Verse: Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Have you ever heard the old adage, “Write what you know”? Well, if there were two things David knew, they were the heart of God (Acts 13:22) and what it meant to be a shepherd. So, what does it mean?
1) Provision – Sheep are not predators. It is the shepherd’s responsibility to lead the sheep to a pasture where they can be nourished, or a stream where their thirst can be quenched. In the same way, we can trust God to provide the sustenance we require (Luke 12:24).
2) Protection – Sheep have no means to defend themselves. While convincing Saul to let him face Goliath, David casually mentions that he has killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands. NBD – just another day in the life of a shepherd! We too are defenseless against the attacks of the evil one, except when God and his armor protect us.
3) Nurture – When a sheep is injured or sick, it has no ability to heal itself. The shepherd will care for it and nurse it back to health. 1 Peter 2:24 reminds us that we are the beneficiaries of the greatest act of nurture ever. And when a sheep wanders off (which we’re all prone to do from time to time), the shepherd will not stop searching until he finds that sheep and brings it back into the fold. Praise God he has promised to do the same for us!
Now, what about “I shall not want”? Is David saying that if we trust in God, we will never desire anything? Of course not. Because the word “want” here is not referring to what we desire. It’s used to mean “lack”. Other translations read “I lack nothing”. But what he IS saying is that, if we trust in God, he will never fail to provide for us everything that we need, just like a shepherd never fails to do so for his sheep.
Mere hours before sitting down to write this, I learned I had been laid off from my job. Nothing like a real-life event to give you renewed perspective on the passage you’ve been assigned, right?! While it’s certainly not the choice I would have made for myself at this time, I’m choosing to trust God will shepherd me and my family through this rocky place until we reach the next pasture by a stream. If you find yourself in a situation where it feels like you are wanting (lacking), I pray you’ll be reminded on a daily basis that the Shepherd is still watching over you.
God, thank you for promising to provide for, protect, and nourish me. Help me to trust in you, even when it feels like I’m in need. Amen.