Out of all the Psalms in the Bible, Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all Psalms. You see it everywhere. One of the most popular places that you will find Psalm 23 is somewhere on the funeral program. This Psalm is used in most funeral eulogies. Songs have been written about this Psalm. And many people can quote this Psalm.
Let’s take a look it.
- 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.
Lets look at verse one. It says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
In order for us to understand the fact that the Lord is our shepherd, we must first understand what a shepherd is. If anyone knew anything about being a shepherd it was David. David was a shepherd from a very young age. We know that when he was chosen king, he was attending his father’s sheep. (1 Samuel 16:11)
During the time that this verse was written, shepherds were of great importance. There was an abundance of sheep in this region. The people were shepherds before they were farmers. The role of the shepherd consisted of many jobs.
The shepherd was to care for the sick and wounded sheep. When they crossed the water the shepherd made sure that they would cross safely. The shepherd would find the sheep that strayed from the fold. The shepherd would find food for the flock. The shepherd even knew each and every one of his sheep; he would even give a pet name to some of them.
In John 10:11, Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd. He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
We are the sheep and Jesus is the good shepherd. Understanding the fact that Jesus is the good shepherd and we are the sheep, then we know that Jesus is our provider, guider, our protector and healer. He is our keeper and shearer. He is our nurturer and defender.
“There is an old story of two men hiking in Wales. They came across a boy in the mountains keeping his sheep. The travelers talked with him about shepherding, and the conversation went to Psalm 23. One of the men told the boy, “Think of the five fingers of your left hand. Let each word stand for one finger. You can meditate on Psalm 23:1 by grasping each finger, one at a time, with your right hand.” They showed him how to do it. The man grabbed his thumb and said, “That stands for ‘The.’” The index finger was ‘Lord,’ and they talked about who the Lord was. The middle finger stood for ‘is’ – present tense, right now. The fourth finger was ‘my.’ And the little finger stood for ‘shepherd.’
The following year the men returned on another hiking trip, and this time they stopped at a small wayfaring house for a cup of tea. On the table was a picture of the very boy they had met a year before.
‘Yes,’ said the woman, ‘that was my son. He died last winter in a storm. He fell down a cliff and lay there a long time. Only later did we find him.’
Then she said, ‘There was something strange about it, though, which we’ve never understood. When we found his body, his right hand was grasping the fourth finger of his left hand.’
‘Yes,’ said the men, ‘we can explain that.’ And they told the mother what had happened the previous year. The boy, in griping his finger, was simply reminding himself, ‘The Lord is MY shepherd.’
When we realize that the Lord is my shepherd, we can understand that He is always taking care of us.
Jesus knows our wants and desires and He wants the best for us.
The rest of verse one says, I shall not want. The message translates it as, “I don’t need a thing.” You see with Jesus as your shepherd, you will not need anything.
Our wants, our appetites and thirsts for happiness, plenty, health, fulfilling relationships and things. Only the good shepherd can meet our deepest needs.
The unfortunate thing is we try to fill our life with stuff that don’t matter in this life. Some people feel empty inside and they look to everything to try to fill that emptiness. They look to a career. They think that if they just work harder, climb the corporate ladder, be the best in their company or make lots of money that it will fill the void. Matthew 16:26 says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Some people try to fill the void with relationships. They think if I can just make lots of friends or they go from relationship to relationship they believe they can fill that void. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
Some people try to fill the void with substances. They take a drink wanting to take the pain away or they shoot up wanting to forget about everything. They hope that these things fill the void. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We try to fill our life with stuff. Stuff cannot fulfill what only Jesus can fulfill. With Jesus there is no void, there is no wants. I am fulfilled in Christ. Only Christ can fulfill any void that you may have. You cannot fulfill the void with status, or money, or relationships, or drugs and alcohol.
Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is MY shepherd. I shall not want.”