Psalm 23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. This could very easily be one of the most famous verses in the bible. For the most part, every time I have said that prayer, I casually run through the verses till I get to my favorite part, “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Boy do I say that with so much conviction but today, I felt God asking me to slow down with the scripture so here goes:
The first and most important thing I realized was that the “Lord is my shepherd” is a preamble to the whole prayer not just “I shall not want”. I can confidently claim the benefits of this prayer in its entirety if and only if the Lord is my shepherd.
So what does it mean to have the Lord as my shepherd?
I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 Berean study Bible
Note that at this point Jesus had not yet been physically crucified but He did not say, “I will lay down my life”. He said, “I lay down My life”. The Lord Jesus, our shepherd, has already paid the ultimate sacrifice and yet He is prepared to do it all over again if that’s what it takes so that you are part of his fold.
I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16 Berean Study Bible
As a shepherd, Jesus knows me. He doesn’t only know my name (Isaiah 43:2). He knows everything about me (Psalm 139:1-4) and wants me to be solely reliant on Him for everything. His love defends me when wolves (the storms of life) come (John 10:12, Ezekiel 34:12). He is concerned about me (1 peter 5:7). He delights in every detail of my life (Psalm 37:23). He is intentional about me and will leave the other 99 sheep to come after me when I go astray.
And what are the implications for me?
The sheep (me) knows the shepherd. I must know the voice of the shepherd. I must not answer to any other but the voice of my shepherd. I must trust my shepherd completely knowing that He has my best interests at heart. I must rely on His guidance and direction. I must be comforted by His rod and staff even if it is a rod/ staff of discipline. And when I find myself in a place of uncertainty, a place a sorrow, a place of despair, I will not be afraid or let my heart be troubled because I know he is selflessly with me.
So the next time I say Psalm 23, I am going to say it with understanding of the privilege I enjoy with Jesus as my shepherd and the identity and responsibilities I have as a sheep.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 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 the sake of His name Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Amen.