As we go through life, there are plenty of challenges that can disrupt our peace of mind. At times peace can seem elusive as we consider areas of want and need in our lives. David in the Old Testament faced a number of troubles that he was able to overcome when he reflected upon God as his great shepherd. He ponders that truth in the 23rd Psalm,
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
Charles Spurgeon writes of this Psalm, “It has been said that what the nightingale is among birds, that is this divine ode among the psalms, for it has sung sweetly in the ear of many a mourner in his night of weeping, and has bidden him hope for a morning of joy.” A proper view of God and of our selves is necessary for a life of fulfillment. When we understand the true nature of God and our relationship to Him, then peace is the result. David addressed God as the LORD. He uses the self-existent, covenant keeping name for the one true God.
There is a noble confidence in this verse, David uses the present tense that the LORD is his shepherd. Not that He will be, or might be, but that He is his shepherd. As a shepherd, David knew firsthand the responsibilities of a shepherd as well as the weaknesses of sheep. Sheep are dependent upon their shepherd to lead and feed them.
Because the LORD was his shepherd, David concluded, “I shall not want.” The Hebrew word for “want” has the idea to lack, be deficient, or have a need. The remainder of this Psalm reveals how the LORD cares for us. We see that our Shepherd provides for us, both physically and spiritually,
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. (Psalm 23:2-3)
Next, we see that He protects us,
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. (Psalm 23:4)
David changes from the third to the second person, revealing intimacy. What is your response when you feel like you’re in darkness? As frightening and foreboding as death may seem, it can neither hurt nor destroy the child of God. Bible teacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, was driving with his three children, all under the age of twelve, after the death of his wife. The day of the funeral, Barnhouse and his family were driving to the service when a large truck passed them, casting a noticeable shadow across their car. Turning to his oldest daughter, who was staring sadly out the window, Barnhouse asked, “Would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow?”
Looking curiously at her father, she replied, “By the shadow, I guess. It can’t hurt you.” Speaking to all his children, he said, “Your mother has not been run over by death, but by the shadow of death. That is nothing to fear.”
Finally, we see that the LORD wants to prosper you,
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. (Psalm 23:5-6)
Sheep are often susceptible to attacks from flies and they can go mad trying to escape the flies. When the shepherd anoints the sheep’s head it can keep the flies away. An overflowing cup represents a joy filled life. David declares that his destiny is secure. Do you see God as your great shepherd? He is able to give you joy in the present and security for the future.
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
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