Psalm 23:1 (esv)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Over the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to get this verse out of my head! It usually starts with just the verse rolling around up there (I am guessing there is plenty of space!), and ends up with the Keith Green rendition wandering around with it.
I am thinking, God is trying to tell me something. Does that ever happen to you?
So, as part of what God is trying to tell me, I will share some of my thoughts here with you.
The Lord is my shepherd.
This part of the verse is a double declaration. Firstly, David (the psalmist who wrote this) is declaring ‘The Lord’. That God is Lord over all, that God is in control. Secondly, he is immediately declaring allegiance ‘The Lord is MY shepherd’. My. That is a personal declaration of headship, that David firmly beleives in God, and trusts Him with his life. It is not claiming God as ‘his own’, but the exact opposite – he ‘belongs to God’.
What is the role of the shepherd? To provide, to protect, to guide, to heal.
By declaring that the Lord is my shepherd, David is declaring that the Lord will guide him, protect him, provide for him and heal him. And I think this leads to the second part of the verse perfectly.
I shall not want.
This is both a declaration of faith and intention.
Of faith – David is trusting the Lord to provide for him. To look after him. To guide him. To heal him. David shall not want, because God will provide no matter what the circumstance. The Lord will provide exactly what David needs ‘for His names sake’ (vs 3)
Of intention – David is also declaring that he is going to submit his will to God. His desires to God. His wants to God. He is declaring that he shall not want for anything, because God will not only provide but He will also guide.
One of the problems with ‘wanting’ is that it is not always a Godly desire. The things that reside in our heart are not always the best for us, and are not always in Gods will. By wanting, and driving ourselves towards those wants, we can often drive ourselves away from Gods plan for our lives. He knows what we are going to do – but that doesn’t mean what we do will be the best for us!
What shall we do?
What shall we then do, in light of David’s example? I think it is already obvious, to agree with David and declare in our own lives ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’.
If we are to read the Lords Prayer again in Matthew 6:10-11, you will see this is also covered in there. ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread‘. We are declaring that our desire is not to live by our wants and desires! But to live by Gods will and desire, that His kingdom would come, and His will be done. We are also praying that we don’t just get what we want, but are provided for that day the things we need to get through.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
Lord God, thank you for the example of your servant David. Help us to be like him and also declare that You alone are our shepherd, that we commit ourselves completely to your care. Help us to see that it is not our desires in this life that will bring your Kingdom, but your will alone. Help us, teach us, guide us, protect us and provide for us like sheep, just as we put our complete faith and trust in you. In Jesus Name. Amen.