One of my favorite verses of the Bible is found in probably one of the most popular portions of Scripture. This verse has comforted me in time of great need and it reminds me of all that the Lord has truly done for us. This verse can be found in the 23rd chapter of Psalms, and it states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The New Living Translation says it this way, “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
The 23rd chapter of Psalms is probably one of the most often quoted portions of Scripture. You have probably heard it quoted in movies, both secular and Christian. You have probably heard it quoted at funerals. You have probably even heard it preached on in your church at some point. However, I don’t think we fully grasp what King David is trying to share with us about the LORD. I fell that, as often as this Scripture is quoted, we don’t stop to reflect on what it means for us.
The LORD is our shepherd. He is the shepherd of the whole, as well as the individual. Psalm 23:1 is coming from the individualistic perspective. It’s the personal relationship of the LORD as shepherd and the individual as sheep. The shepherds job is to care for the sheep, provide for their needs, to guide them, and to protect them. Just as the shepherd does all of this for his sheep, the LORD does all of this for his people.
God cares about our needs. Whether those needs are material, physical, or emotional, God desires to provide for each of them. God cares about our safety. Like a good shepherd, God protects his sheep. I remember driving to work one morning at 3 am. I didn’t sleep well the night before and I kept dozing off at the wheel. The smart thing would have been for me to pull over, but I was 19 at the time and smart wasn’t really my strong suit. The next thing I know, my truck is plowing through the median on Interstate 30 in Hope, Arkansas. I go to slam on my brakes but instead I hit the gas and my truck goes flying. I eventually come to a stop when my truck hits a group of trees head on.
I ended up walking away from that wreck with only a bruise on my arm. I actually went on in to work. Looking back at the damage done to my truck, and the fact that I hit the gas and not the brakes, it’s a miracle that I walked away with only a bruised arm. I have no doubt that God’s hand of protection was upon me, even if the wreck was the result of my lack of wisdom.
Most importantly, I believe this verse is telling us that if the LORD is our shepherd we shall not want. Now, you may be thinking, “well duh, that’s what the verse says!” Let me continue. If the LORD is our shepherd, we shall not want, because he is all we need. Even if we have nothing else, if we have Jesus, we have all that we need. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote his letter to the church in Philippi:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13
The Apostle Paul is stating that, no matter what he’s been through, no matter the situation he is facing, it doesn’t matter how great the need is, he is content because Christ is all he needs. He has learned to trust Jesus in the most dire of circumstances because Jesus is his shepherd.
If the LORD is our shepherd, he is all we need. We need nothing else. He will provide, he will guide, he will protect. No matter what we are facing, no matter the situation we are going through, it doesn’t matter how great our need is, we can be content in him.
Josh Lowrance is a contributor from Authentic Christianity