The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, 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 runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever (Psalm 23, New King James Version).
This is a very familiar psalm, so much so that we may actually not think of what we are saying whenever we recite it. We should spend some time thinking about the splendor of this psalm which describes the Lord as my Shepherd
Who Is The Shepherd? The Lord – He is God, the people said when fire came down from heaven at Elijah’s prayers on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18:39. This Lord, who is our Shepherd, has the power of life and death, Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal (Deuteronomy 32:39). This is wonderful news if your shepherd is actually the Lord, because when a lion or any other fierce enemy comes to try and take your life, He kills them off, like King David (who wrote this psalm) did when a lion attacked the sheep. In 1 Samuel 17:34-35, But David said to Saul “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. That means that even if you are already under attack, your Shepherd goes after them to deliver you. And not only that, after that deliverance, the Lord kills them, so that affliction will not arise a second time.
Unfortunately, for many of us, our shepherd is not the Lord. We trust another to lead us:
Our shepherd could be our bishop, General overseer, pastor, pope, uncle, mother or friend. We take advice from them and not from the Lord.
Our shepherd might even be a King or another Head of State. But hear what the King himself said to those who wanted to make him their shepherd in 2 Kings 6:27, And he said, If the Lord does not help you, where can I find help for you?.
If you have any other shepherd apart from The Lord who is God, you need to repent so that you shall not want.
Some of us might even acknowledge that God is the true Shepherd but they continue to stay outside the fold, refusing to trust Jesus, content to watch as others adopt Jesus as their Shepherd. Their attitude is that The Lord is Pastor’s Shepherd, He shall not want, while they continue to struggle and want.
What does it mean not to want? Some versions render it as "I shall not lack," and that is commendable but the way God explained it to me recently, I shall not want is a lot better, because:
If you are a lady of marriageable age, you want a husband. Once you have a husband, do you still want a husband? You shall not want a husband.
If a man is hungry, he wants food. Once he has eaten and is full, he pushes his plate away. He does not want food. God shall fill somebody here today.
Let us say you want a new car; God gives it to you as you allow Him to shepherd you. Do you still want a car? You shall not want.
Or you may want a child or two. Once you have them, you shall not want.
Whatever you want God to do for you, God is going to meet all your needs.
Now that you know that the Lord is God and you have adopted Him as your own personal Shepherd, only 2 points remain to be made:
Are you a sheep or a goat? A sheep is obedient while a goat is stubborn, rebellious. Which are you? God is not a goatherd, but a shepherd; goats end up in hell. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left,(Matthew 25:32-33).
Finally, will you allow God to shepherd you in His own way or do you want your way? In His own way, the 1st thing He does is to make you lie down in green pastures – where you will forcefully study and know His rules. You feed on His word but it is mandatory – Can you do that?
Once you know his mind through such diligent study of His Word – your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you, (Psalm 119:11),
He leads you beside still waters – that is, He removes crises and drama from your life and gives you peace
It is there, in the quieitness, that all you had lost is restored.
And once you are restored, God puts His name on you.
Now, you have to walk in the paths of righteousness and it is all because you belong to Him and bear His name.
As time goes on, and you see how good and kind this Shepherd truly is, you relax and begin to trust Him even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Like Job, you can truly say, Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15).
Even when the rod of correction lands on your back, you know it is for your comfort, to prevent you from accidents on the rocky mountainside of life, according to verse 4 of the psalm.
At this stage of trust, you have become like Daniel who refused to deny God in spite of the king’s threats.
You have now become God’s masterpiece for Him to show to the world for the praise of His glory.
So He looks around for your enemies (who are now also His enemies) and He sets a banquet table before you.
This table is not just of food, it has honor, wealth and promotion on it, Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom (Daniel 5:29).
His enemies had no choice but to look on. This is the stage of goodness and mercy following you all the days of your life.
Are you willing to make God (not another) the Lord and Shepherd of your lives? In addition, you must not look on while He shepherds another,;you must step up and say, I too want to be in your fold.
You must then grow from faith to trust – even in the valley of the shadow of death.