Psalm 23 1 Commentary: So, let’s see what this shepherd-turned-king says about God’s Pastoral Provisions. Let’s read the rest of verse 1.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I [shall not want/lack nothing].
Psalm 23 1 Commentary: What a Shepherd is Like
A shepherd cares for his sheep. If the sheep are to eat, it’s the shepherd who leads them to the pastures. If the sheep are thirsty, they count on the shepherd to provide the water. If a sheep is feverish or sick, he has no means to heal himself. It’s the shepherd who works to remedy whatever’s wrong with the sheep. If the sheep is in danger from some predator, it’s the shepherd who alone can protect him – since sheep have no real means of defending themselves. That’s the relationship between a literal shepherd and his literal sheep.
Psalm 23 1 Commentary: All We Like Sheep
And don’t we as God’s people know what that’s like in a metaphorical sense with the Lord? We’re not literal sheep. And yet our relationship with the Lord is like a sheep’s relationship with his shepherd. Our God provides us with food and water and clothing and shelter and protection from adversaries. In these ways and many more the Lord is our shepherd, just as he was David’s.
Psalm 23 1 Commentary: I Shall Not Want
And if the Lord is your shepherd you can proclaim with David that you shall not want. That’s not saying that you will never have any desires. That word “want” is used in Exodus 16:18 where the people were going out to get manna and the text says, “he that gathered little had no lack.” Or in Deuteronomy 2:7 where Moses says, “these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.”
Psalm 23 1 Commentary: No Lack
So, it’s not that as a sheep of our Lord the shepherd you will never desire anything. But rather you will never lack any good thing that the Shepherd wants you to have as you follow him.
And then anything we do lack as the Lord’s sheep, we either have not asked for it – as James in the New Testament reminds us – we have not because we ask not. Or the Lord knows that we don’t need it.
Psalm 23 1 Commentary: When We Do Lack
We might think that we absolutely need some specific thing in this life. And yet, if we have asked for it and yet we still don’t have it this is when we can trust our Shepherd that: a) he will provide it in his perfect timing, or b) he knows we don’t need it.
And if you and I are convinced that the Lord is our shepherd then we will be content with that way of thinking. We will rest and trust, knowing that he knows what’s best for us.
So, we as the Lord’s sheep shall not want. David was convinced of that fact and he invites us to meditate on that reality – the reality of God’s Pastoral Provisions.
Psalm 23 1 Commentary: How We Don’t Lack
And now through the rest of this psalm he leads us through several areas of life where this rings true – where God’s Pastoral Provisions appear in the life of a believer. Let’s see this in verse 2 on our Psalm 23 2 Meaning article.