We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get to be an adult, or after we are married, have a good job, start a family, etc. Then we get frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough to mind, or be left alone, or old enough to play sports yet. We believe we’ll be more content when they are older. When the kids become teens, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. Or we tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, and we are able to go on a nice vacation, or definitely when we retire.
Then what happens? We retire, sit on the front porch and remember. What do we remember? We remember how nice the past was; how contented we were.
I believe that we are the ‘half-empty’ generation. Somebody said that instead of having a cup that runneth over, we all have cups that leak out the bottom. Contentment should be an everyday style of living for Christians, but all too often, we find that the only thing filling our cups is fear: Fear that we don’t have enough yet; fear that we are not valuable enough yet; fear that we will be forgotten when we die; and fear that we will face God unprepared.
We see a tremendous contrast in what David felt as he wrote the 23rd PSALM and what our own hearts contain. How could someone write with such contentment and security before the time of hospitals and penicillin; before welfare programs and 401Ks? As we take a closer look at that passage, we discover the answer.
Let us read the PSALM 23:1-4.
(Read passage first time without reading the explanations in parenthesis.)
‘The Lord is my shepherd – I shall not want.
(I shall not lack for anything I need)
He makes me lie down in green pastures – He leads me besides still waters.
(I am given abundance and blessings)
He restores my soul
(I am given peace and assurance)
He leads me in right paths – for His name’s sake
(I live for Him so that I might testify on Jesus’ behalf)
Even though I walk through the valley of death – I fear no evil
(Even when I am in grave spiritual danger, I trust in the Lord)
For You are with me – Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’
(I know the Lord walks with me, and He gives me comfort)
Let’s read it again with an explanation I heard another preacher give one time.
(Read the passage again, with explanation)
David had rock-solid contentment and security in the Lord, didn’t he? What would you be willing to give for that same level of contentment or security in your life? What would you be willing to do in order to have that like David did?
To have that same intense feeling David had, all you have to do is truly trust your Shepherd.
A man pulled up to a red light and saw a truck towing a trailer that was full of sheep. The man rolled down his window and yelled to the truck driver, "You shepherds don’t move your sheep around like you used to."
The truck driver replied rather surly, "I’m not a shepherd; I’m a butcher."
Before David became King, he was a shepherd, and he would tell you that a shepherd’s job was to care for the sheep. In fact, the shepherd was the sole source of safety for the sheep. Without the shepherd, the sheep would surely die in the wilderness. The sheep come to trust the shepherd for everything they have.