Psalm 23 is perhaps the most well known passage of Scripture. Only John 3:16 might be better known. Just about everyone knows Psalm 23 (generally in the KJV not the NIV or some other version). I will use it quite often for those who are in the hospital or with families while they are going through the struggles of the loss of a loved one. What wonderful words it gives to us. The hope it brings and the strength it bestows is beyond our capacity to understand. How is it possible that a small little poem, written by David so many years ago, can touch so many hearts and lives in a positive way? It is from God. It is His words of love given to us. That's how.
But this morning, as I thought about Psalm 23, I thought to myself, "I shall not want? Really?" "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters..." (Ps. 23 KJV) All right, so He is my shepherd, but I still want. I can say that I don't, but I do. I want to feel good. I want to have a good job. I want to be given a good day. I want to see the sun. I want another hour of sleep. I want a relationship with someone. I want my spouse to act better. I want that friend to get off drugs. I want an easy drive to work. I want a good meal. I want more money. I want my taxes to come out right. I want, I want, I WANT!
We live in a time of plenty. And in a time of plenty, want doesn't seem possible. How can we want for anything? We have all we need. But we do. Commercials tell us to want more. Ads in the paper make us want more. Look under the Christmas tree (OK, so you need to look at pictures to remember that time, but remember!) and see how many presents there were. You want. You want to receive lots of presents. And you want your children to feel good because you have given them lots of presents. Wanting is in our culture, our country, our hearts, our lives (it is often called coveting! ouch!).
So how can we say, "I shall not want." Because it is talking about our hearts, our spiritual lives. Yes, we are given in our lives but those things come and go. Talk with Job and you will see that. I shall not want...when I am in a relationship with God. I shall not want for forgiveness, it is given freely and abundantly. I shall not want for love, it is poured out first at the cross, then at the tomb, then in the waters of Baptism, given in the bread and wine of the Supper and bestowed day after day as He holds me in His hands. I shall not want for life, as I am given that daily in Christ and totally given that when this frail body breathes its last and I enter into heaven.
How can I say it? Because of faith in Christ Jesus. He fills my cup to overflowing, even when my cupboard is bare. He sits me down at a banquet that feeds my soul even when I wonder how I will find the next meal. For you see, He cares for you. Will you have all sorts of things in this life? Maybe, maybe not. That isn't what the Psalm is about. It is about your walk with the Lord.
Next time you read Psalm 23, think of what your life is. Is it one filled with want? Or is it one of contentment in the Lord? Then walk with the Shepherd, where ever He leads you.