The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. —Psalm 23:1-2
Enough. Isn’t that all we are looking for? We get up each day and we work and fill our lives with activity, but all we are really seeking is enough. We just want to have enough so that we can relax and rest knowing that everything is going to be OK.
The problem is that as hard as we work and as much as we may accomplish, our restless hearts continue to clamor for more. Rest sounds so good, but we know that until we feel like we have enough, we will never be able to truly experience it.
That is where Psalm 23 comes in. Psalm 23 quiets our restless souls by telling us where we can find the satisfaction that we crave. In verses 1-2 David says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters.”
When David says, “I shall not want” what he is saying is “I finally have enough.” I don’t have to cling to control anymore—I don’t have to live in fear anymore—I don’t have to continue striving after more any longer, instead I can lay down in green pastures and rest because I truly have enough.
So, what is it that David did in order to get to this place in his life? What did he achieve that made him feel like he had finally arrived?
Here David tells us that it wasn’t an accomplishment that allowed him to find rest and it wasn’t in his possessions that he found contentment. In Psalm 23 David tells us that he found everything his heart longed for in a relationship. That is what David means when he says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” So, what is so special about this relationship? What does it look like for God to be our shepherd? And is that really enough to satisfy our deepest desires and lead us to the rest that we crave?
I believe that these questions find their fullest answer in the book of John. There we find that in order to truly be our shepherd the Lord actually came to earth to dwell among us. As a shepherd, the creator of the universe took on flesh to pursue his sheep.
John 10:3 tells us that the reason that our God is able to truly satisfy our heart's greatest desire is because he knows us intimately. John writes, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out.” Because our shepherd knows us intimately he knows our greatest needs. He knows that before we will ever be able to find rest, we have hurts that must be healed and sins that must be forgiven. He knows that there is shame that must be covered and fears that must be relieved, and death that must be conquered.
He knows these things because he is our shepherd and as our shepherd he has come to meet our greatest needs and to lead us to the rest that we crave. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
As our shepherd Jesus has come to meet our greatest needs but what makes Him such a good shepherd is the price that He was willing to pay in order to do that. In the very next verse Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”
You see it wasn’t easy for our shepherd to give us what we need. Forgiveness isn’t free for sinners such as us and life doesn’t come cheap for those who deserve death and condemnation. In I Peter 2:24-25 we read about what it cost for the good shepherd to gather His sheep to Himself. Peter writes, “Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
The good shepherd laid down His life for His sheep. And there on the cross after bearing our sins in his body He cried out and said, “It is finished.” “It’s paid for.” “It’s accomplished.” “It is enough.”
The rest that we have always longed for was purchased for us on the cross. There our good shepherd suffered so that we might be comforted. He was wounded so that we might experience healing. On the cross the good shepherd bled to forgive our sins and He died so that we might have life and have it abundantly.
So let me ask you, “Isn’t that enough?” Doesn’t that sound like what your restless heart has always longed for? What more could you ever do to add to what has already been done for you? What more do you need than what your savior has already purchased for you on the cross. The Son of God loved you and gave his life for you, isn’t that enough? Today if you have received all that your God has offered you in Jesus you will be able to say with David, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…”
What is it that keeps you from being able to truly rest? What do you feel like you need before you will be able to let go of control?
What does it mean that the Lord is our shepherd? How are His actions toward us shepherd-like?
Why did the good shepherd have to die and how has His death accomplished everything we need?
What would it look like for you to say with David, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want?” What things in life would you have to release your control of before you could truly find rest in God?