Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved Scriptures in the entire Bible. Its simple, yet profound truths have provided comfort to millions for three millennia. My friends have plenty of ideas about what King David meant when he wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
“Every time you go to the store, you don’t have to ask for everything,” says Meredith, 6. Or as Haleigh, 9, says: “He will supply every need. I should realize that there is a big difference between my needs and wants.”
Sheep receive comfort from hearing their shepherd’s voice because they know he will lead them to green pastures to meet their needs. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who calls his sheep by name and sacrifices his life for them (John 10). God’s people should expect to hear God’s voice when they meditate upon Scripture and follow the Good Shepherd with a whole heart.
“A shepherd sings to his sheep,” says Katlin, 10.
The Psalms were originally sung. It’s easy to imagine David the shepherd boy singing Psalm 23 as he plucked his harp in the midst of his flock under the stars of the Judean hill country.
“I think it means we are his sheep, and we don’t know anything,” adds Olivia, 8.
Of all livestock, sheep require the most care. Without a shepherd, sheep are easy prey for predators. Sheep that fall down with a full coat of wool are said to be “cast.” They can’t even stand up on their own without help from their shepherd.
OK, sheep are dumb. But that’s only half the story. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
Not only are we dumb like sheep; we’ve taken a wrong path. But the Good Shepherd has made provision, says Nicole, 10: “He will lead you to make right choices. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He keeps you away from danger, and he loves you so much he gave his life for you. If we believe in him, we will go to a place where there are no deaths, no sicknesses and no sin.”
The prophet Isaiah also wrote, “And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
“A shepherd will protect his sheep,” says Sara, 9. “It’s just like having kids wander off.”
We’re good at wandering off on our own trails. After denying the Lord Jesus three times, the Apostle Peter was “cast” or knocked off his feet by doubt, self-pity and guilt.
Three times, the Good Shepherd asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times, Peter affirmed his love for the Lord. Twice, the Lord replied, “Feed my sheep,” and once, he said, “Shepherd my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
The Lord knows how to restore us to fellowship with him and useful service to others when we’re cast down and depressed over real or imagined failures. Those who stay close to the shepherd will experience his protection and provision.
The following variation of Psalm 23:1 from an anonymous 6-year-old might help the next time failure knocks you down: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall want him.”
Think about this: Nothing in this life can meet our needs and wants like fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Memorize this truth: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
Ask this question: Are you looking to the Lord to meet your needs and fulfill your desires?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CAREY KINSOLVING