The Song of Serenity - Psalm 23 - Part 1

Bible Book: Psalms  23 : 1-2
Subject: Peace; Serenity; Security
Series: A Song for all Seasons - Psalm 23

The Song of Serenity

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Psalm 23:1-1

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not [a]want.
2 He makes me to lie down in [b]green pastures;
He leads me beside the [c]still waters.Introduction

Today we begin a series of sermons from the 23rd Psalm entitled "A Song for all Seasons." Life is a series of seasons. We refer to a young person as a “spring” chicken. Someone who is a little older, but not yet wise to the ways of life, is said to be “green behind the ears,” or “wet behind the ears.” We speak of the “mid-life crisis” as well. Seniors don’t particularly like it, but they are often spoken of as being in the “autumn of life.”

Whatever phase or season we are in, God has a message for us throughout the scriptures. In fact, it has been pointed out that the Bible is the only book that is relevant at every age. A parent sits on a child’s bed and reads stories from the Bible about Noah, Jonah and David. A teenager finds interest in David and Goliath, and the love story of Ruth. The newly married couple may find the Song of Solomon very fitting. In mid-life, almost every passage is needed. Then, in old age, we find the white-haired Christian sitting quietly reading the beloved Old Book. But, there is one chapter in the Bible, actually a Psalm, that covers so much in the way of addressing the seasons of life – it is the 23rd Psalm. In this four-part series, we will look into this Psalm and ask God to speak to us wherever we are on life’s journey.

The 23rd Psalm is loved by Christians all over the world. It has been a favorite passage of countless believers through the ages. It seems a little strange to me that I have never preached a series of sermons from this great Psalm. Of course, I have preached from it numerous times through the years, and I have used it for countless funeral services, but I never thought of taking it apart and addresses it in all its fullness – or at least all the fullness that I am capable of garnering from it in four messages.

It will bless us to slow down and enjoy this beautiful and inspirational passage. I feel a little like the pastor I read about recently. He often had his church read the 23rd Psalm in unison. He was disturbed by a person who was a fast reader and always went ahead of everyone else. One Sunday he announced that the church would read the 23rd Psalm in unison and then said, “Will the lady who is always by ‘in the valley of the shadow of death’ while the rest of us are ‘beside the still waters’ please wait for the rest of us to catch up?" Tonight we begin a series that will cause us to slow down by the still waters and appreciate this great portion of God’s Word.

David was the author of this Psalm. He was not a man who lived without his own measure of trouble and hardship. In his youth, he was the least among his brothers and surely got hand-me-down-clothes, the last biscuit at the table for dinner and the worst bed in the house on which to sleep. As a shepherd boy, he faced many dangers from lions, wolves, bears, and robbers. Later, he faced the mighty Goliath and won an incredible victory defending the name of the Lord. This led to jealously by King Saul who sought to kill David. As a result, David had to hide in various places to escape the king’s wrath. He was anointed King of Israel, but it took him many years to unite the throne and to drive out the entrenched enemies of God’s people. After becoming king, his sin with Bathsheba led to many sorrows and troubles in his life. We do not know when David wrote this Psalm, but it sounds like a Psalm written by a man of maturity and experience - a man who had learned to trust the Lord through all the passages of life. It is written, it seems, from the pen of someone who has lived long enough to need a heavenly Shepherd, who has sinned enough to need restoration, who has been near enough to death to know he did not want to walk that valley alone, and by someone who had looked up to heaven enough to be ready when he was called. So, he wrote a song, A Song For All Seasons – all the seasons of life.

In this Psalm we see

A Song Of Serenity

A Song Of Recovery

A Song Of Security, and

A Song Of Eternity.

  • The Song Of Serenity is needed in the Day of Decision.

  • The Song Of Recovery is needed in the Day of Defeat.

  • The Song Of Security is needed in the Day of Death

  • The Song Of Eternity is needed in the Day of Destiny.

Today we begin with The Song Of Serenity. David is revealing to us the calm and peace that comes from trusting in the Lord. So many people today are trying to get more and more things in order to discover happiness, but peace and serenity do not come with position, possessions or power. The Bible, history, and life experiences teach us that this is true. More materialism can simply make one more miserable if one leaves out the Master.

One day a boy’s mother decided she would make hot buttered biscuits as long as her son could eat them. He loved biscuits and always complained that he never got enough. He ate and ate and ate. She kept pulling them out of the oven. Finally she looked around and saw him sitting there looking somewhat green. “What’s wrong, son, don’t you want some more biscuits?” He answered sickishly, “No ma’am, I don’t even want the ones I’ve got.”

Friend, having more does not necessarily give a person peace and serenity. David found the secret to serenity and wrote it into this great song. Note with me three things which David shares in these first two verses.

David points out that true serenity is found in the Lord, our Shepherd.

I. The Position of the Lord

“The Lord is ...”

How we view God’s position in the universe and, more importantly, in our lives, makes a lot of difference. I’ve seen some bumper stickers that read, “God is my co-pilot.” Some people speak of the “Man upstairs.” The Lord is not a “co” anything and He is not a mere “man.” Let’s note how David viewed the Lord of His life.

A. His Sovereign Position

He is THE Lord! Not one among many, but the only Lord. He is THE Lord. Serenity comes when you have trusted your life to the One who is over all and can overcome all.

  • If your serenity is in your job and you lose your job, you lose your serenity.
  • If your serenity is in your money and you lose your money, you lose your serenity.
  • If your serenity  is in your health and you lose your health, you lose your serenity.
  • But, when your serenity is in the Lord, you can never lose it.

For if you lose your job, your money, your health, your friends, your possessions, everything, you still have your mighty and sovereign Lord. David said, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” It was a personal faith and a paramount fact. Have you a personal relationship with Jesus, the Shepherd?

B. His Sacred Position

The name used by David to describe God is “Lord.” This name was so sacred that the Jews would not pronounce it. In fact, the word LORD is used in the place of Yahweh or Jehovah many times in the Old Testament because the Jews considered the name Jehovah too sacred to even pronounce. Only one time a year was the name Jehovah, or Yahweh, pronounced. On the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies, he would whisper the name, “Yahweh.” O friend, you and I are to trust the mighty one, whose name is so sacred that lips quiver when they pronounce it. He is the Lord to those who trust Him. He is the personal guide and provider for those who by faith rely on Him completely.

So, we've seen the position of the Lord, let's look at ...

II. The Picture of the Lord

“ Shepherd….”

There is another name given to the Lord in this passage. He is called the "Shepherd." This reveals His loving, caring, personal nature. As Lord, we see His divinity; as Shepherd, we see His humanity. This is a unique look at God for an Old Testament writer. For here we see God spiritually and physically. The Lord Jehovah, and the Shepherd are One. Who is this Lord and Shepherd?

Three times in the New Testament Jesus is described as the Shepherd.

A. As The Good Shepherd He Died for Us - The Penalty for Sin

We see the Good Shepherd mentioned in John 10:11 as Jesus said ...

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."

He died for us that we might escape the penalty for our sins.

A good shepherd was known as one who was willing to lay down his life for his sheep. That, in fact, is exactly what the Good Shepherd did for us. He died to pay the price for our sin. He took the penalty for our iniquities. He is, indeed, the Good Shepherd! We see this clearly, of course, in John 10 and we read of His sacrificial death in all four of the Gospels.

In fact, we see this described prophetically in Psalm 22. In fact, the opening words of Psalm 22 are also the first words Jesus spoke from the cross. We do not have time to read all of Psalm 22 today, but it is something you could do this next week to see the correlation between that passage and the actually death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary.

B. As The Great Shepherd He Rose for Us - The Power over Sin

We read about the Great Shepherd in Hebrews 13:20-21 ...

"20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

The Great Shepherd overcame death. He rose to justify us and to be our companion on the road of life. Look at Psalm 23 and you see the personal, present, powerful companionship of the Shepherd with His sheep. He is so close to us that He will not even allow us to go through the Valley of Death alone!

C. The Chief Shepherd - He Will Come For Us

We see this mentioned in 1 Peter 5:4 ...

"4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away."

He is the Chief Shepherd in our lives. He is the Chief Shepherd with a name above every name (Ephesians 2:5-10). Psalm 24 speaks to us of our Lord arriving at the gate of heaven with a great host. This forms a prophetic promise of Jesus coming to get all believers and delivering them victoriously through the gates of home in heaven.

  • He is the Chief over Sin
  • He is the Chief over Death
  • He is the Chief over Satan
  • He is the chief over Eternity.

He is the Great Shepherd, the Good Shepherd and the Chief Shepherd.

  • As Jehovah, we see His Sovereignty
  • As Shepherd, we see His Sympathy

Hallelujah, What a Savior!

  • We see Him as a Worm (Ps. 22:6) - Suffering in Weakness
  • We see Him as a Shepherd (Ps. 23:1) - Guiding in Faithfulness
  • We see Him as a King (Ps. 24:7) - Reigning in Righteousness

Note also ...

  • In Psalm 22 we see one standing at the foot of the cross viewing the rejected Christ as He dies on the cross for our sins.
  • In Psalm 23 we see one viewing and following the risen Christ in daily life.
  • In Psalm 24 we see one viewing the reigning Christ appearing with us in glory with all the host of saints with Him.

How can we possibly praise Him enough? How can we fully understand these truths? We can only bow in humble appreciation of Him. No wonder we will allow fall down and cast our crowns at His feet when we get home to heaven!

We consider now ...

III. The Peace of the Lord

“I shall not want; maketh me lie down; He leadeth beside still waters…”

A father once told his boy the story of the lost sheep. He embellished it a little by saying that the animal had found a hole in the fence and crawled through, wandering so far away that it had become hopelessly lost. Then he told of a wolf that chased the sheep, and how the shepherd finally came to its rescue. The youngster was greatly interested, but his one pointed question was, "Did they fix the hole in the fence, Daddy?"

We need to make sure that we remain close to the Shepherd, because that is where our peace is found and our needs are met. We must fix the hole in the fence so that we do not wander away from His side.

The image in the passage before us is of a shepherd in close relationship to his sheep. I am told that sheep graze at about 4:00 a.m., while the dew is on the grass. When the sun rises and it gets hot, about 10:00 a.m., the shepherd places them beside the still waters and allows them to rest. This is the time that the sheep grow the most and the time when they put on the most wool. They do this while they are resting more than when they are grazing, walking or standing. We will never grow to be all we ought to be as Christians unless we work for the Lord, dine on His Word, and rest by His side.

A. A Realization

Many have noted that man is a God-created being with a vacuum inside that only God can fill. Until man finds God, He realizes something is missing. He can try to fill that vacuum with pleasure, power, position and any other things in this world, but he will still find himself in want. When a person finds the Shepherd is as personal Savior, his wants are met. He comes to the realization that this - the Lord - is what has been missing in his life.

B. A Rest

The Shepherd makes the sheep lie down. We note from the life of Jesus, the Shepherd, that rest is necessary. I am not speaking of physical rest, but spiritual rest. Jesus often went aside from His busy life and spent time in prayer with the Father. If Jesus needed that, how much more do we need that. When we rest in the Shepherd, we find our selves at peace.

C. A Refreshment

The Shepherd takes the sheep to the waters. He refreshes them. The Lord has what our souls need in order to carry out our divine mission in strength and fortitude. Without Him, we are always drinking from waters that will not satisfy. It is interesting to note that Jesus said, "I am the water of life." Indeed, He is the water that satisfies.

You see, our Shepherd meets our deepest needs, and grants us peace that we cannot find elsewhere. He knows when we need to move, when we need to rest and when we need to nuzzle up close to Him. The secret of serenity is not some thing or some circumstance; the secret of serenity is the Shepherd Himself! The Lord is my Shepherd! David found his serenity, not in the things God gave him, but in God who gave them to him. When we take time daily to rest in Him, we grow and become useful in His cause.


Friend, some are not of His sheep (John 10:27). It must be Personal. But when you make that personal decision, it will be Permanent (John 10:28). Once you are His, you are forever Protected (John 10…"You are in His hand and no one can take you out!").

A little girl was quoting Psalm 23 and mistakenly said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.” Actually, she was right. Is He your Shepherd? He can be yours this very day. Once you know Him, He will be all you ever want on a spiritual level, and all your other wants will be miniscule compared to Him.

Isaiah 40:11, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Are you in His arms? Turn to Him now.

For those of us who know Him and rest in His secure arms, let us make a commitment to fix he fence – to plug up the places where we might wander away from Him in our fellowship.

Psalm 79:13 states ...

"So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations."

Yes, let us show forth His praises in our witness and our ways.