The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
I’m slightly afraid to admit this on the radio, but I am a gadget fiend. Whenever a new product comes out, I find myself desperately wanting to buy one. I begin rationalising and convince myself that it’s not simply a case of wanting a new toy, but actually needing it. My life would be so much simpler if only I could have the latest gadget. I know I’m not alone in my feelings. This is, after all, how a capitalist marketplace works. We’re conditioned to want more, to desire better, and hang the expense.
Psalm 23 has proven to be a revelation in my life in recent years, so much so that I found myself writing a book about it. It’s a Psalm that we think we all know. Perhaps because it is so familiar to us, we don’t really think about its words.
‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ the Psalmist David begins. He himself had spent his early years tending his father’s flock, so he would have known exactly what it meant to be a shepherd. David knew that the most crucial role of a shepherd is to look after the material needs of his sheep. His sheep would be totally dependent on him for food and water. Without the shepherd, the sheep would surely die, since they would be unable to find food for themselves.
This is the image that David had of God: there was no doubt in his mind that God fulfils the same role for his people. He knew that God looked after him as he looked after his sheep. He trusted God to take care of all of his material needs. He believed this to the extent that he could say with confidence, “I lack nothing.” He knew that all he needed would be provided to him by God.
Sometimes our desire for more material goods can actually make our lives more uncomfortable. We work long hours, we try to gain promotions, we neglect our families, we can even abandon God.
Perhaps rather than falling into the trap of materialism we should strive to be more sheep-like, trusting in God to provide for our needs, and finding contentment in what he has already graciously given us, rather than constantly striving for more and more.
David trusted that God would provide all that he needed, and said with confidence, “the Lord is my shepherd.” I wonder if we can trust in God to provide our needs and say, “the Lord is OUR shepherd?”
For more material on Psalm 23 and full details of my book, ‘The Shepherd God,’ check out the Shepherd God pages on this site.
As featured on Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Inspirational Breakfast’ on Monday 13th April 2015.
Listen to this reflection/download Podcast: