The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.
Of all that we can attribute and ascribe to our God, we would do well, first and foremost, to call Him our Lord. Rather, we call Him ‘THE Lord’ – for there are no other Lords that are quite like Him. Many other people or things can have some sway over our lives – they may be lords over us by way of having legitimate authority over us, or by way of our being influenced by them one way or the other; or, by having even the smallest degree of power over us, whether we recognize their authority or not.
By calling our God, Lord, and not merely Lord, but THE Lord – we are acknowledging that there is nobody in heaven and in earth that has more power, authority, and influence. We may have many lords over single or multiple aspects of our lives, but only God has jurisdiction and full power and authority over our entire being – He is the Lord of Lords.
And while we would do well to revere this Lord and to look upon Him with respect and dread, alas – we are told by psalmist David, that this Lord is our Shepherd. God, who has infinite power, authority, and influence over us is not only A Shepherd who is inclined to care dearly for His flock – no, you shouldn’t miss that small detail; He is OUR Shepherd.
When we say that the Lord is my Shepherd, we are saying that God is who He says He is – matchless in power for us, and overflowing in grace towards us.
Oh, that we would take this in with every moment… and in so doing, may we also find our peace in Him, much so that we would proclaim – ‘I shall not want’.
Apparently I jumped into that verse before – last July, to be precise. However, I’m not so sure I went through the rest of the Psalm.
*Update: Definitely didn’t go through the rest of the Psalm, but apparently I wanted to. I was signed on as part of a group consisting of folks who would talk about each verse in Psalm 23… and I was the opener. Nobody else continued after that, sadly. So I suppose it’s good that we go through this now.
There’s something else: I just couldn’t remember that one book that I took and read. It was given to me as a raffle prize I won during one of my first years that I began to carry the ‘Pastor’ title… or was it just another book I picked up later on in my walk? I couldn’t remember, sorry – but the point is that I read on an entire book that walked the reader through the entire Psalm 23… and I decided to mention that before I went any further, citing its probable influence (and apparent lordship) in the collection of these words I share today.
He makes me to lie down on green pastures
Now going back, David could have stopped at that first verse, and we would have been left in awe of our God. However, I’m assuming that he kept on writing and composing, while on the high of expressing the words of that very first verse – and before anything else that he wrote which now composes what we call Psalm 23, he writes of how we are led to green pastures, and still waters. Now, when it comes to green pastures, I’m imagining the obvious undertones of abundance, but I’m also led to consider the conditions that make land a green pasture to begin with.
I’m imagining that there’s a precise amount of precipitation that’s required from the skies and moisture from underneath that contribute to the fertility of the soil. Too little water and you’re left with a dry wilderness. Too much water and you’re left with a swampy bog. Favorable weather is balanced weather. And it’s not just water from above, but water from beneath that also has its part in nourishing the soil. Nearby, healthy bodies of water make green pastures. I’m also imagining how an abundance of creatures of all forms contributes material into the land to fill the soil with just the right amount of minerals. Relaxed and free animals make green pastures.
It’s as if to say that there’s more to this verse to increased opportunities of provision. The Lord is our Shepherd who ensures, by His infinite Wisdom, that we are in the best conditions possible, but I do like to point out, more than anything else, that we are brought to lie down, to rest, in fields where we can move free, relaxed without hostile provocation and stress. It’s as if to give us additional insight to what has already been stated in Proverbs 10:22: ‘The blessing of the LORD enriches, and He adds no sorrow to it.’
We can rest assured that the Lord is not only bringing us to favorable places, but He maintains them and allows them to flourish.
and He leads me to the still waters.
The Lord restores my soul.
I’m imagining that there’s also a calm in the land that results in a body of water being still. I mean, just as the pastures are flourishing because of the healthy bodies of water that add to it, so the water also stays healthy because of the green pastures that give back.
It is the Lord who establishes this cycle which allows both land and water not only to survive, but to thrive; and we’re led to lie down and to enjoy the waters.
Whose soul, therefore, could not be restored?
The Lord leads me along the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
So we are not only sustained, but we are properly nourished so we would be as the land and the water – not only surviving, but thriving. And what’s great is that the same God who is with us in our restoration is with us – and not only does He accompany us, but He leads us.
The way I see it now as we understand our position and our union in Christ, is that we enjoy freedom to choose our direction and which paths to take, coming from our ‘foundation’ of green pastures and still waters; but, regardless of where we choose to go, we are ultimately swayed to the streams – the paths of righteousness, whom we trust the God who loves us to take us to.
And it appears He does this for His name’s sake – I suppose this is stated only to point out how involved and committed He is in being our Shepherd. He stakes His name – in other words, all of Himself is involved in leading us, not only to where to rest, but to where to go as well.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for He is with me.
The Lord’s rod and staff comfort me.
Two things: As we’re led along paths, or even as we insist on the ways we ought to go, there will be chances that we would find ourselves in places like the valley of the shadow of death.
But that’s the other thing – We shall fear no evil, even in these perilous situations we find ourselves in – For we have no less that the Creator of all; He is with us and not only is He with us, but we are assured of His protection by way of His rod and staff.
The Lord prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
He anoints my head with oil, and my cup runs over.
And not only are we well protected from anything and everything in all creation that would attempt to steal from us, kill us, or destroy us – we’re also promoted. Promoted in the sense that even in the sight of those who would call themselves our enemies, we are served by the Most High, led to feast before them. Right now I see it as if it’s to say that our right standing with God is made known to all.
If making sure we eat and be merry in the presence of our enemies isn’t enough to project His superiority and glory for those who believe in Him, then He doesn’t take any chances – He anoints our heads with oil. I’m not sure of the significance of this sort of anointing beyond what it meant for prophets anointing kings with oil. Perhaps it’s to ensure that we are presentable, from the head down.
This is a quicker take than I pre-empted, and I’m pretty happy that I’m able to cross this out of my drafts, so I could keep going with my writing. But it’s not to say that I haven’t learned anything today by taking Psalm 23 on.
We’re blessed by the very first verse. Sure, to know that the Lord is the Lord of Lords, who is the Shepherd of our soul, taking care of us in all aspects – that’s enough for us to say, right then and there, that we would want for nothing. But it’s made obvious by the rest of the Psalm that we’re blessed beyond measure. For see, not only are led to rest in green pastures and peace in still waters, but we are assured of His direction along paths of righteousness, and His literal presence even when we walk through paths that literally threaten our entire being. And it doesn’t end there – our Lord assures us of our right standing with Him by way of anointing us, and allowing us to feast in the presence of those who would call themselves our enemies.
So as I’m going through all of it, it’s like the first verse is a premise, or a summary for the rest of the Psalm. The Lord is my Shepherd, and it causes me to realize and proclaim, that I shall not want. That I have all that I need.
On the same token, the Lord brings us to rest. He directs us and protects us. He promotes us and assures us. As we continue to meditate on exactly how our Lord is our Shepherd, we would only find more and more reasons to proclaim His glory and grace… much so that we would naturally exclaim, as David did:
Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.
I could end all of it here, but I couldn’t help but try to connect Christ’s finished work. For by His crucifixion and death we have been cleared of the wages of sin; therefore, we are free of the world’s demands for us to work for God’s forgiveness. When we rest, we honor Christ taking our restlessness on the cross.
He took our confusion, so we could establish some sort of direction. On the cross he took our anxiety, so we are at peace to take the first step, knowing that Christ suffered the disconnection so we would enjoy the Truth that He would never leave nor forsake us. Christ suffered vulnerability. Christ suffered humiliation and being ridiculed. And though I couldn’t think of a direct equivalent of what we have as a result of all of it, I could say that Christ took all of this so we not only overflow in gratitude, but in confidence.
For see, when we say ‘goodness and mercy shall follow (us) all the days of (our lives)’, we’re saying that God is with us. By Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension, He lived up to His name, Emmanuel – God is with us, and His goodness and mercy are always with us.
On the other hand, when we say ‘(we) shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever’, we’re saying that we are with God. And notice that: ‘all the days of my life’, and ‘forever’; It gives further credence and credit to Christ’s finished work, which ensures that we are with God, and God is with us, now and forever.
So with all this in mind… Oh, what a great Lord we have! What a great Shepherd we have!
He deserves all the glory and praise.
Until the next post, God bless you.