A PSALM OF DAVID.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23: easily one of the most famous passages in scripture; poetic, encouraging, and empowering. This verse depicts God as a shepherd to David as a sheep. In God’s provision, David won’t have any need. It sounds pretty doesn’t it?
Never having spent excessive amounts of time with sheep, I did a little research. (Oh, how I love Google.) Sheep are often considered stupid animals. However, sheep range below pigs in intelligence, but on par with most cattle. In actuality, Sheep aren’t stupid, just easily spooked. Motivated by fear, they never walk in a straight line, and only feel safety when in a herd. Sheep love sheep.
Sheep also love food. Having four stomachs, they will devour a country side quite easily, but are susceptible to many kinds of toxic plant life. While animals can be trained to lead a herd of sheep, another simple method of leading a group of sheep is by placing food before them. They will go wherever the food goes. The stomach leads.
It is also true that sheep can recognize the faces of people taking care of them. They can learn voices, and even be given names and respond to them for years. In time, the care giver- in biblical times and term- a shepherd will be depended on for all of their needs. The sheep will trust the shepherd for protection, and provision.
It has been said, many of times, that men are pigs. I think we are a bit more like Sheep. We too aren’t stupid- just easily spooked. We will run at the first sign of danger, or commitment for that matter, and can be lulled into trust. Men also don’t like to be separated from other men. Don’t believe me? Drop one into a baby shower. Watch him never make direct eye contact, look completely uncomfortable, and look for the first chance to make a run for it.
Joking aside, I find great similarity to myself and sheep. I’m not stupid- just spooked easily. The figurative stomach of my life leads my decisions and direction for everything I do. In my hunger for provision and protecting, and am found wanting.
The wanting in Psalm 23:1 is perplexing. Psalms are written often as statements of belief, or as statements to believe. David experienced many things in life, and there were times, I’m sure- that he was found wanting. He may have written this psalm as a statement to believe.
I often will tell others of God’s protection and provision. I will talk about how God will take care of them, or we should trust in God. In my own life, I find that I say it more than I probably believe it. God, all throughout scripture wants us to see him as the Shepherd that provides.
Ezekiel 34:11-15 (ESV)
11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.
It isn’t a health and wealth concept. It’s a trust concept. If we believe in God, and we claim Christ, then we must look at God from a “sheep” perspective. God is interest in providing for his followers. Not just food, but “good pasture”. It is also a dramatic difference in the way God looks after his sheep. From the words of Jesus:
John 10:14-15 (ESV)
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
My problem: I don’t trust. I like to think of myself as the shepherd. I can protect and provide for myself and my family, and I will be the hero. This is an incorrect and unhealthy view of my importance. Maybe you feel this way too. In reality, we are sheep. We need to learn to trust our Shepherd.
“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.”
If God is my shepherd, then I have to understand, as he always has in our lives, He will protect and provide. My needs are fully met, and I shall not want.
Doesn’t all of this sound nice and pretty? Yes. Easy? No.
I am working on saying this verse as a statement to believe. It’s not just important, it’s crucial. This concept affects the way I live. Maybe this week, this month, or this year you are going through your valley. Maybe you’ve been spooked, or maybe, just maybe you struggle with giving up control in your life. Whatever the case, for the follower of Christ-we serve a good and trusting shepherd.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Say it. It will help us to mean it.