Do we truly understand this one David calls Jehovah? If this is the most sacred name the Jews had for God then it must be of great importance in its using here. Some scholars tell us it was only used once a year when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and he would then in his exercises of worship do no more that whisper that Holy name. "Jehovah"! Why? Because he is the Sovereign God and as such demands and desires our very best exercises of worship and praise.
Hebrew scribes when writing the name Jehovah would always take a new quill or pen and then never use it again. The name was so stirringly sacred they spoke or wrote that name in the most reference of terms.
Angeles Martinis penned this.
The Lord, the one who made the world and everything in it, the one who lit the taper of the sun and put the stars in their place.
That's my Sovereign!
The one who threw a carpet of green grass upon the earth, and tacked it down with flowers. The one who scooped up the valleys and piled up the hills. That's my Sovereign!
The one who took the song of the seraph and robed it with feathers and gave it to the nightingale. The one who took the rainbow and wove it into a scarf and threw it about the shoulders of a dying storm.
That's my Sovereign!
The one who at evening rolls down the nightshade and shoots it through with sunset fire. That's my Sovereign!
Jehovah, the great I am. Without beginning and without ending!
Who is the Psalmist talking about?
A. Jehovah-Raah: The Lord our Shepherd! Psalm 23.
B. Jevovah-Jireh: The Lord who provides! Gen. 22v14.
C. Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord who gives peace! Judges 6v24.
D. Jevohah-Ropheka: The Lord who heals! Exod.15v26.
E. Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness! Jer.23v6 + 33v16.
F. Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord who is ever present! Ezek.48v35.
G. Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord our Banner! Exod.17 v 15.
H. Jevohah-Me-kaddish-kem: The Lord who sanctifies. Exod.31 v 13.
By the way, all these titles are hidden in Psalm 23: Look at them!
The Lord is my shepherd: Who is that? That is Jehovah-Raah!
Always shepherding me!
I shall not want: Who is that? That is Jehovah-Jireh!
The Lord my Provider!
He Restoreth my Soul: Who is that? That is Jehovah Ropheka!
The Lord who heals!
He leadeth me beside Still Waters; He maketh me to lie down in Green Pastures? Who is that? That is Jehovah-Shalom!
The Lord my Peace!
He leads me in paths of Righteousness: Who is that? That is Jehovah-Tsidkenu! The Lord our Righteousness!
I will fear no evil for thy rod and staff they comfort me: Who is that?
That is Jehovah-Shammah! The Lord ever Present!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Who is that? That is Jehovah-Nissi! The Lord our banner!
When the enemy shall come like a flood, then shall the Lord lift up a banner before him.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever: Who is that? That is the Jehovah-Me-kaddish-kem! The Lord is our Sanctifier!
He is the one who prepares us for our eternal home.
The idea of the Psalm beginning with "The Lord" is in order that we will get focused on Him and not on the things He gives, allowing Him to have that complete control he desires.
In Japan, fishermen just after dark set sail on the rivers. Fire burns brightly in the cages they have hanging from the prow of each boat. These fires attract the great fish to the surface. Each master fisherman has on strings about twelve birds called cormorants; the strings are attached to metal rings, which are placed around the cormorants’ necks. The cormorant thrusts his bill into the water and scoops up a large fish which goes down his long neck only until it comes to the ring, the master fisherman then draws the bird back to the boat, the bird disgorges the fish and in turn is fed a smaller one which he can easily swallow, he then dives into the water to catch another fish. It’s amazing to watch the master fisherman handle all those birds at one time and never get a tangle in the lines.
Beloved, the ever-true Christian is attached to the Sovereign God through the Lord Jesus Christ and if we allow Him to pull our strings we will never get knotted up about anything. We get so tied up in knots these days about the slightest thing. Do you know what that says, it’s not the Sovereign Shepherd who is pulling our strings but ourselves, and it’s no wonder we get into such a state at times.
God Almighty, reserves to himself the sole right of instructing us, and to prevent our solving the difficulties of our own being, has hid the knot so high, or, to speak more properly, so low, that we cannot reach it.
I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied that, had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or at least it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. John Newton.
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which knows me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time been allotted to me? Why, it’s all in the plan of my Sovereign Shepherd, praise His glorious name. You can do what you like to me, you can say what you like about me, you can make my life a hell upon earth but do you know what? It will not alter God's plan for me for eternity one little jot or tittle, praise his glorious name.
The first three chapters of Daniel are wonderfully biographical and set before us the basic principles for living for God on planet earth even in the midst of a people who literally hate you.
A. Their Walk Challenged: Daniel Ch.1. The King's Meat!
B. Their Witness Challenged: Daniel Ch.2. The King's Dream!
C. Their Worship Challenged: Daniel Ch.3. The King's Image!
Here’s the bottom line folk, if Satan can persuade us to give in along any one of these three lines he can neutralize our effectiveness for God. Believe it!
The first move Satan made was to get the names of Daniel and his three friends changed. Their Hebrew names had endings that called to mind the names of Jehovah that continually reminded them whose they were and whom they served. Their pagan names on the other hand associated them with heathen deities. It was a deliberate attempt to get them to abandon their faith and adopt, in its place the religion of the heathen amongst whom they now dwelt.
Listen folks! Listen! If in some way, any way, the Devil can get us to live like him in word, thought or deed he has won the day with respect to our testimony and witness for the Lord. But when we learn to live with our lifeline firmly attached to the Sovereign Shepherd then our God reigns and reigns supreme.
A traditional Yom Kippur liturgy includes this prayer:
"We are your people and you are our God.
We are your children and you are our father.
We are your servants and you are our master."
I am sure that's a prayer we should include in our round of praying.