The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.Psalm 23:1
Because the Lord is my shepherd, I do not lack anything. He satisfies my needs. That is the place where God wants to bring us. He wants us to be independently dependent upon Him, to need Him alone. It struck me as I was studying this psalm that there are really only two options in life. If the Lord is my shepherd, then I shall not want; but if I am in want, then it is obvious that the Lord is not my shepherd. It is that simple. If emptiness, loneliness, despair, and frustration exist in our lives, then the Lord is not our shepherd. Or if anyone or anything else is shepherding us, we are never satisfied. If our vocation shepherds us, then there is restlessness and feverish activity and frustration. If education is our shepherd, then we are constantly being disillusioned. If another person is our shepherd, we are always disappointed, and ultimately we are left empty. If drug abuse is our shepherd, then
we are wasted, as one rock artist said recently. But if the Lord is our shepherd, David says, we shall not want.
It occurs to me that if Jehovah is to be our shepherd, then we have to begin by recognizing that we are sheep. I don't like that analogy, frankly, because I don't like sheep. I come by my dislike honestly. I used to raise sheep. In high school I was in the 4-H Club, and I had a herd of sheep and goats. Now goats I can abide, because they may be obnoxious, but at least they're smart. Sheep are, beyond question, the most stupid animals on the face of the earth. They are dumb and they are dirty and they are timid and defenseless and helpless. Mine were always getting lost and hurt and snakebitten. They literally do not know enough to come in out of the rain. Sheep are miserable creatures.
And then to have God tell me that I am one! That hurts my feelings. But if I am really honest with myself, I know it is true. I know that I lack wisdom and strength. I'm inclined to be self-destructive. Isaiah said it best:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). I know my tendency toward self-indulgent individualism, going my own way and doing my own thing. That's me. I'm a sheep. And if Jesus Christ is to be my shepherd, I have to admit that I need one. It is difficult, but that is where we must start. Once we admit that need, we discover the truth of what David is saying. We shall not want.
Lord, though I am a sheep who is prone to wander, come and be my shepherd today. Bring me to that place where I can say,The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want
If emptiness, loneliness, despair, frustration, hopelessness, or wants exist in our lives, then the Lord is not our shepherd. Can we recognize His call to rescue us?