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Good Shepherd

Written by David Reim

"I Shall Not Want!"

Aren’t those amazing, wonderful words? “I shall not want!” I shall not lack any good thing. All my needs shall be provided, or as the Apostle Paul puts it, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) That’s what we receive when we have the Lord as our Good Shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2)

What a picture of complete contentment and perfect satisfactionto lie down in green pastures beside the still waters! That is a picture of one who has perfect peace without a care or worry in the world. There is nothing to fear and there is no need unmet. As Isaiah says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Before we start dreaming of sitting on couches with servants waiting on us hand and foot, indulging in every pleasure, or before we think, “Yeah, but what about all those times I have suffered and had to scrape and scratch to get enough?” let us remember verse 3.

“He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.”

While our Good Shepherd does provide all our physical needs and takes care of us exactly as we need, that is not what enables us to lie down in contented peace. Our Shepherd never promised to give us everything our human nature might desire, and it wouldn’t give us contentment if He did. Much better than that, He restores our soul and our righteousness. In other words, He restores our life and relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. That is the abundant life that Jesus promises as our Good Shepherd in John 10:10. When our soul is restored and satisfied with God’s perfect righteousness, when we know God is not angry with us and will not punish us but loves us and holds us in His hands, then we can truly have peace and contentment in every condition of life.

King David was not dreaming or imagining some unseen utopia. He was describing his own life—a life in which he was often running for his life and fighting battles against fierce enemies. But in the midst of that he could lie down and sleep in peace, knowing that his Good Shepherd was watching over him and keeping him in His care. That is why he could truly say in verses four and five:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.”

“I shall not want” is a confession of faith and the confidence of faith. It is knowing and seeing God’s hand in our lives and trusting Him completely, knowing that “God is good” even when we don’t see anything good around us. It is seeing God’s faithfulness and how He has blessed you richly in the past, so that you can look forward to the future with confidence and joy just as King David did.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Forever.”

That’s what I call a wonderful life!

David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.