#1 in Series on Psalm 23
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;” (Psalm 23:1-2a).
David, having been a shepherd in his youth, sees himself as a sheep under the care of the Lord as his Shepherd. “want” here means to lack something he needs. David said that would not happen to him because the Lord, as his Shepherd, would provide all his needs. Here is absolute security.
This is amazing to me because I grew up on a farm with sheep and know how helpless they are without a shepherd; half blind, they would starve without a shepherd. When threatened by wild animals, their only defense is their legs, and they can’t run that fast. Clearly it is not self-confidence, but confidence in a shepherd who loves and cares for them.
Some think David may have written this Psalm as a shepherd boy and sang it to his satisfied sheep. However, most Bible teachers think David wrote it in his maturity, after he had seen proof the Lord cares for all who trust Him. In any event, all agree thatDavid wrote this Psalm to explain the Lord’s perfect shepherding of those who follow Him. That’s security.
How does one get this kind of security? For a sheep, it means having a good shepherd. For us it means finding the good Shepherd to care for us. David said, “The Lord is my shepherd;” (vs. 1a). He had made a choice to follow the Lord as his shepherd.
Jesus clearly fulfilled David’s shepherd vision when He said, “I am the good shepherd, the good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep” (John 10:11).
Sheep naturally tend to go astray. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6).
Phil Keller, a Christian shepherd and author of, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, wrote: “Sheep without a shepherd will either stay in the same field, grazing down to roots and dirt, or wander aimlessly to barren fields or danger. A good shepherd sees to it that is sheep always have enough good grass to eat. He goes ahead of his sheep and removes harmful plants and danger.” Sheep without a shepherd cannot survive. Neither can we. We must realize that and trust Jesus as our Shepherd.
However, only those who clearly decide to turn from their own way and follow the Lord Jesus may truly say “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” All who trust in Jesus as their Shepherd will “not want” or lack anything they need. Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible paraphrases this verse, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” Would you like to have that kind of security?
Consider this beautiful illustration of security in Jesus as your Shepherd.David says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” (vs. 1b). Keller continues, “…sheep routinely rise before dawn and graze until they are satisfied.David saw himself as a sheep lying down in a green pasture, satisfied and secure. The shepherd has led His sheep to lush green pastures, which satisfied their need. They ate all they needed and lay down safely in the soft greengrass to rest in the shade. These sheep who have a good shepherd were not worried about their next meal. Neither were they afraid of wild animals attacking them. They were secure in the Shepherd’s care. You also can have that kind of security!
How Jesus gives us security in life and in eternity. Not only was Jesus the good Shepherd, He was also “the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). How did He do that? By being the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins on the cross.This means we can be forgiven and have eternal security. As the Lamb of God, Jesus “gave His life for his sheep” (John 10:11). This refers to the cross where Jesus died for you and me. On the third day after His death, Jesus arose from the dead and is alive today and available to be your Shepherd. He also said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,” (John 10:27- 28a). May God help you trust and follow Jesus as your Shepherd forever! Amen.