About Faith

Be uplifted and find encouragement for your faith with authentic sharing of the ups and downs of life for  today’s Christian female. Read personal experience of faith challenges and how your relationship with Jesus Christ makes an impact on every area of living. At iBelieve.com, we want to help you grow in your personal relationship with Christ and in your daily walk of faith

The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want (Lessons from Psalms 23)

  • Christina Patterson
The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want (Lessons from Psalms 23)

Today I want to share some thoughts on one of the most popular verses in the Bible: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” Psalms 23:1 (ESV).

Through this simple illustration of God being our Shepherd, we see how God tenderly takes care to provide, guide, and protect us.

Interestingly enough, King David, who was once a shepherd himself, wrote this Psalm. Now in Israelite culture, to be a shepherd was considered lowly work given usually to the youngest family member, like David -- who was the youngest of his brothers and overlooked by his father. Now I find it intriguing that David, who was also warrior and then a king, chose to look back at his time as a shepherd to paint a picture of how God cares for our needs.

Why it Matters that God Identifies as Our Shepherd

A shepherd represents a more close and intimate relationship. Whereas a king might do what's best for the majority, a shepherd knows each one of his sheep.

In the parable of the lost sheep Jesus asks:

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? - Luke 15:4 (ESV).

A shepherd has deep concern and care not only for all his sheep as a whole but also for each and every single one.

This is how God cares for us. He knows each of our comings and goings, he knows every hair on our heads, he knows when even one of us is lost and has made every provision to find us through His Son Jesus Christ.

 

The Spiritual Implications of Being Sheep

Now if the Lord is our Shepherd, that makes us the sheep. Prone to wander. Entirely and always reliant on our Shepherd, whether we realize it or not.

But here's what we need to understand: we can't see God as Shepherd if we don't see ourselves as sheep. When we open our eyes to how much we really need and rely on God for everything, the more we realize His provision in our lives. But if we live in the lie that we can do this on our own, we wander and drift away from our true source, looking for satisfaction in artificial places.

So when David says "I shall not want" he is acknowledging how completely reliant he is one God as his Shepherd.

“I shall not want” because God, as a good shepherd, will ensure I have everything I need. “I shall not want,” not because of what I've done or can do but because God loves me. “I shall not want” because I know God personally as Shepherd.

What Does it Mean that, “I Shall Not Want”?

Now notice that this Psalm does not say I shall not need. In Matthew 6, Jesus makes it clear that God is going to provide all our physical needs and we shouldn't even worry about that. Psalm 23, however, says I shall not want, speaking to our desires.

It's saying not only can God take care of my physical needs, but that He can also fulfill me. He can satisfy my heart.

The word "want" in today's text means to lack, decrease, empty, or run dry.

So when David says “I shall not want” he's saying two things:

One, there are areas in my life that only God can fulfill and He will fulfill them.

Two, I've made the decision not to desire anything outside of the scope of what God wants for me.

In this shepherd-sheep relationship with God, I am satisfied. 

“I Shall Not Want” While Walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death:

In the same Psalm where David boldly declares “I shall not want,” he also writes of walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

David didn't say, "I shall not want" in a season of abundance. He said it in a season of darkness. So what that tells me is, this satisfaction that our Shepherd provides is not conditional. We don't have to live by the statements:

If I had this then this. . . . 
If this happened then I would. . . . 
If they accepted me then this. . . . . 

When the Lord is our Shepherd, and His is, then we lack nothing. Period.

Now it's really hard to get to that point because we constantly live in this lack mentality, to always think of what we don't have, haven't done or haven't achieved yet. But this Psalm is telling us it doesn't matter what you've done or accomplished God is enough. When He is leading and guiding us we are not lacking. He will fulfill us in ways that we simply can't on our own. An empty cup cannot pour into itself. A sheep cannot lead itself. We cannot be truly fulfilled without God. But with Him, we shall not want.

I wonder when David said "I shall not want," was it a statement that he already accepted as true, or was it a reminder to himself not to seek satisfaction outside of God.

I wonder how much would our lives change if we didn't live from a mentally of lack but lived by the truth that “the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”

We'd then be able to look at the dry and empty places in our lives and truly see how God is still providing and protecting even when we're walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

We May Not be Where We Want to be, but We Can Trust that God Has Us There for a Reason.

We may not have all we desire, but we trust that God is providing for us every single day
We may not receive the recognition we want, but we trust God sees us and knows exactly where we are
We may be struggling, but we know God will not place more on us than we can bear
We may be struck down, heartbroken, in despair but we trust that the God of the universe has never left our side

We don't say "I shall not want" because we have everything we desire we say it because God is fulfilling every void in our life with Himself. We may not have everything that our heart desires, but we have everything that we need in Christ. I pray that we grow more to see the Lord as shepherd and live from the truth "I shall not want."

Now I'd love to hear from you Beloved, please comment and let me know, how do you see the Lord as Shepherd of our life and how does that fulfill you? I can't wait to chat more in the comments.

-----

Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.

This article first appeared as a blog post on iBelieve: https://www.ibelieve.com/blogs/christina-patterson/i-shall-not-want.html

Article Images from ©Thinkstock and ©Unsplash