“Cradle To Grave Provision” – One Year Bible Reading (Psalms/Proverbs) – January 28

Psalm 23:1-6      A Psalm Of Trust by David

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Psalm 23:1-6   Cradle To Grave Provision

As you know, this is a very famous piece of literature.  Psalm 22 was about the suffering Shepherd who dies for His sheep (cf. John 10:11).  This psalm is about the loving Shepherd.  Psalm 24 is also about the Shepherd.

John the Apostle also wrote about the Shepherd in John 10.  The sheep know His voice (cf. John 10:4).  Adam’s son, Abel, was a shepherd (Gen.4:2).  Moses shepherded sheep (Exod. 3:10.  So did David (1 Sam. 17:34).  Pastors are called shepherds (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2).

The summer before I left for high school, I was dating a girl whose father had been away on business for a couple weeks during that time.  When I met him, he asked what I was going to major on in college.  I had just heard Johnny Carson make a joke about how he was going to leave show biz and become a shepherd.  So I told my girlfriend’s Dad that I was going to major in shepherding.  He seemed surprised so he asked me again.  Somehow I kept a straight face and told him, yes, shepherding with real sheep.  That night, as he turned off the light to get in bed with his wife, he asked her, “Is Jerry really going to be a shepherd?”   I guess the joke was on me.  That is what I became.

Psalm 23 is often used at funerals.  In fact, we used it at my own mother’s funeral.  But there is so much more than just hope after death in this little poem.

First, David saw the Lord as his shepherd.  When I was pastoring out in the country, we had a family that owned a sheep farm.  He invited me over to see them.  He said that they weren’t dumb as many people thought.  McGee had the same experience and the sheep’s owner told him they were “stubborn, hardheaded, and pig-headed animals.”  As if that wasn’t complimentary enough, he added, “Besides that, they are dirty and filthy.”  McGee said they were a perfect picture of the human race.  Hey, J. Vernon, speak for yourself!  J.V. was probably correct though.

What does a shepherd do?  He guides the sheep and makes sure they are fed and protected.  I can dig that.  See why you need to read Scripture daily?  We need to be reminded and have faith that we have a Shepherd Who watches out for us.

We used to recite this poem in the lower grades of our public school (now you know how ancient I am).  I never understood why we wouldn’t want to want.  I loved wanting things.  Records, clothes, food.  I wanted them all!  Of course, the NIV makes clear that the sense of verse 1 is that we “lack nothing.”  God takes care of all of our needs (cf. Matt. 6:25-34).  He usually gives us more than just our needs but He promises to provide all our needs.   And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  It should probably be pointed out that the Philippian church was a giving church and then they were given that promise.  But I have never known God to leave any believer in the lurch (cf. Heb. 13:5; Ps. 37:25).

Our shepherd gives us rest (v. 2-3).  In Matthew 11, He is seen as an older, stronger ox with whom we can yoke up.  He ensures that we will receive rest (cf. Matt. 11:28-30, Smell The Roses).  When Israel didn’t rest the land as they were commanded, Yahweh had them exported to make sure the land got rest (see Land, Ho!).

Charles Stanley used to tell us when I was in his congregation, that he worked too hard in the ministry so God would give him times of rest in the hospital.  After a couple times, he said he learned his lesson.  I think my six heart by-passes and the subsequent chronic fatigue I’ve had for over ten years are my reminder to take some time off during the week.  We don’t need to prove ourselves to God.  He already loves us.  It’s called grace.

Meditation is a good way to get some rest (vv. 2-3).  David learned to meditate about God.  Thus, we have the psalms!  When I try to calm myself down, like when getting my blood pressure taken, I imagine being by a nice, calm, still lake (v. 2).

God will give us times of rest and vacations (v. 3).  I’m amazed that even when I’m broke, God will find ways to bless me.  Out of the blue I may get some basketball tickets or be invited to a nice dinner.  God takes care of His own.

I don’t know how non-christians do it.  How do they go out on the roads every day or go about their daily business without trusting the Lord?  The same people will load up on life insurance and stockpile food or luxuries without any thought that it could all end in a moment.  God gives us plenty warnings of how sudden death can be.  How many people thought they were just going off to work at the Twin Towers on that fateful day?  They thought it was just another day at the office.  That’s why David’s son, Solomon, warned us that it is better to go to a funeral than a party (v. 4, cf. Eccles. 7:2).

The shepherd’s staff  (v. 4c) could be used to ward off attacks against the sheep.  It could also be used to whack a sheep that began to stray.  I have seen sheep start to wander and the Lord whacks them  But sheep are stubborn.  Sometimes they keep wandering away.  They continue to get whacked.  But sometimes God’s patience runs out.  The result is the “sin unto death” (see Shazam! on the “sin unto death”).

Usually troops are throwing up in the presence of their enemies before a battle.  David was eating a nice spread provided by God in those situations (v. 5a).  Wow.  I guess he would’ve been calm in the boat with the Lord during the storm (cf. Matt. 8:24)!

The shepherd also anointed David’s head with oil.  Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit (cf. 5b).  We all need the filling (cf. Eph. 5:18) and anointing of the Spirit to live the Christian life.  To be filled by the Spirit means to be controlled by the Spirit (the background of the term filling was to fill a sail and thus control the boat).  The “anointing” of the Holy Spirit allows us to be taught by God (cf. 1 John 2:27).  The “anointing” also give us power to live the Christian life (cf. Acts 1:8).  Do you need power?

David had a cup that was spilling over with provision from God (v. 5c)!

David was sure that God would take of him throughout his life (v. 6).  We can look back and see that He did.

God will not only take care of us down here, but He is preparing a place for us to live forever (John 14:2-3).  I had a boss in radio a long time ago who accused me of wanting cradle to grave provision.  Actually, I only wanted him to pay me a fair wage, but, hey, it was radio.

God promises us cradle to grace coverage.  How can you beat that?

Proverbs 5:22-23   Folly World

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Do you ever envy people who get away with stuff?  It seems everyone has a scam.  But they will be caught eventually though they think they can always get away with their sin (v. 22).

Do you ever watch that TV show about the dumb crooks that do dumb stuff?    I usually don’t because it’s too dumb.  Even if it looks like someone gets away with something, they will eventually have to appear before the Great White Throne for judgment (see The GWT).  Evil people will get tangled up in their own sin (v. 22b).

People don’t believe the Bible.  We all reap what we sow (cf. Gal. 6:7-8).  We have an epidemic of ignorance at this point in time.  A friend of mine teaches at a major university.  He was told not to teach the students so much, he should listen to what the students have to say.  Those kids are going to “die for a lack of instruction” (v. 23a).

Do you wonder why there is so much “folly” in the world now (v. 23b).  Now you know.

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