Summary: God, our Shepherd, knows how to supply our needs
At a reception, a famous actor was asked to give a recitation. An old preacher suggested the twenty third psalm. He did it with great oratorical skill & sat down to prolonged applause. Then he turned to the old preacher & asked him to recite the psalm also. In a weak & trembling voice, the kindly man uttered the same simple Psalm, but no one applauded this time. People began surreptitiously (secretly) to wipe away their tears. The actor rose again. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I communicated with your ears and your eyes. I know the words. But my old friend here communicated with your hearts. He knows the Shepherd.”
The 1st verse of Psalms 23 sets the tone for the entire Psalms, David says the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. David expresses total dependence and satisfaction in the Shepherd.
David describes God not as "a" Shepherd or even "the" Shepherd but as "my" Shepherd, which pictures the personal, intimate concern God has for every aspect of the life of His "sheep". Yes, God is the "high & exalted One Who lives forever, Whose name is Holy" but He draws near to care for His "lowly" sheep. (see Is 57:15)
Keep in mind that "shepherds" in the Oriental world were not the most respected profession & yet the One possessing all power & Who knows no limits, stoops to identify with a shepherd.
What practical difference does the liberating truth that He is my personal Shepherd make in my life? David ties the character and person of God to his personal satisfaction when he says; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
David declares that because of who God is in my life I have everything I need and I don’t want for anything.
Phillip Keller in his book "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" emphasizes that "nothing so quieted & reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master & owner & protector put them at ease as nothing else could do...in the Christian’s life, there is no substitute for the keen awareness that my Shepherd is nearby.... There is nothing like Christ’s presence to dispel the fear, the panic, and the terror of the unknown.... it is the knowledge that my Master, my Friend, my Owner has things under control even when they may appear disastrous. This gives me great consolation, repose, and rest."
He, Phillip Keller, once a shepherd himself, relates that the strange thing about sheep is that because of their very makeup, it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met.
(1) due to their timidity, they must be free from all fear.
(2) because of their sociability, they must be free from friction with others of their kind.
(3) they must be free from flies or parasites if they are to relax.
(4) they will not lie down unless free from hunger.
It is only the shepherd who can provide release from all these anxieties.
David’s satisfaction is independent of any outer circumstances but lies in the providential care of the Shepherd. How can David live with such confidence and satisfaction? What can we learn from David that will help us to live in the same satisfaction regardless of our situation?
I believe this text is tailored to teach us, in a nutshell, one thing:
God, our Shepherd, knows how to supply our every need.
Here in this powerful declaration of David, there are three observations of content living in the divine providential care of the Shepherd.
I. The Dangers of Preventing of Satisfaction
While we don’t know the circumstances surrounding the writing of this Psalms, I do believe there is some tension. The tension lies between the providential care of God and our confidence level believing that God can meet our needs.
It’s easy to quote, recite, rehearse, and memorize this verse for consolation and encouragement when all is well in our lives. It’s easy to be satisfied confidence:
- When bills are paid.
- When your house is not in foreclosure.
- When food is on the table.
- When you have a job to go to
- When you can take vacations when ready
- When you’re able to buy clothes by your favorite designer and the best stores
- When you can eat the best foods, drink the best juices, and drive the best cars
- When the marriage is everything you hoped it would be
- When the bank account is full
- When your credit score is 750 and above
Being able to say; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” is an easy thing to do.
But happens when the house is in foreclosure, you loss your job, you can’t take a vacation, you’re going through a divorce, you can’t buy the best food and clothing, you’re faced with the decision the file BK, and your car is repossessed. Can you still say with confidence, I’m satisfied with God alone?