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How God SELECTS His LEADERS. “ God is always preparing the world's kings. True rulers are never absent. They do not sit on thrones. They are with us in our families, or looking after our sheep, or keeping our books, despised by their elder brothers, and unrecognized by all; but when the clock
of time strikes, they take their place and do their work.' Rev. John Clifford, D.D.
“ David got his kingship because he took it. You can imagine David saying to Samuel, ' I beg to decline. Really, Samuel, you have landed upon me too suddenly ; don't you see, prophet, I have no time to think of this? I was suddenly called in, and here you are going to make me king, with all that that involves. I have no ambition that way ; it is not for me ; give it to Eliab.'” - John McNeill. This is the way many talk when the kingship of Christian belief and action is offered to them.
III. DAVID, PRINCE OF SONG, 1 Sam. 16 : 14-23. We have now a sad and dark picture, in complete contrast to the bright and happy portrait of the shepherd lad. Saul had by this time developed the gloomy qualities that amounted to insanity.
14. The Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul. “ The Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon David,” we have just read. This does not mean, of course, that God's Spirit could not have dwelt in equal power and blessedness with both ; how gladly would he have done so ! An evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him. This phrase, often repeated with regard to Saul, does not refer to the Spirit of Jehovah, but to his very opposite. The Bible everywhere, in both the Old and New Testaments, recognizes the existence of demons, whose wicked minds delight in tormenting men and leading them astray. God controls them, and uses them as the instruments of his will, always for the good of mankind. They are his scourges, to bring sinners back to himself, or at least to make them warnings to others. Saul was afflicted with what Professor Macalister in Hastings's Bible Dictionary calls “ recurrent paroxysmal mania," and the ancients ascribed all such mental diseases to the inAuence of evil spirits. Now we know that, though insanity and sin are often closely related, mental derangement is often also the result of defective heredity, and coexists with a pure mind and a holy life. But Saul manifestly brought this terrible condition upon himself.
“An Evil SPIRIT FROM JEHOVAH." "To put the very devil into God's hands gives rest : I can wait now ; he is on a chain.” Rev. John McNeill. “ The law is that a beneficent power, if we obey it, blesses and helps us; but the same power, if we disobey it, curses and ruins us. You obey fire, and she will forge your iron and cook your dinner. You disobey fire, and she will sweep your city in a night off the face of the earth. He that obeys, must feel the ever-present God in joy. He that disobeys must feel him in pain everywhere and forever. Phillips Brooks.
15. Saul's servants. They were bold to tell the king just what was the matter with him, and they were wise in suggesting a remedy. The favorable influence of music upon insanity is well known. With other diversions, it is in common use in modern insane asylums. A famous instance is the melancholy of Philip V. of Spain, which made him incapable of attending to business. Farinelli, a celebrated musician, was invited to perform at a concert in a room next to the king's, and the music gradually restored Philip to health.
18. A man of war. This must be regarded as anticipatory of what was to come and as merely a recognition of the bravery which David had already shown as a shepherd (see 1 Sam. 17:32–36). Prudent in speech, a man skilled in words, eloquent. Perhaps David was already known as a poet, though few if any of his psalms that we possess had yet been written. Those that contain memories of his shepherd life also carry references to mature experiences. Jehovah is with him. This statement is made also of Abraham (Gen. 21 : 22), Jacob (Gen. 28 : 15), Joseph (Gen. 39 : 2), Moses (Ex. 3 : 12), Joshua (Josh. 1:5), Gideon (Judg. 6:16), and Samuel (1 Sam. 3:19). God was plainly the source of strength of all the great men and women of the Bible.
20. Bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid. These were plain presents for a king, but those were simple, pastoral times. Jesse very sensibly sent to Saul the produce of his own farm, and Saul doubtless received the gift in the spirit in which it was sent.
21. David stood before him, had a definite position in Saul's court. He loved him greatly. David shows himself through all his life a very lovable person. His open, sunny nature was quite the opposite of Saul's moody and melancholy disposition, and, as so often happens, the opposite characters attracted each other, He became his armorbearer,“ attendant in war and body servant at home.” Prof. H. L. Willett, D.D.
22. Let David . stand before me. Jesse would be glad to grant the request, though it deprived him of a shepherd boy, and took from his home a beloved inmate, for he knew that at the king's court David would be trained in many useful arts, and
would have many opportunities for advancement and for extending his acquaintanceship.
23. When the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, the king having fallen into one of his fits of despondency and perhaps of raving. David took the harp. The form of the verbs in this sentence implies frequent and repeated action. The harp used by David was a wooden instru
ment strung with gut or with spun Ancient Musical Instruments.
and twisted cord. It was small
enough to be carried around in processions. The strings were plucked sometimes with the fingers and sometimes struck with a plectrum. So Saul was refreshed, and was well. Prof. H. P. Smith translates : “ Saul would breathe freely, and would be well,” understanding Saul's malady as accompanied by fits of suffocation.
QUALITIES THAT SUCCEED IN LIFE. “ David became king because first of all he showed fidelity in the ordinary duties of everyday life. If a bunch of sheep became his opportunity he would do his work in such fashion that no one could do it better. He would lead them in green pastures and by still waters so that they should not want. His rod and his staff would protect them. He would learn the use of sling and stone so that he could sling,' as the old record says, ' at a hair's breadth and not miss.' If a wolf or a bear should attack his flock, he would be able to drive them off.
“ The simple ordinary duties which belong to keeping sheep or to getting one's lessons at school, to meeting one's obligations in some modest position in office or store, or in doing one's best in a factory or on a farm, become a kind of dress rehearsal for the larger duties which lie ahead. You will find whole regiments of fellows who are saving up their energies to do something splendidly effective week after next. But week after next never comes to such men. They have mixed up the words of the promise — they think it reads, “ You have been unfaithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over everything. When a man is going up-stairs he must put his foot first on the step which is at the bottom and then take the other steps in order. The same rule holds in the great business of living a man's life and doing a man's work in the world.” – Rev. Charles R. Brown, D.D.
Outward beauty is a slight element of success compared with a beautiful character. “Not how you look, but what you are, ought to be the first care of your lives ; for if you have a selfish disposition, a sordid soul, or a sinful life, your outward beauty will be like a jewel in a swine's snout,' and your bodily vigor will only be like the strength of a safe in which nothing worth preserving is locked up.” — William M. Taylor.
David, though a boy, had the manly courage without which there is no success in life. Dean Stanley, in his children's sermon on David, uses as an illustration the splendid courage shown by five hundred boys who were on the training-ship Goliath when it burst into ilames from one end to the other, and they all maintained perfect discipline. One boy, William Bolton, was the means of saving more than one hundred lives by keeping a barge alongside the burning ship as long as possible.
He was another David.
“ The real preparation of great minds for any worthy work is found in solitude, and silent communion of the soul with itself and with its God. If hard and exacting work is to be done the real strength, the real source of the power of it comes from this. David, quite young, had learned like Abraham to be alone with the Alone.' Before any of his great works the mighty Son of David, the Son of man, betook himself to solitude and prayer. St. Paul in after years stored up the forces, which he was to expend in such never-ending energy, in his lonely meditations and vigils in Arabia ; and David was prepared for his great work by the hours of solitude by night and by day' among the sheepfolds' of his native hills.” Canon Knox Little.
“ Whatever David is that is spiritual and Godlike is due to the blessed advent of God's Holy Spirit. David is 'the fruit of the Spirit.'” Rev. John Clifford, D.D.
“ The David of Israel is not simply the greatest of her kings; he is the man great in everything. He monopolizes all her institutions. He is her shepherd boy
the representative of her toiling classes. He is her musician the successor of Jubal and Miriam and Deborah. He is her soldier the conqueror of all the Goliaths that would steal her peace. He is her king — numbering her armies and regulating her polity. He is her priest — substituting a broken and contrite spirit for the blood of bulls and rams. He is her prophet presaging with his latest breath the everlastingness of his kingdom. He is her poet all her psalms are called by his name. The truth is, in the estimation of Israel this man is a personification of the nation itself.” – Hastings.
Devotional Reading : Ezek. 34 : 11-16.
Lesson Material : Ps. 23:1-6.
1 Peter 5:7. Junior Topic : THE SHEPHERD PSALM.
Memory Verses: Ps. 23: 1-6.
Additional Material : Matt. 6 : 24-34 ; Phil. 4 :19; 1 Pet. 5 : 7.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
In the Younger Classes the teacher Time. David probably wrote this will tell how an Eastern shepherd takes Psalm in his old age, perhaps in B.C. 1023, care of his sheep, beginning with the the last year of his life. fold and tracing his work through the Place. — It may well be supposed day until he brings the sheep back to that the Psalm was written in Jerusalem, the fold at night. All parts of the and sung there in the services of the Psalm will thus be brought in. Make tabernacle on Mt. Zion. the application that it is thus that Christ, the good Shepherd, leads us
THE ROUND TABLE. through every day and all through our lives.
FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION. The Intermediate Classes will also Customs of an Eastern shepherd. be interested in the details of a shep- Comparisons of God to a shepherd throughout the herd's life, contrasting them with the
The shepherd hymns. practices of western shepherds. Bring Christ the good Shepherd. out the ways in which God was a shep- Christ's shepherd parables. herd to David just as David had been Where the shepherd analogy falls short of the reality. to his sheep. The Older Classes need to dwell a
THE LESSON IN ART. shorter time on the familiar Psalm, but will be led on to discuss the ways of Christ the Good Shepherd, by PlockGod's providence, and the deep, under- hörst, W. C. T. Dobson, T. Molitor, lying reasons for complete trust in him. S. Parker.
THE PLAN OF THE LESSON. R. T. P. Pope, J. D. Burns, A. L. Waring,
Horatius Bonar, Watts, Addison, HeginSUBJECT : God's Loving Care and botham, Rouse, Merrick, Doddridge, Protection.
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY.
Tristram's Natural History of the
Bible. Baroody's The Syrian Shepherd. II. THE PROTECTING SHEPHERD, VS. 3, A fresh and very full treatment in Hast4.
ings's Great Texts of the Bible. CommenMy perplexities and perils.
taries on the Psalms by Perowne, SpurMy doubts and fears. My comfort and confidence.
geon, Briggs, Kirkpatrick, Davison, etc. III. THE PREPARING SHEPHERD, vs. 5, Howard, Stalker, Culross, Gray, Knight
Volumes on the Twenty-Third Psalm by 6.
(The Song of Our Syrian Guest), Duff, God preparing against my enemies. God preparing my destiny.
Mamreov (A Day with the Good ShepGod preparing my eternity.
herd), Eli Barber (The Birthday of the Twenty-Third Psalm), Thorold (The
Presence of Christ). Sermons in Jowett's THE LESSON IN LITERATURE. The Silver Lining, Watkinson's Mistaken
Signs, Shannon's The Enchanted UniMany paraphrases of this Psalm and verse, George Adam Smith's The Forpoems on God and Christ as the Shepherd, giveness of Sins, Caroline Hazard's The by Crashaw, John Skelton, May Byron, College Year, Price Collier's Sermons.
THE TWENTY-Third Psalm. The author is David, and the Psalm reflects his boyhood work on the fields of Bethlehem. “ The reasons for believing this Psalm to be a legacy bequeathed to the people of God by King David are very strong indeed, and the assumption that he is the author throws light on every verse. James Stalker. Most commentators believe that the Psalm was written in David's maturity, embodying the experiences of many years of trustful following of the good Shepherd
THE LITERARY FORM of the Psalm is that of Hebrew poetry, which relied for its effect not on rhyme, but on the matching and balance of ideas, one line being echoed by the following line or contrasted with it.
“ THE CHARACTER OF THIS PSALM OF Psalms lies in its combined simplicity of diction, beauty of conception, and wealth of religious significance. These are blended with an art that is beyond art, attainable only by the trustful human spirit guided by the Divine. The meaning and helpfulness of this perfect little Psalm can never be exhausted so long as men, like sheep, wander and need guidance, and so long as they learn to find it in God their Shepherd.” - New Century Bible. “ The Psalm is unrivalled for calm serenity and perfect faith.” Kirkpatrick. “ It is David's Heavenly Pastoral ; a surpassing ode, which none of the daughters of music can excel.” — C. H. Spurgeon.
“ The hardest and severest passages in the Old Testament find relief if we let the light shine on them from the TwentyThird Psalm.” Phillips Brooks. “ There is no other form of words which the world holds so dear, except perhaps the Lord's Prayer.". Hastings. “I do not believe any man is satisfied with himself until he has set out to follow the Lord as his shepherd. The reason we all love this Psalm is because the simple shepherd's trust is what we instinctively know to be our own need.” Rev. Price Collier.
Probably few Psalms are oftener read, or with stronger feeling, by careless readers than the Twenty-Third, singing of God's grace to the humble, and the TwentyFourth, singing of God's grace to the noble ; and there are probably no other two whose real force is so little thought of.” – John Ruskin.
I. THE PROVIDING SHEPHERD, vs. 1, 2. To the Eastern mind the thought of a shepherd is that of authoritative leadership as well as of kind protection and care. When, as often, a king is called the shepherd of his people, it is meant that he watches over their welfare, but also that he directs their paths. Both ideas are in this Psalm, but the predominant idea is of God's loving and powerful care of his children. That is one reason why the Psalm is so dear to anxious and needy humanity.
1. THE LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
1. Jehovah is my shepherd. God is often in the Bible referred to as the Shepherd of his people : Ps. 74 : 1; 77: 20 ; 78 : 52, 70-72 ;, 79 : 13; 80:1; 95 : 7; 100 : 3 ; Ezek. 34 : 23 ; Mic. 7:14; and so also of Christ : John 10:1-16; Heb. 13 : 20; 1 Pet. 2 : 25. “God has the shepherd-heart, pulsing with love. He has the shepherd-eye, that takes in the whole flock. He has the shepherd-nearness, about us and among us day and night. He has the shepherd-knowledge, understanding our desires better than we do ourselves. He has shepherd-strength, he is able to keep us. He has shepherd-faithfulness, and we may fully trust him. He has shepherd-tenderness, nurturing our life from feebleness to strength.”. Culross. “ The great world is an easy place to lose one's self in, but Jehovah is my shepherd. There is never a night so dark in the valleys that he would not come to search for
There is never a time of danger so dire that he would not stand for me with his rod and staff. There is never a pasture land too luscious for him to lead me to, and never a resting-place by still waters too gracious for him to seek out for me.". Rev. E. W. Work, D.D.
Illustration. “You have seen on a map these words : 'Scale, one inch to a mile.' How far is it from A to B ? Stretch out compasses
' Ten inches.' What does that mean? It means ten miles. That is just the text ; it is one inch to a universe, one inch to infinity ; shepherd' stands for Ineffable, Eternal, Infinite, Unthinkable ;
God on a small scale; God minimized that
may touch the shadow of his garment. Joseph Parker.
Sixteen pronouns of the first person - I, me,
From the Catacombs of St. Callistus. my, mine — in these six brief verses ! This is the
Good Shepherd and the Seasons. Psalm of appropriation, Spring as a boy gathers roses; Summer presents her fruits; Autumn
reaps the ripened ears; Winter as an old man burns the leaves. The Good simply taking as our own Shepherd cares for his sheep all the year round. - Farrar's Life of Christ the Infinite One, with in Art. all that that involves of peace and power and blessedness. “ The Twenty-Third Psalm reveals itself to me as the song of a single sheep, a pet one, and not a sheep in a flock. Consequently it is the song of a human being who feels that God is his own shepherd, his and his only, and that he is the only sheep this Shepherd owns.” — Rev. Anees T. Baroody, Ph.D.
"Happy me! O happy sheep!
That points me to these paths of bliss.” Richard Crashaw. «• The Lord is my shepherd.' He saith not was ; he saith not may be, or will be. “The Lord is my shepherd' — is on Sunday, is on Monday, and is through every day of the week ; is in January, and is in December, and in every month of the year; is at home, and is in China ; is in peace, and is in war; in abundance, and in penury. Let us live in the joy of the truth.” – J. Hudson Taylor.
I shall not want. “God does not say he will supply every one of our desires, but every one of our needs.” — G. Beesley Austin.
“Wherever he may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
And nothing can I lack.' A. L. Waring.