Summary: This is the second message in a series that takes a fresh look at Psalm twenty-three. This message examines how the Lord as our Shepherd provides for us.
The words “I shall not be in want,” “I lack nothing” or “I’ll have all that I need,” depending on your translation produce within our minds a particular picture. In fact it almost sounds as if it is providing evidence to back up the ever popular health and wealth gospel. If I just follow Jesus I will never want or desire anything. If we are really honest, this almost sounds as if it is too good to be true. “Come on! If I really take my wish list to God, will He really fill it just like Santa Claus?” Although it may sound like it, this is not at all the message David is trying to get across. The problem all boils down to perspective. Our culture has blurred the lines between wants and needs. Advertisers are telling us that we always need the bigger and better and the newest and the greatest. Right? If I want it there is no reason I shouldn’t have it. Our culture’s consumer mentality keeps us from truly seeing the true meaning of David’s words. What David is presenting is the reality of God’s care for His people. The bottom line is that there will never be a time in our lives when God will not provide us with what we genuinely need. Still not seeing it? Well that is probably because you are like me, there are things that you honestly believed that you needed that God has not provided. Well remember what I said earlier, the culture has blurred the lines between our needs and our wants. So the question is; was it really a need or a want that God didn’t provide? Today our goal is to try to wade through all the misconceptions and truly arrive at an understanding of exactly what David is saying in this passage.
I. Unpacking the meaning of David’s statement.
A. The image of a Shepherd would have invoked thoughts of care and provision in the minds of those in ancient Israel.
1. A sheep is in the greatest danger when it was separated from the flock. The shepherd would work diligently to keep all the sheep together.
2. The Shepherd would work to provide his sheep with all the necessary provisions.
3. A good shepherd would pay special attention to the weak and sick sheep. Helping them regain their strength and working to help them regain their health.
4. The Shepherd would be on the job 24/7 paying attention to every detail in order that every need of his sheep would be properly met.
5. The health and welfare of the sheep is dependent totally upon the care that is provided by the shepherd.
B. The deep meaning that is contained within David’s words.
1. The literal translation of this statement in Hebrew is “I suffer no lack.”
2. The shepherd made sure that their sheep lacked nothing that was necessary for their well being.
3. David knew this truth from experience but he isn’t the first to make this discovery about God. Moses who also had some experience as a shepherd made the same discovery 450 years earlier.
4. The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. (Deuteronomy 2:7—NIV 2011)
5. The interesting thing is that Moses makes the same choice of words as David when he speaks of not lacking anything under the Lord’s provision.
6. So both Moses and David are saying that when we are under the care of the Lord, He will make sure that our true needs are taken care of.
7. David’s words express both present and future confidence in the Lord’s faithful provision.
II. Discovering why this statement is confusing for modern readers.
A. The consumer mentality of our culture has blurred the lines between want and need.
1. Basic human needs are constantly being redefined by our culture.
2. Traditionally the basic human needs have been listed as food, clothing and shelter.
3. Basic needs are those things that we absolutely need to survive.
4. The problem is that our culture has expanded this list to include things that are seen as being necessary to enable us to not just survive but to be comfortable.
5. In fact the modern idea of basic human needs have expanded the list from three to sixty-five.
B. What we believe that we need and what we actually need are vastly different.
1. We need to ask ourselves this question. “What do I need in order to live?”
2. The majority of our lists would include things beyond those three very basic human needs.
3. This is not due to changing times. This is due to the fact that our culture has convinced us that we are entitled to more. If we are entitled to something then it must be a need.