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The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23:1 (ESV) -- The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I have read Psalm 23 so many times. Often it has been for my own personal reading. Other times I’ve read it in a church service or a funeral. I’ve read it to comfort grieving families. This passage is a gift from God, and an outcry of David’s heart and trust in the LORD. The LORD is tender toward us.

The first verse of Psalm 23 is our focus today. David begins the psalm by saying, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The English translations of this verse often sound clunky. As a child I thought the verse meant that the LORD is a shepherd that we didn’t want to have. But that is obviously not the meaning. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in need. I won’t lack anything. That is a better understanding of the meaning. 

The beauty of David’s opening is the establishment of God as a shepherd. Shepherds care for the flocks they possess. They protect them, guide them, feed them, and know them by name. Sheep are not the brightest animals. They are not invaluable in worth. But shepherds take great care to watch over them. They lead them. They love them. David establishes the LORD as that kind of shepherd to His people. He is the Great Shepherd of His flock. This reminds us of Jesus’ words in John 10 as he refers to himself as the Good Shepherd. This aimed to bring Psalm 23 to mind as Jesus’ hearers listened to him. He is the Shepherd of the flock.

David says that the result of the LORD being our shepherd is that our wants are cared for. Our needs are met. We shall not want. This doesn’t mean we will always get our way in every situation. It doesn’t mean we will get everything we ask for. God isn’t our genie in a bottle. He’s the shepherd. He leads us. He guides us. He provides for our needs. 

Reflection & Journal:
- What things come to your mind when you think about the LORD as your shepherd? 
- How should we seek the LORD each day in light of His role as our shepherd?
- Why should Christians see Jesus as a part of the Psalm 23 promises?

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