“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” — Psalm 23:1
This statement stands on its own as a colossus of strength. It is all encompassing and vividly expresses the vast magnitude of the LORD God not only as Jehovah Rohi, our Shepherd; but also as Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. We can clearly read herein the directly expressed understanding that all that pertains to our lives is watched over by our God – from the small to the large, and from the inconsequential to the significant. Dear saint, do not however draw the conclusion as many do that this only applies to the physical wellbeing of our lives. Our Shepherd is the Lord of our complete lives, which encompasses all aspects – physical and spiritual – as we are to be complete in him, wanting nothing.
David, the man who wrote these words and was anointed by God to be king of Israel, was chased from the green pastures and streams of still waters. For a time he lived as an exile in continual fear and flight of his pursuant enemies eager to take his life. He fled from town to town, and lived in caves and amongst the crags, even seeking refuge in the camps of Israel’s adversaries in an attempt to escape the harassing hunt from his foes. The man whom God had said was a man after His own heart, and was His choice to be king of Israel, was treading sour grapes on a bed of jagged stone. What had David done to deserve this torment? The answer – nothing! What then would it achieve? The apostle James answers this question a millennium later when he says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (various trials); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience (perseverance). But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (mature) and entire (complete), wanting nothing.” God had a purpose for David – to lead His chosen people, the people of Israel. This was a mammoth task and God needed David to be mature and complete, not wanting. This trial may not have been pleasant, but it had its purpose.
Going through the valley with the thick, dark, threatening clouds pressing heavily upon the soul of the weary traveller and making it perilously difficult at times to see is no natural pleasantry. With the bright beams of the sun’s warm security that would light our path being severed and blocked from aiding us, the heart may grow weak, faint and tremble. Despair may seek to take a hold, and even the thought of death grip the gut, with the supply of our lifeline seemingly removed. Our minds may want to cry out, “O, how will we make it, how will we get through?” A consoling solace is that our Shepherd has reason and remains with us through it all. His call; His calming and caring voice; the sound of His staff and reassurance of His rod; the knowledge that He maintains infinite wisdom, power and strength; and the understanding that His faithfulness never wanes, removes our faint heart and fear of the foe. Remember, O weak one, the LORD is with us; the tempest clouds cannot separate us from Him, for He is not only the glow of the sun providing our warm security and light to our path, but He is our Shepherd walking with us through the darkened valley, guiding us, guarding us, and governing us. We will make it through, for He will take us through; and our strength and confidence rests in Him who knows the way. Our Shepherd does not leave us to traverse the perils on our own. He does not fear the tempest threat, nor the harrowing howl of the cunning enemy that lurks in the darkness, seeking to devour the unsuspecting. He does not fear the oppressive clouds of tumult that press heavily upon the soul, desirous to drop a deluge of destruction and wash us down the ravine of hopelessness and out to sea. If we follow our Shepherd, there is no reason for the LORD to use the word that He wrote on the wall at Belshazzar’s banquet, “Tekel” – Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting.
And when we have passed the trials of pain and testing, the LORD our Shepherd will lead us out into the rolling countryside. How much sweeter are the soft, soothing, luscious green pastures when you have come from the hard, dry and rocky arid lands? How much more pleasant to the throat are the thirst quenching sips of the refreshingly cool, still water after the bitter waters of Marah? Believer, does God have a purpose for you? Are you eager to carry out His mandate for your life and be lacking nothing? Take courage should you see tempest clouds rise in the distance. David came this route, and when he had journeyed this path, he could sing with understanding the sweet refrain that we so love to voice – The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.