“I shall not want” Psalm 23:1b
“Want” is a disastrous desire. The craving for “things” can overwhelm our sensibilities and drive us down a road to dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction leads to restlessness. Restlessness is the chief enemy of contentment.
When David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” he was making a statement regarding the first of several benefits that come from our decision to surrender control of our life to Jesus. The well-being and care of any flock are dependent fully on the care provided by the shepherd. (In my last post I discussed Jesus’ qualifications to be your shepherd.)
There have been a variety of interpretations regarding David’s statement, “I shall not want,” that have misled people to an unhealthy expectation or incorrect gauge of God’s blessing in their life. There are some who believe a Christian should never have a need in life.
The needs in my life present an opportunity for His miraculous provision to be experienced. God will sometimes allow a need in my life to grow bigger than I am comfortable with in order to exhibit an even bigger miracle. These big needs matched by an even bigger miracle leave no doubt that God is my provider.
These misinterpretations become like a myth in the world of faith. A myth is accepted as truth if it is repeated enough. We tend to accept a myth on its merit. Myths, no matter how good they sound, will not produce the results it promises.
#1 A follower of Jesus will live a pain-free, sacrifice-free or disappointment-free life.
A study of David’s life reveals how he was a man who understood deep personal pain, sacrifice, and severe disappointment. Even when Jesus was among us He stated, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” Matthew 8:20 By His comment, Jesus could be classified as homeless.
#2 God’s blessing is measured by material wealth or prosperity.
Prosperity is a test, not a blessing. What we do with prosperity is the blessing. John the Baptist lived in the desert, dressed in camel hair and ate wild honey and bugs. These were not stylish choices but characteristics of someone who had nothing.
Yet Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11
In Mark 12:41-44 Jesus is watching people go into the temple to bring their offerings. He points out to His disciples, a woman who put two small copper coins in, worth only a few cents. He teaches that she gave more than all those who brought in bags of money. A poor widow sacrificed to give all she had was seen by Jesus as being wealthier than those who gave much without sacrifice.
When David said, “I shall not want,” he was proclaiming his complete contentment in his shepherd’s care. Contentment was not the result of the absence of need but trust that in his need, his shepherd would provide what was needed.
In Philippians 4:10-13, a Christian by the name of Paul, shares the power of contentment. Paul learned to be content whether he was just getting by or whether he had more than he needed. The seasons of need or abundance can feel like being on a roller coaster ride. But Paul learned how to keep his equilibrium through it all.
When he said in verse 13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” it does not mean that he gained an unlimited set of skills. We all have talents and abilities and there are things we can’t do. Contextually Paul is boasting that whether he is in need or has an abundance, he has learned how to carry-on and not be deceived by his circumstances. Paul discovered how to remain connected to God no matter his situation.
Making the Lord your shepherd produces contentment in your relationship with Him because He personally assumes responsibility to provide for you. No matter what situation you are facing today or if it feels like God has forgotten you, know that He is setting the stage for one of the biggest miracles you have ever seen. Carry-on!