The Role Of A Shepherd
(An outline study of the 23rd Psalm)

    We should understand the LORD (Yahweh) is the good shepherd that David speaks of in the Psalm.  We should also understand that Jesus declares that he is the good shepherd thus making him God. "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). However, in this study, we want to see the characteristics of a good shepherd and how we are in the role of a shepherd.

I. Who is a shepherd?

A. A pastor is a shepherd to the church.
B. An elder or deacon is a shepherd within the body.
C. A husband is a shepherd to his wife.
D. Parents are shepherds to their children.
E. A teacher is a shepherd to his students.
F. An employer is a shepherd his employees.
G. An older child is a shepherd to his younger bothers and sisters.
H. Anyone who in anyway leads anyone is shepherd who is responsible for the care of another.
II. What are the responsibilities of a shepherd.  (Psalm 23).
A. (Psalm 23:1) "The LORD is my shepherd"
1. A good shepherd gives the sheep a sense of belonging.

2. He should know his sheep.

"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine" (John 10:14).  Note the word "know" is the same word used of the intimate knowing of a man and wife.
3. He should know them by name.
"To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out" (John 10:3).
B. (Psalm 23:1)  "I shall not want."
1. The shepherd should see that the needs of the sheep are met.

2. He should feed the sheep.

"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.   He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.   He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17).
a. Jesus asked, "Do you love me more than these?".  (The Greek word "agape" means a self giving type of love).  But Peter responds, "I have affection for you like a brother." (The Greek word "phileo" means to have affection for a brother).  Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

b. Jesus asked as second time, "Do you love me?"  Peter again responds, "Yes, Lord, you know that I have affection for you as a brother."  Jesus said, "Shepherd (or tend to) my sheep."

c. Jesus asked the third time, "Do you have affection for me as a brother?" This time Peter responds, "You know that I have affection for you."  Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."

Do you LOVE your sheep enough to feed the young lambs using a bottle, tend to the needs of the sheep, and feed the older sheep?
C. (Psalm 23:2)  "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."
1. Green pastures pictures a place of tranquility and a soft bed of grass.

2. Green pastures are a place of rest.

3. The shepherd should not be a slave driver, but one who provides rest for his sheep.  We should not treat our sheep as dogs, telling them that them must fetch this that or the other for us all the time.

D. (Psalm 23:2) "He leadeth me beside the still waters."
1. The shepherd is to lead his sheep, not drive them.
a. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). The sheep should be able to trust the voice of the shepherd and be willing to follow him.

c. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:   Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;   Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (I Peter 5:1-4).

(1). Again the shepherd is to care for the sheep (not just feed them).
(2). God has given you that role and position of a shepherd.
(3). We should not do it out of compulsion, but voluntarily.
(4). We should not do it for money, but willingly.
(5). We should not be lords over the sheep, but lead by being examples to the flock. The result is that we receive a crown of glory.
2. The shepherd leads by still water.
The sheep will drown in swift water.  Their wool is like a sponge that absorbs the water so that the sheep can not swim out.  The shepherd again should lead them to the still water that they can drink without fear of drowning.
E. (Psalm 23:3)  "He restoreth my soul."
1. The soul is the mind will and emotions.
2. How does the shepherd do this?
a. He affirms the sheep rather than bring critical.
b. He encourages the sheep rather than being discouraging to them.
c. He instructs rather than condemning them.
e. He speaks blessing over them rather than cursing them.
f. He protects them rather than feeding them to the wolves.
g. He gathers them together with the flock rather than scattering them in the wilderness.
3. The shepherds are to bring healing.
a. God rebukes the shepherds of Israel.
"The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them" (Ezekiel 34:4).
b. Jesus sent out the twelve to shepherd the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
"And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7-8).
F. (Psalm 23:3) "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
1. He leads the sheep by example teaching the sheep what is the right path.
a. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
2. He is also willing to go after the lost sheep.
"And he spake this parable unto them, saying,  What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.  I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:3-7).
a. He leaves the flock to go after the one that is lost until he finds it.
b. He brings it back upon his shoulders, rejoicing.
(1). Oral tradition has it that the shepherd breaks the leg of the sheep so that it does run off again.
(2). He carries it so that it will become dependent on the shepherd and the flock.
(3). He rejoices that he has found it.
c. Loving discipline often requires restrictions to be placed upon the sheep.
"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24).
3. The shepherd should also realize that his own reputation is at stake.
G. (Psalm 23:4)  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for the art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
1. The shepherd should provide security for the sheep providing a freedom from fear for the sheep.
2. The good shepherd must be willing to give his life for his sheep.
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).
3. The shepherd should be willing to stay with his sheep rather leaving them to the wolf.
"But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep" (John 10:12-13).
4. The rod represents the authority of the shepherd. It was like a club that the shepherd used to protect his sheep.
Note: To have authority one must submit to authority.  The shepherd himself should be under authority.
5. The staff was a long stick with a hook on the end used as an aid to pull the sheep out of the pit if it fell into one.

6. The shepherd must be willing to fight for his sheep.

"And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.  And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.  And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:   And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.   Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God" (I Samuel 17:32-36).
a. His first concern was for the sheep.
(1). He went after the enemy.
(2). He smote (attacked) the enemy.
(3). He took the lamb out of the enemy's mouth.
b. Our tendency is to get angry at the sheep.  Imagine the bear walking away carrying the sheep in his mouth by the sheep's hind leg and the shepherd hollering at the sheep ...
(1). "I told you so!"
(2). "You can't do anything right!"
(3). "You are always running away!"  (Just maybe this attitude is the reason the sheep keep running off.)
H. (Psalm 23:5)  "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."
1. The shepherd must prepare the food for the sheep.
a. The shepherd must prepare the field.
(1). He must remove the stones and thorn bushes.
(2). He may also need to cultivate and irrigate the field.
(3). He builds a hedge about the field.
b. He must spend time in the Word.
(1). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).

(2). If a shepherd does not study the Word, he has nothing to share with his sheep.

2. The shepherd again must feed the sheep.
a. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:2).  If two people will teach two each, then four will be taught.  If the four will then teach two each while the two are teaching two more, then ten people will be taught. You see there is multiplication factor.

b. If the shepherd properly feeds the sheep, they will be strong and healthy and multiply.

Illustration:  I built a bird feeder for our back porch, provided, a birdbath, and a place the birds could come out of the hot summer sun.  Now, I think birds from all over town come to out back porch.  When a shepherd feeds his flock, provides water for their thirst and protection, more sheep will come.  When we lived in Ft. Worth, Texas, we on an occasion visited a church where people filled up the isles on Sunday night to worship and hear the Word preached.  The church had just moved into their second new building and it was overflowing.
3. The enemy will be watching for the sheep, but so should the shepherd be watching for the enemy.
I. (Psalm 23:5) "Thou anointest my head with oil"
1. The anointing is to bring a sense of worth.
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;  And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight" (Numbers 27:18-19).  Moses placed Joshua before the priest and all the congregation putting him into a position of authority.
2. The shepherd in the field anointed the head of the sheep with oil and spice to protect it from harmful insects.
a. "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.   For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.   Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.   Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Act 20:27-32).

b. APPLICATION: We should be willing to anoint others and pray for them.    "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14).

3. The shepherd should watch and pray for the sheep.
a. He may pray a hedge about them to protect them from wrong outside influence.  (Hosea 2:6-7).
b. He may bind the enemy to protect them from the enemy in general. (Mark 3:27).
c. He may cast down strongholds to protect them from the enemy within. (II Corinthians 10:4-5).
J. (Psalm 23:5) "My cup runneth over."
1. The shepherd should not be stingy, but generous  toward his sheep.
2. The shepherd should bless the sheep beyond measure.
a. "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
b. How?  Through giving attention (giving quality time to), praise, affirmation, thanksgiving, provision, and promotion. He should also rejoice with the sheep when they make progress.
K. (Psalm 23:6)  "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
1. The shepherd should be GOOD to the sheep.
2. The shepherd should show mercy.
b. Mercy is not dealing out what is deserved.
a. Don't always scold the sheep or punish them when they go astray.
3. "All the days of my life"
a. Parents should look beyond the 18th birthday or when the child leaves the home.
b. Employers should look beyond the last day the employee works.
c. Pastors should look at what the individual may carry with them when he goes somewhere else.
L. (Psalm 23:6). "And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
1. The shepherd should provide a place that one can call home.
2. The parent should not say, "Well, if you leave now you, are never to come back again."
3: In Luke 15:11-32 there is the story of the selfish son who demanded his inheritance and left home.
a. The son wasted his life and his inheritance but was free to return home.
b. The father waited and watched for his return.
c. The father saw him coming from a distance.
d. The father greeted him, hugged him, and kissed him welcoming home.
e. The father blessed him by putting a robe, a ring, and shoes upon him.
f. The father celebrated his son's return and threw a big party for him.

Personal Evaluation:
1. Who are your sheep ______________________________________________________?

2. What kind of shepherd are you ______________________________________________ ?

3. What things might you do to become a better shepherd ____________________________