I Have Everything I Need (Psalm 23:1-2)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. ²He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. —Psalm 23:1-2
Psalm 23 is a well-known and beloved passage that is often quoted and memorized. Yet, it is easy to disregard the riches of pleasure, comfort, and assurance to be found in it. Charles Spurgeon described it as “the pearl of psalms whose soft and pure radiance delights every eye [for] of this delightful song it may be affirmed that its piety and poetry are equal, its sweetness and spirituality are unsurpassed” (The Sword and the Trowel, 1866). This song from David is a declaration of God’s faithful protection of His people. We should rejoice in singing its melodic tune in times of joy and prosperity. We should take refuge in uttering it's truthful words in times of doubt and distress.
A Personal Shepherd Who Satisfies
Verse one’s depiction of a shepherd caring for sheep would have been familiar to ancient Israelites, but there is a tone of humility as King David, who was also acquainted with shepherding duties, takes his place as a needy and foolish sheep. He elevates Yahweh (God’s personal name) as his personal shepherd. He recognizes that it is the all-powerful, sovereign God who is guiding and directing his life with tenderness and affection.
David submits to God’s purposes for his life with a tone of contentment. Anything physical, emotional, or spiritual that he needs, the Lord, his personal shepherd, provides. Anything he lacks he relinquishes control of possessing. The benefit of living on this side of the cross is knowing God’s provision through the Good Shepherd who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). There is no need to seek safety or security outside of the good gifts that God bestows, and even in times of perceived lack, ultimate satisfaction is found in Jesus who “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3).
Green Pastures and Still Waters
Ancient shepherds protected their flocks from wolves and harsh terrain. They led them by lush meadows and refreshing streams for refuge and sustenance. The Lord as shepherd of the flock encourages activity and commands rest, directing each in His time, according to need. Jesus says, “my sheep hear my voice and they follow me” (John 10:27). And refreshment comes through “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” with “God’s love...poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:1, 5).
Psalm 23:1-2 is a picture of the Triune God guiding us through this life with a promise for the life to come—when, with a great multitude from every nation, people, tribe, and tongue, we will bow before the Good Shepherd who humbled Himself as the perfect Lamb of God:
"Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:15-17)
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Good Shepherd?
Do you seek safety and comfort in the things of this world more than trusting in what God provides?
Are you finding sustenance through feasting on God’s Word, and refreshment through the Holy Spirit at work within you?