I Shall Not Want
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. —Psalm 23:1-3
When David wrote in his famous psalm, “I shall not want,” it was the summary of the results of having the Lord as his shepherd. What does it mean not to want? First, it means we will not lack the basic needs of life—those would be the big three: food, shelter, clothing. You don’t need to be anxious about those things. God promises over and over that He will meet those needs in our lives.
Our initial response to this promise is often skepticism. We ask, “What about those who are hungry and homeless? There seem to be a lot of them. How does God meet their needs?” The answer comes to us throughout God’s Word. When God supplies abundantly to us, He expects us to share with others. God uses His people to spread His blessings. Each of us can probably think of occasions when God has helped others through us and when God has helped us through others.
But there is something deeper than the basic needs of life in the words: The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Make a note of what this is saying: I shall not want another shepherd. I shall not seek another Master. The expert care of my Master Jesus is all I desire. I am completely content with His management of my life. And though my life is not perfect, He has never failed me. Though there have been disappointments and difficulties, He has always kept His promises. When I have sought Him, I have found in Him all I need. The Lord is my shepherd and I don’t want another.
“I shall not want” is also a statement about self-control. Think about all the pain in life that is caused by wanting: “I want this,” and “I want to go there,” and “I want to experience that.” Too many of life’s hurts come from wanting what we do not have.
Here is a personal example: I have always wanted to be a fisherman. I can’t tell you the aggravation and heartache that has come into my life from wanting to be a fisherman. I could tell you stories of trips I’ve gone on and promises that were made. “You’re going to catch so many fish you will be amazed!” What I discovered is there’s a reason they call it fishing and not catching. All I caught was frustration—from wanting.
But the longer the Lord is my Shepherd, the more I realize in how many ways I shall not want affects every day I live. No matter what the circumstance, I already have everything I really need in Christ. Loved one, I pray you are discovering that same truth in your life.
- Based on today’s reading, does “not wanting” mean a change in what you “need” or does it mean seeing your “needs” in the light of God’s wise provision?
- What has recently been taking on the character of “wants” that need to be surrendered to the Shepherd for His timing and supply?
Lord, forgive me for those times when I let the optional and incidental things from this world become unhealthy wants and needs in my life. When I stop long enough to consider all You have done for me, those earthly priorities vanish before Your glory. So help me today to be still and know You are God, my Shepherd, in whom I have everything I need. Thank You for summing up Your abundant supply in the person of Your Son, Jesus, in whose name I pray, Amen.