The Lord Is My Shepherd, And I Lack Nothing.
Psalm 23:1: "The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want."
When I was two, I wanted a little red wagon.
When I was three, I wanted a tricycle.
When I was nine, I wanted a bicycle.
When I was sixteen, I wanted a car.
When I was twenty one, I wanted a new car.
My wanter has been active all my life.
I must say that I have not always gotten what I wanted.
I know people who have started out their married life in a small apartment.
Then, they wanted a new home.
After that, they wanted a bigger home.
I know some who would say they want a million dollars.
There are many who grew up expecting to have an affordable, college education,
a high-paying job, a nice home in the suburbs, great health care, thriving children,
two cars in the garage, great annual vacations, and security for retirement years.
Many have grown up believing that they deserved happiness -- that they are entitled to it.
Some years ago, Janis Joplin sang:
"O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz!
My friends all drive Porsches, and I must make amends.
I've worked hard all my life, little help from my friends,
So O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?"
That was her expectation.
What are yours?
The way we interpret the phrase, "I shall not want," reveals the way we look at the world
and how we understand our true needs.
Too often, we take things that are merely desires, and come to believe that they are real needs.
What do we really want from life?
I believe that the things we really want,and the things we think we want are not always the same thing.
We say we want this or that, but later, it turns out that we really wanted something else.
There is an event in the New Testament that provides us an illustration of this contradiction.
This young man comes running to Jesus, and knelt in His presence, and said:
"Good teacher, what must I do to share everlasting life?"
You would think that this man knew what he wanted.
This man ran to Jesus.
He knew where he was going, and was in a hurry to get there.
He knelt before Jesus which was an indication of humility and a willingness to learn.
He asked a specific question.
He wanted what only Jesus could give him.
But when Jesus told him how he could have eternal life, he was disappointed in what Jesus told him.
Jesus said: "Sell what you have and give it to the poor... After that, come and follow me."
But he went away sorrowing.
What he thought he wanted, he was not willing to do what was necessary to have it.
It turned out that what he really wanted was temporary riches.
That was the thing for which he was willing to pay the price.
That is the valid test of a person's true goals in life.
There is an old saying: "Be careful what you wish for, because you may get it."
Many times what we want is not what we need.
That same thing can take place in your life and in mine.
And it is usually so subtle that we are not even aware of it.
We tell ourselves that we really want to have something of great value, when all the time,
we are really seeking something that will not cost us a lot.
It is easy for us to see this struggle in the life of this rich young ruler.
He was rich.
He was powerful.
He belonged to the ruling class.
He was a successful man.
But having all of that, he had not found the life everlasting that he desired and really needed.
It is not wrong to think about our needs.
Our problem is where we go to get our needs met.
Often, we go to our family hoping that they can help us meet what we consider as our urgent needs.
It is logical that we would look to those who have helped us, and still offer help.
But the only one who can meet our deepest and most important needs is our Lord -- our great Shepherd.
So what do we do?
Where do we go?
The important answer to those questions is found in Psalm 23:1:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
When David spoke of Yahweh as his shepherd, he thought of Him, not only as his provider
and protector, but also as his king.
He thought of God as his shepherd and with all that meaning conveyed.
Because God was David's shepherd, he lacked (wanted) nothing.
A good shepherd is all a sheep needs since a good shepherd, by his very nature will supply
all of the sheep's needs.
David meant that since he had the Lord as his shepherd, he had no other want; he lack nothing.
If the Lord is my Shepherd, then it follows as naturally as night follows day, that "I shall not want."
He is able to supply all our needs, and there is none other who can.
Let us consider some of the wants that the Good Shepherd will supply.
If the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want for rest and refreshment.
We shall find in him complete satisfaction for all the hungers and thirsts of our souls.
The sheep lie down in green pastures because their hunger has been satisfied,
and because of the presence of the shepherd, they feel secure.
And the same time, our Good Shepherd meets our needs.
He declares: "I am the bread of life, He that cometh to me shall never hunger;
and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)
He alone can satisfy the hungers of our soul.
He also meets the need of our weary hearts for rest.
He stands in our presence to-day, as he stood long centuries ago, saying to us
as we go our feverish and fear-filled ways:
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. 11:29)
David's words are the complete opposite to the Madison Avenue propaganda where we are constantly
being told that we have many needs, and those needs can be met by buying some new (or old) product.
We need "sex appeal" so we must buy a new toothpaste, a new kind of mouthwash
and a new brand of soap.
We need self-confidence and a better self-image, therefore we must wear stylish clothing
determined by the clothing industry.
Our whole way of thinking is centered in our wants.
David is telling tells us that our great Shepherd will provide everything we need.
He who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-caring, is enough.
He is sufficient, and with Him, we need nothing else.
Psalm 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but thee?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever."
We must be very careful that we do not take this too far.
David did not mean that with God as his shepherd, he had everything that
one could possibly desire or possess; as this would be wrong to think that
that Israel never did without anything while in the wilderness. (cf. Deut. 2:7)
The clear meaning of David's statement in Psalm 23:1 is that as one of God's sheep
he will lack nothing which is necessary for his needs.
Of course we have many real needs.
We have health needs.
We certainly have a need for our daily bread;
There are those good people who have instances in which the God of Abraham revealed
himself to them as Jehovah-Jireh; and, as they look forward to the future,
their confident cry is, "The Lord will provide."
There are many throughout our nation and our throughout world that have to ask:
"Where shall I get bread for today?"
This should be a Scripture for them, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
Remember God's promise, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land,
and verily thou shalt be fed." (Psalm 37:3 )
What is our need?
"Is it grace? Christ is "full of grace."
Is it power? "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."
Is it comfort? Christ is "the Consolation of Israel."
Is it supply? "He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd."
Is it counsel? "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor."
Is it sympathy? "He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities." "Jesus wept."
Our good Shepherd knows our needs, and He is capable of meeting all
of these genuine needs -- no exceptions.
Some years ago, Carl Menninger wrote: "There's a vague emptiness within the heart of modern man ...
It may sound surprising when I say on the basis of my own clinical practice as well as on that
of my psychological and psychiatric colleagues, that the chief problem of people
in the late decades of the twentieth century is emptiness.
By that I do not only mean that people do not know what they want.
They often do not have any clear idea of what they feel.
When they talk about the lack of wholeness and lament their inability to make decisions,
difficulties which are present in all decades, it soon becomes evident that their underlying problem
is that they have no definite experience of their own desires or wants.
Thus they feel swayed this way and that with painful feelings of powerlessness
because they feel vacuous, empty."
Do you know anybody like that?
People without a purpose -- without meaning in their life?
Dr. Robert Audrey has written: "I feel a restiveness in man -- a dissatisfaction of a universal sort.
The average human being, as I judge, is uneasy.
He is like a man who is hungry, gets up at night, opens the refrigerator door and doesn't exactly see
what he wants because he doesn't know what he wants.
He closes the door and goes back to bed.
Then the whole process is repeated."
What we want and what we need, is to know that, despite it all, everything is good
because we have a good Shepherd..
He lets us know that we belong.
He assures us that He truly cares for us.
Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, laid down His life for His sheep demonstrating the fact
that He really cares and loves us.
Paul is reminds us in Romans 8 that a God who gave His own Son to die for us
can be trusted to give us everything else we really need.
If God has already given the most important gift, He will not be stingy with the small stuff.
Do we believe this about our Shepherd?
Do we trust His goodness and power?
Or do we go off trying to fill the emptiness on our own?
Are their some saying:
"The Lord is my Shepherd -- but He doesn't know my needs?
The Lord is my Shepherd -- but He doesn't really care?
The Lord is my Shepherd -- but He moves too slowly?"
Oh, no! None of these are true!
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
Verse one: I shall not want for anything.
"I shall not want" -- Psalm 23
Verse two: I shall not want for rest.
"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures"
Verse two: I shall not want for peace.
"He leadeth me beside still waters"
Verse three: I shall not want for forgiveness.
"He restoreth my soul"
Verse three: I shall not want for holiness.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness"
Verse four: I shall not want for faith.
"Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
Verse four: I shall not want for fellowship.
"For thou art with me"
Verse four: I shall not want for comfort.
"Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Verse four: I shall not want for comfort.
"Thy rod and staff they comfort me"
Verse five: I shall not want for provisions.
"Thou preparest a table before me"
Verse five: I shall not want for abundance.
"My cup runneth over."
Verse six: I shall not want for anything in this life.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"
Verse six: I shall not want for anything in the life to come.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever"
This great chapter should cause us to realize how blessed we are!
The Hebrew phrase "I shall not want" is more accurately said as, "I shall lack for nothing."
That is saying that God will give us everything we really need.
I remember hearing about a sign in a hardware store that read:
"If we don't have it, you don't really need it."
David is telling us something similar when he said,
"What we have in God is greater than anything this world offers."
You would think most of us would have learned that lesson long ago.
Think about all the stuff you own.
None of it is really yours.
When you die, you can't take it with you.
Ecclesiastes 5:15 tells us, "Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand ."
You know that all the stuff you have does not really define who you are.
Who you are has nothing to do with what you own.
Jesus said "Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." (Luke 12:15)
God doesn't know you as a person with the large bank account or a luxury car or a great title.
When God thinks of you, He is looking to see your compassion, your devotion, your love.
God doesn't care one bit about your things.
So, when you think about yourself, you shouldn't care about your things.
Genuine, lasting contentment comes when we can honestly say with the Apostle Paul,
"I have learned to be content in all circumstances
I know how to live in plenty or in want" (Phil. 4:11-12).
A woman leper on the island of Tobago had learned the secret of being content.
A short-term missionary met this leper on a mission trip.
The missionary asked if anyone had a favorite song.
After asking for a request, a woman answered who had the most disfigured face he had ever seen.
She had no nose and no ears.
Her lips were gone.
But she raised a fingerless hand and asked, "Could we sing, 'Count Your Many Blessings'"?
The missionary started the song, but could not finish.
Someone later commented, "I guess you'll never be able to sing that song again."
"No, I'll sing it again," he answered, "But I'll never sing it in the same way."
Jesus Christ is the good Shepherd who hears your every plea, sees your every tear,
and feels your every pain.
If you have Christ in your life, you have forgiveness for every sin;
You have the Holy Spirit to direct you at every turn in the road.
You have the power of Christ power to .....assist you in every storm.
Christ is the shepherd who sees that his sheep are fed, safe and flourishing under His care.
He literally lays down His life for His sheep.
In Christ you have everything you need.
So, why would you long for anything else?
Nothing can cause your Shepherd to leave you.
Can cancer infect your salvation?
Can bankruptcy impoverish your prayers?
A hurricane may destroy your earthly house, but it can't damage a shingle on your Heavenly home.
A man went to a minister for counseling.
He was in the middle of a financial collapse.
"I've lost everything," he moaned.
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that you lost your faith," said the minister.
"I haven't lost my faith," the man replied.
"Well, I'm sad to hear that you lost your character," said the minister.
"I did not say that," the man replied indignantly. "I still have my character."
"Then I'm so sorry you lost your salvation," said the minister.
"I haven't lost my salvation," insisted the man.
"So, you have your faith, your character, and your salvation.
It seems to me that you have lost none of the things that really matter," the minister answered.
Just as the good shepherd provides all that his sheep needs,
the Lord, our Good Shepherd, will provide all the needs of His sheep.
With the Lord as our Shepherd, we can look to the future with confidence.
If we have the Lord as our Shepherd who possesses all things, then we lack nothing.
Because the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack any provision that I need in my life.
Kyle Yates said:
"Because He loves me as the good Shepherd, I shall never want for rest, refreshment,
sustenance, forgiveness, restoration, fellowship, guidance, deliverance from fear,
comfort in sorrow, victory over enemies, security in troublous hours,
joy in the Lord, power for service, or a home at the end of the earthly journey"
-- Preaching from the Psalms, pp. 66).
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White