This week in my Living on the Rock Bible Study, we took a long, lovely look at Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Most commentaries view this Psalm as one David wrote at the end of his life, looking back and reflecting. As he looks back over this life, this is his story: God’s provision, protection, and presence. Despite having seasons of lack, David’s testimony is that God did not leave him in those places.
Some of you might be in seasons of want right now (or just especially empathetic to the suffering of the world, so you feel the want of others) – and so “God is my Shepherd, I shall not want” might really bother you. In a season of want, it is hard to hear an older person look back over their lives and say, “God always provided” – because we want to know WHEN? And WHAT ABOUT ME?
Be encouraged! David lived a crazy life – a strife-filled, dangerous life; youngest of many brothers, not even considered by his father when Samuel showed up to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the new king. Pursued and hated by his predecessor King Saul. Years after being anointed as the new king, he was still in hiding and on the run. He fought wars, he committed adultery and murder and neglect, his family was a MESS. But this was his testimony, looking back over his life: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me by quiet waters.
So be encouraged if your life is feeling messy or crazy or dangerous, the opposite of quiet waters and green pastures. Your story is not over yet.
Can you trust God with the want in your life?
Too often I want to spiritualize this sort of statement – “Oh, it must just mean I won’t be in spiritual want.”
But I’m learning to instead take my frustration and my WHENs and WHAT ABOUT MEs to God and ASK Him about them, and then wait for the answer.
Maybe. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope. Maybe, like David we’ll also get to the end of our lives and look back and say, “With God as my Shepherd, I lack nothing”?
God is my Shepherd. I shall not want.