The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1 KJV)
The 23rd Psalm continues to bless scores of God’s people down the ages. In this remarkable Psalm, David uses the metaphor of a Shepherd to describe God’s care for His people.
Two kinds of experiences shaped David’s perception of God as a Shepherd. The first is literal and the second is figurative. David was a shepherd—an everyday experience for most Hebrews; he was a shepherd in the literal sense. But he was also a shepherd, figuratively as God’s chosen king to lead and govern His people. In Psalm 78:71, God moved David from a literal shepherd to a symbolic one to care for His people Israel.
With his experience as a shepherd of sheep and a shepherd of people, David called the Lord his Shepherd. In this role, the Lord cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep. Please note the critical place of the possessive pronoun “my.” David said the Lord is “my Shepherd,” not “a Shepherd.” Although the Lord is a Shepherd, He does not shepherd everybody. He has His sheep, so He is a Shepard only to His sheep. We become His sheep by believing in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Therefore the term “my” emphasizes the intimate relationship between the sheep and the shepherd.
The word “care” summarizes the role of the shepherd. Shepherds care for their sheep. This care includes provision, protection, and guidance, amongst others. As we read the entire Psalm from verse 1, we quickly grasp what qualities of a Shepard David had in mind when He called the Lord His Shepherd. In the second part of verse 1, he says, “I shall not want.” So David begins by emphasizing God’s ability to meet every need of His people—provision, protection, direction, comfort, encouragement, etc.
Would you agree that David had only a glimpse of God’s shepherding? We have the fullness in Christ. Paul describes the immensity of God’s shepherding in Christ with the words:
“Now unto him, that can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20 KJV)
As with everything else we receive in Christ, we only enjoy God’s shepherding if we believe and trust in Him.
Please take a moment to read through Psalms 23:1 above, think over each word, and say those words out loud to yourself to get them to sink in.
Apply the Word
If you want the Lord to shepherd you, you must be a sheep. In this metaphor, He does not shepherd shepherds—those who cannot trust Him or think they know how to feed themselves. Put this verse to work in any area of need in your life—Test God in His Word.
Thank the Father for being your Shepherd.