“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
No, not that kind of want. David wasn’t saying, “I want a newer staff,” or “I want a larger flock,” over even, “I want an iScroll 5.” The shepherd turned king didn’t mean want the same way that we use it today. This want had nothing at all to do with desire.
It’s not the “wishy” sort of want.
It’s not the covetous sort of want.
It’s not a keeping up with the Philistines sort of want.
Can you imagine David writing, “The Lord is my genie, I will never run out of wishes.”??
Yet, so often, that is how we unintentionally read this verse and, in turn that is why the rest of the chapter hasn’t completely bloomed in our hearts.
We’re thinking about arriving at a place of contentment like Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:6-8
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
Not David. While he may have been content and understood the doctrine of biblical contentment, he was neither pondering nor proposing it here.
So, what does this want mean? It means to lack something essential.
You’ve watched an old movie where charmer tells the beauty, “You shall have want of nothing…” That’s what David declares in the 23rd psalm…Since the Lord is my shepherd, I won’t ever lack anything.
- Physical Needs – He provides us, his sheep, with a home (He maketh me to lie down….), food (…in green pastures) and drink (…beside the still waters.)
- Spiritual Needs – When our soul needed to be rescued from sin, he restored it. As we grow weary and the cares of this world weigh our souls down, our Shepherd is faithful to refresh our souls. He does this by showing us how to live in a godly manner. Think about it this way…my soul is refreshed by the example of Jesus’ holy life and his constant encouragement of me to do the same. Now, read verse three again, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
- Emotional Needs – We have comfort in times of fear and loss. He drives away the fear of the unknown. He walks through the valley with us. He will never forsake us. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
- Social Needs – He’s a friend even when enemies are all around. An interesting study, if you’ve never done it before is one on the hospitality of Jesus. A huge part of his ministry here on earth took place at parties and around tables. He taught parables, performed miracles, loved people. You’ll find that Jesus didn’t have much tolerance for social status, but don’t ever think that our shepherd isn’t concerned about our social well-being. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; thy cup runneth over.” He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
Finally, David concludes his hymn like every good writer. He sums up the initial premise, restating it in a different way. In essence, he says, “I’ll never lack anything because I’m going to live in the master’s house forever.”
When we live in the Lord’s house, nobody goes hungry, nobody gets scared or stays sad. He takes complete care of us. Always.
That’s what happens when the Lord is your shepherd. What about you? Is he your shepherd?