From Chuck Lane
Questions for The Book of Psalms
Calvary Christian Fellowship
Bible Study, October 2019 – May 2020
Questions (w/ some answers) for Psalm 23
1. Who is the Psalmist?
- David, likely the old and wizened king, reflecting back over the years from his own youth as a shepherd boy, through his battles, victories and defeats, brushes with death, his betrayals of, and by, others, and the mercies of the LORD. These are his observations in six lines.
2. Who is/are the speaker(s)?
- This is about David’s relationship with the LORD. It is another psalm about the “He and me” relationship (I know, it’s suppose to be “He and I”) which we previously encountered in our study of Psalms Psalm 18 . Psalm 23 is a psalm in which David sings knowingly of both song and shadow.
3. Who is the audience?
- David’s life experiences are common to us all. Indeed, Paul writes: 1 Corinthians 10:13 . He is, of course, singing to, worshipping the LORD our Lord, which gets us to the theme of the Psalm: Christ as the great Shepherd. Here, with the issue of theme, is where J. Vernon McGee believes the link between Psalm 22 is crucial to understanding Psalm 23. And likewise, the next Psalm, Psalm 24 is also connected, making a trilogy, or “triptych of psalms.”
- As we saw, the last words of Christ, who “recited” Psalm 22 on the cross, were “It is finished.” In translation, however, we see He said this with only one word, “Tetelestai.” It is done. Finished. But like the Gospel itself, it doesn’t end there! Our Lord also taught us, “I am the good shepherd:” and what does a good shepherd do? “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” John 10:11 . Christ is pictured as the Good Shepherd in Psalm 22.
- Now in Psalm 23 the LORD is the Great Shepherd. Take notice of the “paraphrase” in metaphor of this Psalm in Hebrews 13:20-21 . Psalm 23 reveal Him as the Great Shepherd.
- Then, Psalm 24 presents Him as the Chief Shepherd, as we shall see, paraphrased by 1 Peter 5:4 as “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” 1 Peter 5:4 .
- This is the same crown that Paul mentions 2 Timothy 4:7-8
· A crown received from the Chief Shepherd at what has become known as the “bema seat judgment” 2 Corinthians 5:10 , when the born again are judged by Him for what they should have done (New Testament Commandments—Thou shalt . . . from Psalm 15 ), rather than for what they shouldn’t have (Old Testament: Ten Commandments—Thou shalt not . . . Deuteronomy 5:6-21 .
· Futhermore, McGee writes this about the inseparability of these three
Psalms (22,23 & 24):
To put it succinctly, in Psalm 22 we see the cross, in Psalm 23
the crook (the Shepherd’s crook), in Psalm 24 thecrown (the King’s crown). In Psalm 22 Christ He is the Savior; in Psalm 23 He is the Satisfier; in Psalm 24 He
is the Sovereign. In Psalm 22 He is the foundation; in
Psalm 23 He is the manifestation; in Psalm 24 He is theexpectation. In Psalm 22 He dies; In Psalm 23 He isliving; in Psalm 24 He is coming. Psalm 22 speaks of the past; Psalm 23 speaks of the present; and Psalm 24 speaks
of the future. In Psalm 22 He gives His life for the
sheep; in Psalm 23 He gives His love to the sheep; in Psalm 24 He
gives us light when He shall appear. What a wonderful picture we
have o fChrist in these three psalms!
· Written by His ancestor, David, more that 1000 years before He was born. Read it carefully, then try to explain it other than being God breathed, Spirit inspired.
4. List those described in the Psalm? How are they described (adjectives used, actions given, consequences prescribed)? Examples from the Bible? Do you know people like this?
REVELATION OF THE SANCTUARY OF THE SHEPHERD’S SOUL
The LORD is my shepherd: I shall not want
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters [Ps. 23:1-2]
- The LORD is my shepherd: here the LORD is deified. No longer our Lord in the flesh, but risen, transfigured, in the Spirit with us always. Notice He is my shepherd. Not just the shepherd that any will or can follow, but my shepherd. THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE ISSUE. The Psalm and the Savior is not for everybody. “You must know the Shepherd as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep before you can know Him as the Great Shepherd. You must know the Shepherd of Psalm 22 before you can call Him my shepherd.” (McGee)
- I shall not want: the allusion to Jehovah Jireh is clear; He will provide, even to the extent that “God will provide himself a lamb” Genesis 22:13-14
- “He maketh . . .” and “He leadeth . . .”: here we have relationship again. “He and me.” There is nothing between man’s soul and God. The LORD is my shepherd. Sheep will not lay down if they are hungry. Christ our Great Shepherd is our sufficiency and will maketh me lie down in green pastures John 6:35 . Sheep are stay out of or away from turbulent, or troubled waters. Nor will they drink out of stagnant water. Like their human counterparts, they get anxious, frightened, by things of the world and not only need rest from the stress, but also peace for the soul. The Great Shepherd does not only calm the waters for us, but beckons to us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will rest you” (Matt. 11:28).
BECORD OF THE THOUGHT OF THE SHEPHERD’S MIND
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me [Ps. 23:3-4]
- David was no different from you or me. He was a sinner, and his sin interfered with his relationship with Father God; and it is that relationship that needs to be restored, If not we remain spiritually dead, separated from Him. We have seen that David knew the only Way to restoration was maintaining the relationship, and that is what we see ion his story in the Bible. It’s why it’s there, so that we may know how we may be restored, and finding our restoration, it is what we should do . . . share it with others as he did Psalm 27:1
- he leadeth me . . . if you would be led, then you must follow. There is choice involved. If the LORD is my shepherd, then I will choose to fallow, and not wait to be driven. Indeed, the Great Shepherd is not one to drive anyone anywhere. The Great Shepherd says John 10:25-27 .
- Yea, though I walk through the valley fo the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me ; He is our Great Shepherd, we know Him, we hear His voice, we trust Him, we follow Him, with Him we walk by faith, and that’s why we wear His name . . . Christian.
- . . . thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. A rod is what we use in self-defense, a staff for direction and guidance. Both are used to persuade, but we like the latter much more than the former. It’s like love. Love is supposed to be blissful, if we listen only to the liberal. Anything else is hate. But what about the dark side of love, when love is painful, when, for the sake of love, we must do what only one who loves can do, because no one else will do it. “Greater love has no one than this,” says the Lord, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And what about when the Father disciplines Proverbs 3:11-12 ; Hebrews 12:5-11V ; James 1:2-4 . We know that the Good Shepherd would go in search for the lost sheep, but did you know perhaps why they are often carrying the “lost sheep” on their shoulder. For one who would run off, habitually, endangering himself, as well as the shepherd who went in search of him, repeatedly, along with endangering the flock which waited, unprotected by the shepherd while away in search . . . for such a one as this, a rudimentary form of treatment, a prescription if you will, was to break one of their legs, perhaps with a rod. Then, as the leg mended, the lamb would come to understood the benefits, indeed the necessity, of congregating with others for welfare and safety.
- I know. They call that abuse. And they say that the wolves the sweet little lamb was looking for to go live with would not treat him with such cruelty. That such a shepherd is actually some sort of sick sadist and needs to have his own leg broken.
- . . . thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Comforter. When we are fed and rested, and safe and secure, then we are ready to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faith, humility, temperance (self-control) and long-suffering (patience). Before we get there, however, the Holy Spirit works to convict us, and it is this conviction that lead to confession, repentance and forgiveness, the conditions for redemption. This is what the broken leg is about. This is what we call the dark side of love. This is why the Father disciplines us. And this is why His Son went to hang and die on the cross.
REFLECTIONS OF THE HAPPINSS AND HOPE OF THE SJHEPHERD’S HEART
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever [Ps. 23:5-6]
- I believe the table is one set by Him. Where He is prepared to serve what it is that I need, and not what I want or deserve. If I ask, in the name of Jesus, He will deliver, even in the face of mine enemies. The problem is in my nature, I’m not always inclined to seek or take what I need, but rather strive for what I want and end up getting what I deserve. I don’t think I’m the only one that knows what I’m talking about.
- But when I use the new, born again again heart that He has given me, circumcised from the scars and callouses collected from the world through the course of time; when I surrender and long for His will rather than mine in life, I find that in His presence I am indeed anointed. That I am filled with those fruits of the spirit, that during moments like these my cup, indeed, overflows with love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faith, temperance, humility and even long-suffering.
- It’s like when I receive His mercy – I know I take up a lot, but I also know that there is plenty more where that comes from, for you and anyone else in needs. And that is why I don’t go wandering off so much like I use to. For some reason He has allowed me to survive, and for good reason I’ve learned that I really don’t want to stray so far after all. I’ve been convicted, I now enjoy the Comfort.
 Soon there would be a great earthquake, the veil in the holy of holies was torn from top to bottom, rocks rent, graves were opened . . .
7 Then the earth shook and tremble: the foundations also of the hills move and were shaken, because he was wroth
- We are told that there was another qreat quake three days later, that an angel rolled the stone from the mouth of the tomb, and that the keepers (soldiers sent to guard the tomb) were so fearful as to shake and become as dead men. What else took place in the heavens which corresponds to the following verses we do not know . . .
8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.
10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his secret place: his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
- The Psalm began with the pronoun “my . . .” Then in verse 7 the pronoun becomes “he who was wroth.” In verse 13 it is clarified to whom “he who was wroth” refers.
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice, hail stones and coals of fire
- Then, beginning in verses 16 and 17 the pronoun(s) become(s) “he and me.” (I know, it should be “he and I,” but it’s the Word of God, so there is reason for it being “he and me.”)
16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me
 And so David tells us how the Holy Spirit instructs him:
2 He that walked uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor..
4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
- “In whose eyes a vile person is comtemned” = that is despised. We are to hate evil and oppose it to our “own hurt.” Seven things God hates: Proverbs 6:16-19. Lying is mentioned twice, by the way. Ever tell a lie? How often have you heard “Crime does not pay?” How many refuse to believe it? Indeed, crime is part and parcel of the requirements (short cuts) to success in the world. Forget the golden rule, for the rule of the world is do unto others before they do unto you (we call it a pre-emptive strike as oppose to self defense, and it’s even found it’s way into our foreign policy). The “coming” of the Psychopath? Forget about it, the Psychopath came long ago. No feels guilty, because we have been told for a generation that guilt itself is evil. Yet how can we deny knowing that doing things we should not do, because it is the way of the world . . . is wrong. Even when we are taught to conform with the wisdom that if you can’t beat then you need to join them.
- Again, all this looming large against “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” A man is only as good as his word. And for a good man, God’s Word is His Perfect and true example. Every promise of God in the Holy Bible has been, is being, and will be fulfilled . . . without exception. We know that the best prediction for the future is what has happened in the past, and God is batting 1000, scoring even against the mathematical, statistical odds of impossibility. Hebrews 13:8 put it simple. The truth is defined as being that which is, always will be, and can never change. Can you think of anything that meets that criteria besides the Word of God? What determines the value of a thing is its rarity. The truth is very rare. When truth is combined with Grace, we know we are in the presence of “the only One.”
- Moses gave us the 10 commandments of the Old Testament, the “shalt not’s” or the don’t’s. David, through contrast, gives us insight into what we need to do, to overcome, to practice our integrity, maintaining our word . . . the one thing we have control over. On the other hand, we have been given what’s called the New Testament commandments (The “Do’s” vs The “Don’t’s”) by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5-11, to help us along the way. And like the Old Testament commandments, they are a guide, God’s standards of perfection, that we should strive toward, knowing that when we fall short, and repent (agree that we have missed the mark), and confess (with contrition in our hearts for our transgressions), He is faithful to forgive us, that we may indeed become perfected (more mature) in order to overcome:
1. comfort yourselves together [ 5:11-28]
2. edify one another [5:11]
3. know (recognize) them that teach the Word of God [5:12]
4. esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake [5:13]
5. be at peace with one another [5:13]
6. warn them that are unruly [5:14]
7. comfort the feeble minded [5:14]
8. support the weak (in faith) [5:14]
9. be patient toward all men [5:14]
10. See that none render evil for evil unto any man. [5:15]
11. but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men [5:15].
12. Rejoice evermore [5:16]
13. Pray without ceasing [5:17]
14. give thanks [5:18]
15. Quench not the Spirit [5:19]
16. Despise not prophecyings [5:20]
17. Prove all things (don't be a sucker, investigate . . . [be as the Bereans]) [5:21]
18. Hold fast that which is good [5:21].
19. Abstain from all appearance of evil [5:22]. And not just what may appear to others, but to our Father God, who sees everything, as well [*See 5:23]
20. Brethren pray for us (pray for those who give out the gospel [5:25].
21. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss (a warm handshake will do) [5:26].
22. I charge you that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren [5:27].