“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”
[ p s a l m 2 3 : 1 – 3 ]
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with anxiety, fearful or just tired? I know you have, because you my friend are a human being. And I love this passage of scripture because it really opens up the eyes of our hearts in this area. Let me explain what these verses mean, because I promise they are life-changing once you understand the context and you get past the fact that you are being compared to a sheep!
The Lord is my shepherd
David, the author of this Psalm, started off as a shepherd boy. He compares God to his shepherd the same way he was a shepherd to his own flock. The fact that God chose to compare Himself to a shepherd says a lot about Him. At the time that this was written, a shepherd was considered the position for those at the bottom of the food chain. It was a task given to the youngest son in the family because it was the job that nobody wanted. It is interesting knowing that God willing chooses to be our Shepherd because it is such a great responsibility caring for and meeting the needs of His people. And notice how David says “MY Shepherd.” He knew that a relationship with the Shepherd is so personal, because David had personally cared for each of his sheep. In the same way, we have the complete freedom to call the Lord “MY God,” because we must never forget that God is not some unreachable person that has too much to do than to know us. He is a personal God that knows YOU personally, and He will pursue you personally.
The roles of a shepherd:
- He lives with his flock
- He protects the flock from wolves
- He acts as a physician to the sheep
- He is the guide to water and safety
- He looks out for the flock’s best interest
- He knows the needs of his flock
- He goes after every single sheep that tries to wander off because every sheep is valuable
- He uses his staff to keep a sheep from walking towards danger or getting lost
So that makes me a sheep… Why a sheep?
Unfortunately, sheep are pretty foolish at times. They wander often. They get lost. They will continue walking right off a cliff if the shepherd would let them. They do not know when it is time to rest. They are unable to protect themselves for dangerous wolves. They cannot find their source of water on their own. They are unable to rest when there is friction among the flock, when they are afraid, or when they are anxious about food. They are completely dependent on the shepherd; they have no chance without him. They NEED a shepherd. They learn to trust their shepherd because of the personal relationship they have with him. They have learned that no matter what, the shepherd is there to guide them, protect them and provide for them. And the shepherd has such concern over their lives.
So… this sounds like me! I have the nature of a foolish sheep at times. I know that I can easily find myself wandering in the wrong direction and sure enough God, my good Shepherd, is faithful to draw me back to where I need to be. And sometimes it’s with His rod that hurt a little in the moment, but He will only direct me back to the path of righteousness out of love. His desire is good for me always. I know that in the past my anxiety would keep me up at night as I questioned if I would have enough to cover my bills that month. There have been countless times when God has forced me to rest, because I would work myself too hard, keep myself too busy or stress my needs until it caused anxiety. He even keeps me from my own wants! I think I want something, but God knows that want will just be dissatisfying and keeps me from it. It seems only logical for me to trust my Shepherd by now! He is always faithful in meeting my needs, because He knows my needs better than me; what do I know? I’m just a sheep.
“i shall not want”
This is a big one. We know that God knows us, cares for our needs, and has a personal relationship with us. But, this verse is so powerful because it makes a declaration. It is basically saying: “I trust God to fulfill my needs as I abandon my dissatisfied want.” We know that we will undoubtedly wander and lead ourselves down the wrong path if we do not allow God to be the one to be our Caretaker. That means we want to decide and declare that we need HIM and we want nothing other than to trust Him to take care of us.
Always remember: There is no satisfaction in want, and there is never want in the satisfaction of trusting God with your needs.
My personal choice:
I am learning to surrender my want to Him and to desire nothing more than what is given to me by my Shepherd. I am choosing to trust God to be the fulfillment of my every need and that I have learned that my want will never satisfy. And I will thank God for the temporary pain of His rod guiding me back to where I belong every time I try to wander off.
Reflect on your life for a moment and remember all the times that you felt “protected” or “spared” or maybe you felt like God was using someone or something to speak directly to you or to show you something. How many times has your Shepherd led you to rest, used His rod out of love, or blessed you on His righteous path?
- Your challenge is to just see how personal God is in your life, and to remind yourself that no matter what doubts come up or how many times you have wandered away, God chose to be your personal Shepherd because He loves you. And no one can ever take that truth away from you.
- Also remind yourself that God knows all your needs, and we must practice to rest in His providence and reject the feeling inside that “want” inside of us, because it will only lead to dissatisfaction.