Feeding 5000 – The 23rd Psalm

Posted on January 4, 2015

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This is the fourth message from the story of the feeding of five thousand. In today’s message the pattern of the good shepherd.

Psalms 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4  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. 5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6  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.

We all see artwork depicting Jesus as the good shepherd, often with a lamb across his shoulders or in the midst of some sheep.  There is one clue in the feeding of the five thousand that alerts us that Jesus is demonstrating many of the attributes of the shepherd of Psalms 23 and that is the green pastures.

Psalms 23:2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

Interestingly enough the reference to green pastures or green grass is only used in two situations in the Bible, Psalms 23 and the feeding of the five thousand where the people are commanded to sit down in the grass, specifically green grass in Mark’s gospel.

Commanded to Sit In Green Grass

Even David said “He maketh me to lie down” similar language in the gospels where the people are command or are made to set in the green grass. I would be thinking it would be natural to find a grassy place to have a picnic but the Lord finds us in a dessert place, as Matthew writes, heals and delivers us then cares for our basic needs of food. Often people live is such a desolate place both physically and spiritually that we do not know how to respond to blessing and Jesus helps us to receive.

Matthew 14:15  And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Today’s Enemy

The good shepherd prepares a place in the presence of our enemy.  In David’s time that was both the people of the land and King Saul but for us today the enemy could be just the lack of the Good Shepherd in our lives and the cares of this world. The Good Shepherd comes to where the need is and cares for us and feeds us on the table he has prepared, no matter what our enemy may be.

My Cup Runneth Over

So interesting that this multitude, in need of the Good Shepherd, had nothing but in His presence they were fed to their fill, as well as their physical and spiritual needs ministered to also  and there was so much over flow that twelve baskets of extras were taken up willingly. This is so much what David wrote of describing blessings of the Lord.

Where the Lord is There is Order

In the revival/renewal type churches there often is celebration of freedom and liberation from religious traditions. The expression of freedom many times goes too far and order and purpose is lost.

Mark 6: 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40  And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.

As previously stated, the people were commanded what to do and a part of that was created groups of hundreds and fifties. If you really think of the task of only twelve disciples serving five thousand people, that was an overwhelming task in its self, even without the miracle of multiplication of food. With such a great miracle in process real down to earth order was needed and this was achieved by people submitting to the Good Shepherd and his disciples, following directions and receiving their blessing.

Separation From the Multitude

David was a man of mistakes at times but still looked at by God as a man after his own heart. In no way was David a part of the crowd and an average or casual believer. David states his passion in the end of the twenty third Psalm as being fully devoted all the days of his life.

Psalms 23: 6 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.

David chose to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever and this is the fact that separated him from a casual believer or the multitude. That conscious decision to see and experience the blessing of the Lord and follow close as a disciple and later moving into more responsibility as a leader in the kingdom seals us in a place of perpetual blessing that the multitude only occasionally sees. The disciples after collecting the twelve baskets could truly say, “I shall not want.”

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