Do you like being in charge? Do you ever feel like you’re not in charge of your life anymore? God has something to say to you about being in charge. When you feel like you’re not in charge, you’re right. He’s in charge. And when you feel like you are in charge, you’re wrong. He’s in charge then too.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”–Psalm 23:1 (NASB)
The 23rd Psalm is probably the most familiar and most quoted psalm in the Bible. David, King of Israel, wrote it. If there was anyone who understood what it meant to be in charge, it was King David. But we find the opposite sentiment in his biblical writings. We find a man who, while having a position of great power, openly confessed that he was not in charge at all. The 23rd Psalm is a powerful expression of this truth. Let’s discover what King David knew.
The Lord as Shepherd
If we are sheep, we are not in charge of anything. The shepherd controls everything—where we eat, where we drink, where we rest, when we rest, if we rest, and so on. Sheep can survive without a shepherd, though probably not for very long as they are not equipped to protect themselves from predators. It is best for sheep to have a shepherd.
But what if the shepherd is not very good at shepherding or doesn’t care about his sheep? Then, the sheep may be in real danger. Unlike sheep, we get to choose if we’ll have a shepherd and whom that shepherd will be. David tells us in this psalm that his shepherd is the Lord. And what a good choice David made! The Lord is the Good Shepherd—He does everything for His sheep, caring so much for them that He would give His life for them (John 10:14-15).
I Shall Not Want
A good shepherd provides for all the needs of his flock. The Good Shepherd provides everything we need; we will never be without anything we need, ever! Oh, but we love to use the word “want,” don’t we? We may complain to God, “My cup of ‘wants granted’ is practically empty; what’s the deal?”
Listen closely. Hear that rushing sound? That is our cup of “needs granted” overflowing! Hear all that peace, comfort, goodness, and mercy spilling out? With the Good Shepherd as our shepherd, we will never be in want of anything we need. If fact, we will always have much more than we will ever need. We will have such abundance that we will be able—and we will be called—to pour it into the cups of others.
He Makes Me, Leads Me, and Guides Me
A good shepherd doesn’t pose choices for his flock to consider. The Good Shepherd doesn’t offer up suggestions, either. The Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us to calm streams, and guides us to the righteous path. He knows we will not find them on our own. He knows the world will scatter us from each other and drive us away from the things we need. When we stray, He will use His rod and His staff to bring us back into the fold. If we stray so far that we become lost and completely separated from the rest, He will search us out, find us, and carry us on His shoulders back to the fold (Luke 15:3-7). He keeps the flock together and on the path that will keep our cups overflowing.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
A good shepherd knows that his sheep will not live forever. The Good Shepherd knows this, too. We will all walk through the valley of death. Although we may not want that day to come, the shepherd knows it must. And when it does, the Good Shepherd will be there with us. When we walk through the valley after losing a loved one, He will also be there. He may even use His rod and staff a little to keep us walking because He knows we must continue through the valley to get to the green pastures and still waters on the other side. When we walk through the valley because our own time has come, He will still be there. He will still use His rod and His staff to keep us walking because He knows we must continue through the valley to get to the eternal green pastures, the eternal calm streams, and the eternal banquet table that He has set especially for us.
He is the Good Shepherd.
He is the Great Shepherd.
He is the Greatest Shepherd of all.
That’s the truth.
The Lord is your shepherd,
You shall not want.
He makes you lie down in green pastures;
He leads you beside still waters.
He restores your soul;
He guides you in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
You will fear no evil, for He is with you;
His rod and His staff, they comfort you.
He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies;
He has anointed your head with oil;
Your cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life,
And you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
That’s the YouTruth. The Lord is your shepherd.
© 2008, 2011 Dan Buckhout