SHALL NOT WANT

Ps.23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The world lives in a state of want. Enough is never enough. Billionaires never seem to have enough money, fashionistas never have enough clothes, collectors never have enough stuff. You get the picture, something inside of humans is always wanting. It has to do with the created in the image of God thing. We were created to lean and depend on Him for everything. In our present fallen condition that just doesn’t seem to be working. There is never enough stuff because stuff is not what we need. Our need is supernatural. In other words only God will do. Only when you are made new by the Spirit and become a sheep of His pasture will the wanting stop. When Christ is your shepherd, you can say with David “I shall not want” Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“I might want otherwise, but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?…..Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because “The Lord is my shepherd.”

He satisfies us completely and supplies for us continuously. The world’s markets may crumble, but I shall not want. There could even be droughts and famines but there are ravens and widows set aside for His sheep. If you are His child you can say with David “I shall not want”. No matter what circumstances face you, the Lord is your Shepherd.

THE SHEPHERD’S PSALM – PART 3

Ps.23:5,6 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Forever

If the Lord is my Shepherd and my friend, I have peace no matter what enemies I may face. Actually, I can sit down and feast at the table of the Lord when all of hell is banging at my door. Here is how SPURGEON describes feasting when under attack.

“When a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all, he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight. But observe: “Thou preparest a table,” just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance; the enemy is at the door, and yet, God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.”

What is our feast? It is God Himself. What a better meal, we feast on His body and drink His blood.

He anoints my head with oil. The anointing is everything to me. David had experienced the anointing as a child. It was His secret to conquering the giant, defeating the Philistines, writing the Psalms, and leading Israel to a time of peace. It is impossible to understand David without the anointing. It is equally impossible to live a Christian life without His presence upon me. Because of His anointing my cup is running over. This anointing not only empowers us, it satisfies us completely. He is my portion, my cup is flowing over.

His goodness and mercy are my portion. He not only does good things for me, as Jonathan Edwards often said, “He is my good”. He is goodness and His goodness is my portion. His mercies are with me everyday. If His goodness supplies my needs, then His mercies blot out all of my sins.

So this is my life. I find all of this, all of the blessings of the Shepherd, in the house of God. The Shepherd abides in this house; this is where I will live all the days of my life.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – PART 2

PS.23:3,4 – He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me

The Lord is my Shepherd and my best friend. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me besides the still waters of rest. This is the place of renewal and restoration for my soul. Life can be quite exhausting. Walking in this intimate friendship and learning to rest and abide in Him brings me to a place of renewal and restoration. We don’t have to wait until we are in a state of exhaustion to come to these waters of renewal, if the Lord is my Shepherd, renewal becomes my way of life.

The Shepherd leads us into His paths of righteousness. We are no longer walking in lock step with the culture of the world. We have entered into a new way of life, walking in the steps of our Shepherd. Here are some thoughts from the Passion Translation notes on this verse. “Or “circular paths of righteousness.” It is a common trait for sheep on the hillsides of Israel to circle their way up higher. They eventually form a path that keeps leading them higher. This is what David is referring to here. Each step we take following our Shepherd will lead us higher, even though it may seem we are going in circles.” We are walking in this new way of life, this life becomes our testimony or the testimony of Jesus living in us. Our new life is for “His name’s sake”, it is no longer us but Christ living His new life in us.

Even when this path of following Jesus leads us into difficult times, we are not afraid. He is with us when walking into death’s shadows. His rod and His staff remind me of His authority and His protection. Following His leadership is my place of safety and protection. I may not always understand why He leads me in a certain direction, but I trust my friend. Wherever He leads me, He protects and takes care of me. Why Should I fear any kind of evil? If the Lord who died for me is my Shepherd, no enemy can touch me.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – Part 1

Ps.23:1-2 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

This may be the most known passage in all scripture, Psalm 23. This is the passage Jesus was referring to in John 10 when He refered to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Today I want to take another look and drink deeply from this Psalm.

The Lord is my Shepherd. The Passion Bible has an interesting observation in this first verse. It says that the Lord is my Shepherd and my best friend. This is a footnote from the Passion Translation, “The word most commonly used for “shepherd” is taken from the root word ra‘ah, which is also the Hebrew word for “best friend.” So what is David’s point in the beginning of His famous Shepherd’s Psalm? Knowing Christ intimately is everything. This is the beginning of our Christian life. The Lord is my Shepherd and my closest friend. I am one of His sheep and I hear His voice.

The results of this friendship? I shall not want. He not only provides for my daily needs, He also satisfies the longing of my heart. He is my greatest need. He is my treasure and my portion in life. This is the key to freedom from addictions and sinful behavior; the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Next David says He makes me to lie down. When the Lord is my Shepherd I can begin to enter into a place of rest. Rather than always doing, I begin to practice a lifestyle of receiving. If the Lord is my best friend and Shepherd, I can rest in Him, He has me covered. This resting is connected to two powerful provisions. First, He makes me lie down in green pastures. What are these pastures for a sheep? Green grass, all I could ever eat. For the Christian this grass is the written word of God. We can take our daily rest feasting on the green grass of God’s promises, this is rest for our soul. Next, He leads me beside still waters. These are the waters of rest and peace, the living water of the Holy Spirit. I can lay me down in His presence and find rest and renewal for my soul. This is our place of renewal, this is my place of rest.

RESTING BY THE RIVER

Psa. 23:1,2  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

This is a beautiful picture of the spiritual rest the Lord gives His sons and daughters. The Amplified Bible says it like this, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters”. That is one of the beautiful functions of the wonderful Holy Spirit, He gives us rest for our souls. This is one of the greatest of all needs in today’s crazy world. Stress seems to be the order of the day; seasons of earthquakes and national disasters, political chaos, racial contention, economic tsunamis, and incurable pandemics. Without this place of rest to run to, we can easily be overwhelmed by the troubles of this life. Have you learned the importance of following the Shepherd daily to the waters of rest? I think I would have shipwrecked long ago without learning the blessing of resting in the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry of the waters of rest.

“The still waters by which he leads them yield them, not only a pleasant prospect, but many a cooling draught, many a reviving cordial, when they are thirsty and weary. God provides for his people not only food and rest, but refreshment also and pleasure. The consolations of God, the joys of the Holy Ghost, are these still waters, by which the saints are led, streams which flow from the fountain of living waters and make glad the city of our God. God leads his people, not to the standing waters which corrupt and gather filth, not to the troubled sea, nor to the rapid rolling floods, but to the silent purling waters; for the still but running waters agree best with those spirits that flow out towards God and yet do it silently.”

I can remember very clearly the first time I found myself in this semi-conscious state resting in the Holy Ghost. I was prayed for and fell under the power of the Spirit for the first time. I found myself totally caught by surprise as I was overtaken by the restful waters of joy. Resting, laughing, and overcome by love; that’s the very place the Shepherd wants to takes us. This is the beautiful place of restoration, cleansing, and empowering. Go ahead and take a break in the River, this is the place you have been looking for all of your life.

WATERS OF REST

Ps.23:2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

This classic passage gives us a glimpse into the beautiful work of the River of the Holy Spirit. He feeds us with His rich word by the waters of rest. The presence of the Lord is like lying down next to a river. As we wait quietly in His presence there is a great and powerful influence over our soul. Here is a passage from Spurgeon on this verse.

“What are these “still waters” but the influences and graces of his blessed Spirit? His Spirit attends us in various operations, like waters—in the plural—to cleanse, to refresh, to fertilize, to cherish. They are “still waters,” for the Holy Ghost loves peace, and sounds no trumpet of ostentation in his operations.”

That is amazing; as we are still in His presence these refreshing waters bring life to us. There is cleansing in this river, we are washed clean from every haunting thought and accusation from our past. These waters are cleansing us from everything that remains from our past. These waters refresh us. Even if you are emotionally, physically, and spiritually burned out; there is a refreshing and renewing of His strength in us as we rest beside this mighty river. Spurgeon says that we are fertilized by the waters of rest. The most fruitful land is always by the river. Our soul is being nourished as we take in the richness that is found in His presence. Spurgeon also mentions being cherished or loved by God. It is in the atmosphere of the River of God that we are overtaken by His love. Nothing compares to the impact the love of God has on our soul.

John Trappe has an interesting comparison of fresh water of the Spirit and the fouled water that comes from the religious world. Check this out.

“Waters of rest such as sheep love to drink of, being void of danger, and yielding a refreshing air. Religious clergymen are called the “inhabitants of the sea,” Revelation 12:12, because they set abroach gross, troubled, brackish, and sourish doctrine, which rather brings barrenness to their hearers, and gnaws the entrails than quenches their thirst, or cools their heat. The doctrine of the gospel, like the waters of Siloe (Isaiah 8:8), run gently, but taste pleasantly.”

I love the River. That’s where we can feast on the green grass of the revelation of God’s word and recover in the healing waters of the Spirit. I think I am going to lie down in the grass for awhile and then take a long dip in the River of God.

WALKING THROUGH SHADOWS

Psa.23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This verse has been a major comfort to dying believers for 3000 years. The amazing thing about God’s word is that it applies to many different circumstances. Even though this verse speaks of death I believe it also refers to the darkest of days in our lives when we may fear death or even wish we were dead. For the non Christian, we face the darkest days alone. It’s funny how the friends thin out and disappear when the going gets really tough, not so with the Lord. He is often more present when you face the valley of the shadow of death. Not only does He give us promises that He will bring us through, He gets in the middle of the mess with us. When we are at our weakest, He will show Himself strongest in our lives. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on this amazing promise.

“Thou wilt be with me. Though invisible, thou wilt attend me. I shall not go alone; I shall not be alone. The psalmist felt assured that if God was with him he had nothing to dread there. God would be his companion, his comforter, his protector, his guide. How applicable is this to death! The dying man seems to go into the dark valley alone. His friends accompany him as far as they can, and then they must give him the parting hand. They cheer him with their voice until he becomes deaf to all sounds; they cheer him with their looks until his eye becomes dim, and he can see no more; they cheer him with the fond embrace until he becomes insensible to every expression of earthly affection, and then he seems to be alone. But the dying believer is not alone. His Saviour God is with him in that valley, and will never leave him. Upon His arm he can lean, and by His presence he will be comforted, until he emerges from the gloom into the bright world beyond.”

What kind of dark valley have you wandered into? You are not alone. As the Lord told Paul in the midst of his persecutions, “My grace is sufficient”. Sufficient ? I say more than sufficient. He is my light in darkness, my strength in my weakness, my wisdom when confused. He is my portion and my joy and more than enough no matter what valley I go through. Remember, it only the “shadow” of death.

NO WANT

Psa.23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

How much of our lives are spent pursuing our wants. From pre-school through college and often beyond we are preparing ourselves to make a living so that we and our family will not want. We then often spend our working years in preparing for retirement so we will suffer no want in our latter years. Sounds like an exercise in futility. Like Solomon said, “All is vanity, vanity of vanities and striving after wind”. If you think about it, Solomon had a handle on man’s life without God. Chasing Don Quixote’s windmills and running hard after the “Impossible Dream”, that pretty much describes life in the fast lane. That is exactly what set me on my search as a young man that landed me in the Shepherd’s arms. Here is how Spurgeon describes today’s verse.

“I might want otherwise (want), but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?… I may not possess all that I wish for, but “I shall not want.” Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because ‘The Lord is my shepherd’.”

So where does this rest come from? It comes from knowing the Lord for yourself and trusting Him. David was a shepherd himself and knew he would risk his own life to care for his sheep. How could the Chief Shepherd ever forget or neglect the sheep of His pasture? Impossible !!! If the Lord is your Shepherd, you shall not want!

OVERFLOWING CUP

Psa.23:5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

Obviously David often thought of the times of solitude he spent as a youth watching the sheep. He must have had a special relationship with these sheep, sensing the tenderness seen in this Psalm when he sees himself as a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd. In these simple yet profound words we can see an ocean of the Lord’s love and care for us. The Shepherd loves His sheep and makes sure his basic needs are met. David said that he would never want because the Lord was His Shepherd. Here is how Albert Barnes describes the temporal benefits of having this Shepherd.

“It is not merely “full”, it runs over. This, too, indicates abundance; and from the abundance of the favors thus bestowed, the psalmist infers that God would always provide for him, and that He would never leave him to want.”

There is also a sense of total spiritual satisfaction that flows from the life of the Shepherd. David always sang about being satisfied as God for His portion and delight. Augustine concurs as he talks about this inebriating cup.

“My cup runneth over.” Or as it is in the Vulgate: And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is! With this cup were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognised not those that belonged to them; not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations; while they gave thanks and said, “I will take the cup of salvation!”

There is also a sense of extreme excess in David’s words. His cup is not just full, it is overflowing. Even when we are full the Lord keeps pouring. Out of this fulness is where we minister to others. My overflowing cup is a cup of ministry. Here is John Trappe’s explanation.

“My cup runneth over.” He had not only a fulness of abundance, but of redundance. Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.”

So how is your cup doing today? Is it empty, half full, or overflowing? This is the life that began with David during those years as a shepherd. Samuel anointed David with oil and the Holy Spirit began to rush and remain on David. The rest of David’s life he was pouring out his songs from a full and overflowing cup.

MY CUP OVERFLOWS

Ps.23:5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

The Shepherds Psalm speaks of the tenderness that is given to all of the Lord’s followers, we are the sheep of His pasture. He is our Good Shepherd. This is the revelation David had of the Lord, we see it throughout His life of worship. Today’s verse speaks of the overflowing cup of His anointing that flows from this life of intimacy. John Trappe speaks of the redundancy, or the repetitive nature of the outpouring of His grace on our lives.

“My cup runneth over.” He had not only a fulness of abundance, but of redundance. Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.”

Trappe also says that this anointing is not just for us, we are to pour it out into our needy brothers and sisters all around us. Actually Trappe says it just overflows into ministry. William Secker compares this cup to liquor. It numbs us to the hostility and pain of the world and makes us sensitive to our Shepherd’s voice. This spiritual liquor is the very substance of our ministry to the hurting. Here is how Secker says it.

“My cup runneth over.” Wherefore doth the Lord make your cup run over, but that other men’s lips might taste the liquor? The showers that fall upon the highest mountains, should glide into the lowest valleys.“Give, and it shall be given you,” is a maxim little believed. Luke 6:38.

The inebriating nature of the new wine of the Spirit has been seen in every generation. Augustine said it was the cup that the martyrs drank from. Apparently the intoxicating nature of the overflowing cup empowered believers to face and endure persecution in all ages. Here are Augustine’s words.

“My cup runneth over.” Or as it is in the Vulgate: And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is! With this cup were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognized not those that belonged to them; not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations; while they gave thanks and said, “I will take the cup of salvation!”

We have no idea what tomorrow holds or who the Lord will put in our path for ministry. How can I be ready for whatever? I will lift up the cup of David to the Good Shepherd until it overflows.