As a young girl privileged to be born to and raised by Christian parents, I had the exciting yet daunting responsibility of memorizing and reciting Bible verses at Sunday school and during special occasions in church. Unlike my older brother, I don’t enjoy memorizations if they don’t rhyme like poetry and especially when there are numbers/figures involved. I have simply always thought it a more honorable (read as “easier”…lol) pursuit to understand and explain written thoughts rather than to be given to plain memorizations. However, I had no choice (still don’t) but to memorize a few including the famous Psalms 23.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…
And then, beyond the recitals, Psalm 23 (especially vs1) became the go-to scripture in my everyday life. When I was sick and needed healing. When I was sad and needed comforting. When I had written a tough exam and I desperately needed the angels to break into the examiner’s office at midnight and correct my errors. When I was broke and needed money to literally rain down from heaven. When I tortured my mind with a horror movie and I had to go to the bathroom at night, alone.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want! How convenient?! Well, after many years of assuming I understood, I decided to study this particular Psalm only to see truths I never saw or pondered on (this discourse is however limited to vs 1).
While it is exciting and relieving to cling to the seemingly readily available promises of God in scripture, it is essential that we pause and look out for the responsibilities that sustain the reality of those “promises”. In vs 1, David used the word Shall which is an English word that indicates personal determination or obligation. Here, it indicates both! David was saying “Because the Lord is my Shepherd and I am His sheep- under His absolute leadership-, I have decided and it is also my responsibility not to want whatever He doesn’t provide for me”. He was not just professing or claiming an endless supply of his every desire but declaring his absolute satisfaction with whatever his shepherd provides. In a way that conflicts the contemporary Christian’s expectations, Psalms 23:1 should daily remind us of our Christian discipline and duty of submission to and contentment in God.
I love how the Good News Bible puts it “…I have EVERYTHING I NEED”
As long as we are totally yielded to God and our lives are in sync with His will, we have EVERYTHING we need even if we don’t seem to enjoy or understand what we have. With this understanding, we can go through every season of our lives knowing that whatever we face is needed to deliver us to the fullness of our expected end in God (Jeremiah 29:11). We can consider it a sheer gift when tests and challenges come at us from all sides. Knowing that under pressure, our faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So we won’t try to get out of anything prematurely but let every situation do its work so that we become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way (James 1:2-4 MSG). And yes, we know that WHEN we go through deep waters, He will be with us. WHEN we go through rivers of difficulty, we will not drown. WHEN we walk through the fire of oppression, we will not be burned up; the flames will not consume us (Isaiah 43:2 NLT). We must live with the understanding that besides the overflowing cup of blessing prepared for us in the presence of our enemies, there is also a prepared cup of trials, temptation, rebuke, rejection that we must partake of. However, that light affliction is producing IN us an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure and proportion (2 Corinthians 4:7 LEB). After all, we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose (Romans 8:28 AMP).
God’s shepherding of our lives does not immune us against certain inconveniences of life but assures of a loving divine presence through those needed experiences and a better outcome in every situation. Also, God has no intention to serve our greed especially not at the expense of our needs. It is our responsibility therefore to add to our godliness godly contentment and find absolute satisfaction in the laws of our God, His will for our lives in every season and the terms of our consecration. This will demand a deliberate looking away [from ALL that will distract] to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2 AMP). We must decide to be uninterested in the enticing alternatives offered by the world system including those wrapped up in the similitude of religion. God’s love must constrain us enough to make us refuse to have desires outside God’s provision for our lives. It is not enough to trust God to take great care of us. We must also trust His methods and His timing.
Though there are other valid dimensions to understanding this popular and often misapplied verse, in this age where we readily treat God as some “sugar daddy” whose responsibility it is to dance to the tune of our unending requests usually projected at gratifying self and dragging us down to the same level of immaturity as the world-system, more than anything else, this verse should daily remind us of our expected allegiance to the totality of God’s leadership in every area of our lives and our responsibility to deliberately close our eyes to all the alternatives the world has to offer.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I Shall not want. If God won’t readily give it to me, I SHALL not want it! Even if it is “a good thing”.
Enjoy God always!!!
#Shewrites #DeborahAdeojo #ALLYAfrika #ALLYreads #SavedToSave