I Shall not want
INTRODUCTION: Psalm 23 is perhaps the best loved, most often quoted passage in all literature, as each verse and every phrase can become a sermon in itself.
My friends, every word of this Psalm was God breathed! It was not just written by a little shepherd boy out in a field as he watched his sheep. No matter in what culture this psalm is read or in whatever generation this psalm is repeated, it is fresh, new and alive.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
PSALM 23 EXPLAINS THE SHEPHERD’S CARE. It depicts Jesus as the Great Shepherd. Again, let me call your attention to verse 1, and the phrase "The Lord is "MY" shepherd." God is a personal, intimate Saviour and Shepherd. I feel sorry for those who do not feel and experience the intimate presence of the Shepherd.
If you can say, "The Lord is A Shepherd” you can still be lost, without hope of heaven.
If you can say, "The Lord is THE Shepherd” you would be telling the truth, but you still may not know the Lord in genuine forgiveness of sin.
If you can say, "The Lord is MY Shepherd” that means all is well with your soul.
“I am the Lord's and He is mine,” can you say that? Can you say Jesus is MY SHEPHERD? The intimate fellowship of the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd, is the most precious privilege you and I have – all because of Calvary.
One cannot read the 23rd Psalm without realizing that it is written from the sheep’s viewpoint. Let’s consider some of the analogies between helpless sheep and God's frail children:
Sheep lack a sense of direction even in the familiar environment of their own territory. So it is with believers, we cannot guide ourselves. We must rely completely on the Word of God and the voice of our Shepherd-Saviour.
Sheep are awkward, weak, ignorant and virtually defenseless. The only sure protection for the sheep is the ever-present watchful shepherd. So it is with the believer, as we are admonished to be "Strong in the Lord."
Sheep are easily frightened, and find comfort only in their shepherd's presence and reassuring songs in the night.
Sheep are dependent upon the shepherd to find their food and water. Sheep have no sense of smell and may eat poisonous weeds and die. Where one goes the others will follow the leader.
Sheep's wool does not belong to the sheep. While sheep produce wool, the shepherd owns their wool. Likewise in our lives we belong to the one who owns us, the Lord Jesus Christ. In I Corinthians 6:19-20 we read, "What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and YE ARE NOT YOUR OWN? For ye are bought with a price…"
Now, you will notice as you read through this Psalm, beginning with verse 1, that shepherding is basically to keep certain deficiencies out of our lives. God's goal is to provide His people with a life free of want. Isn't that what we read in verse 1? "I shall not want."
PREVENTING DEFICIENCIES IN CERTAIN AREAS OF OUR LIVES sounds very pious and reassuring on the surface. However, when Monday morning rolls around:
And I want gas for my car, how does Psalm 23 apply?
And I want respect at my job, how does Psalm 23 apply?
And I want a raise in my salary, how does Psalm 23 apply?
And I want that new dress, how does Psalm 23 apply?
Again, notice verse 1. He is the Great Shepherd, so that I may say, "I shall not want." However, I must underscore the fact that the verse doesn’t mean that I shall not want for whatever I want.
Like many of the Psalms, Psalms 23 states its case in the first verse and simply amplifies it in the remainder of the song. Again, notice verse 1 and the phrase "I shall not want." Here is the key thought in this verse: BECAUSE THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT FOR ANYTHING and I SHALL NOT LACK ANYTHING the Shepherd says I shall not lack.
When my soul needs spiritual refreshment, the Shepherd "… makes me to lie down in green pastures."
When my soul is weary, the Shepherd "… leads me beside quiet waters."
When my soul needs revival, the Shepherd "… restoreth my soul."
When my soul needs guidance, the Shepherd "… leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake."
When my soul is confronted with death, the Shepherd walks with us through "… the valley of the shadow of death,” where “I will fear no evil. Why? “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."
When my soul is confronted with enemies, the Shepherd "… preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."
When my soul is wounded, the Shepherd "… anoints my head with oil."
When my soul needs companionship, the Shepherd commands “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
When my soul departs from this temporary, earthly dwelling place, the Shepherd provides that I may "… dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23 gives me a haven, it gives me an anchor, it gives me a focus, and it gives me a hope for my faith. It whispers to put my faith in this shepherd and things will be OK.
Here this sheep is totally dependent upon this Shepherd. Whichever way he leads me, I will follow. MY FAITH is not resting upon what I can do to achieve whatever. It is resting upon WHOM and WHAT the GOOD SHEPHARD is, none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
OUR NEED FOR CONTENTMENT is why I believe this Psalm is so dear to so many people. Here is this little sheep that doesn’t have much. In fact, it really has nothing but contentment. It is 100% satisfied.
Contentment is the faith that God controls, owns, and provides everything in my life by His love.
Turning to Philippians 4:11-12 we find a passage given by the Apostle Paul that defines contentment.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (12) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Going back to Psalm 23:1, here we have a little sheep saying, “the Lord is my shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT.” That my friends is the state of contentment.
I remember the story told of a little girl who misquoted Psalm 23:1 this way. “The Lord is my shepherd and that‘s all I want.” And though she didn’t say it right, she had it right! Though she didn’t quote it correctly, her theology was correct. And when you come to know the Psalm, you too will be able to say it correctly, “The Lord is my shepherd and that’s all I want.”
Contentment means I am satisfied with what God has given to me in my life. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” That is all that matters. “I shall not want.”
In the lives of God’s children (most of us sitting here today) GOD HAS PROMISED TO CREATE CONTENTMENT BY PREVENTING DEFICIENCIES in these EIGHT areas.
FIRST: I shall not want for rest, for in verse 2 we read, "He maketh me to lie down…" Provision has been made for rest, as Christ said in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
He has set aside a day of rest for us – the Lord's Day. What a God we have, who knows that our bodies cannot take the wear and tear of labor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
That's why He gave us the Lord's Day as a day of rest and reflection. It is best to plan your day around the house of God, instead of planning the house of God around your day.
Sunday's are to include church and rest and church. You may say, “Pastor, that's because you want people here to boost attendance numbers.” My answer would be, “No, I want you here because God says it's the right thing to do.”
In Hebrews 10:25 we read, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Beside attending the services, plan on hanging around for a while to fellowship.
SECOND: I shall not want for peace, for again in verse 2 we read, "He leadeth me beside still waters." Sheep do not drink from a running stream. They must have still water. From time to time, this has been translated, "He leadeth me beside the water of peace." Isn’t that what our souls crave – peace?
Thank God, Jesus is the "Prince of Peace.”
Thank God, we can have the peace of God.
Thank God, we can have peace with God.
THIRD: I shall not want for restoration, for in verse 3 we read, "He restoreth my soul." I have read that every sheep in a flock will leave the others and go to the shepherd at some time during the day for a little pat on the head, a little attention for refreshing and restoration. I wonder if David had this in mind when he said in Psalm 5:3, "O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
Let me ask you, have you ever been closer to God than you are right now? If you have, then you have backslidden! Oh, I do not mean that you have gone into deep sin. But if you have given up ground once claimed for Christ you have backslidden.
The most miserable person in the world is a Christian out of God's will.
The most miserable Christian in the world is one out of fellowship with the Lord.
A backslidden Christian is more wretched than a sinner who never knew God.
Someone said, "Many Christians have just enough devotion to God to keep from enjoying the world, and enough of the world to keep them from enjoying Christ. They are miserable, frustrated souls."
Listen to the words of this hymn; it's so appropriate to quote it at this point.
There were ninety and nine that safely lay,
In the shelter of the fold,
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd's care.
Lord thou hast here thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?
But the Shepherd made answer:
This of mine has wondered away from me,
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My Sheep.
If you are out of fellowship, if you are backslidden, God's message to you is, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you."
FOURTH: I shall not want for a name, for again in verse 3 we read, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." Thank God:
We are not left homeless;
We are not fatherless;
We are not left nameless; nor are
We left without a friend.
We do have a name; we are called by the name of Christ – Christian. What does that name mean to you? We ought to remember who we are.
We are Christians. We have a name that is above every name, Christian.
That's not just any name; that is the name that reflects we belong to Christ. We belong to the royal family of the universe, and you and I represent that name to those around us on planet earth. "He leads you for His name’s sake."
FIFTH: I shall not want for companionship, for in verse 4 we read, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Now I want you to notice that when we come to the 4th verse the psalmist changes persons.
He has been speaking in the third person in verse 1-3. Notice them with me. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) HE maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) HE restoreth my soul: HE leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Now in verses 4-6 he speaks in the second person, again notice those with me. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for THOU art with me; THY rod and THY staff they comfort me. (5) THOU preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: THOU anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
He has been talking ABOUT the Lord; now he speaks TO the Lord.
Psalm 23 speaks of security. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” Why? "For Thou art with me." What security this Psalm gives us. Look at verse 6, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” My eternal security is not in my performance; it rests in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is a very present help in time of need. It is wonderful to have him in the dark valley of sorrow, danger, or trouble. Great comfort comes from knowing that the Lord is ever present, "For Thou art with me."
Don't miss this cute story of a little five year old boy on his first airplane ride.
As with all little boys sitting with nothing to do for several hours, he became pretty bored and after a while restlessness set in. So the first thing he asked was "Mommy, may I have a drink?" Mother answered,, "Son you are not thirsty." "I am too thirsty," "No, son, you are not," "Am too." You know the routine, Mommy finally gave in. "Son, go and ask that nice stewardess if you can have a drink." Well, as you can imagine, after getting a number of cups of water, the stewardess strikes up a conversation with the little boy.
"You are a fine-looking little boy. Whose boy are you?" He points to his mother and says proudly, "That's my Mommy over there." Oh, says the stewardess, "You have a nice-looking mother." The little fellow says, "I have the prettiest Mommy in the world."
The stewardess asks, "Where did you get that little suit?” The fellow says "Mommy made it." She did not, but he thinks she did.
The stewardess says, "You have a mighty smart mother." The little boy responds, "Mommy made me a lot of things. She made me some candy and some cookies. And Mommy is going to buy me a dog when we get home."
He is telling about his wonderful mother when for a brief moment the lights go out in the cabin. The little boy leaves the company of the stewardess and runs to his mother and throws his arm around her neck saying, "Mommy, I am not scared, am I?" She says, "No, darling, you are not scared."
That is how the psalmist changes persons. He is talking about his wonderful Shepherd.
He maketh me to lie down.
He leadeth me."
He restoreth my soul."
Then, when in his thoughts he walks into a dark valley, he cries,
"Thou art with me."
"Thou preparest a table before me."
"Thou anointest my head with oil."
Thank God I shall not want for companionship.
SIXTH: I shall not want for Joy, for in verse 5 we read, "My cup runneth over." There is no real joy apart from Jesus Christ.
You may have what the world calls a good time, but you are not happy without Jesus.
You may drink, dance, laugh and be jolly, but you are never happy without Jesus.
You may make money and be famous, but you are not happy without Jesus.
You may achieve greatness in the eyes of the world, but you are not happy without Jesus.
The only thing that can satisfy the thirst of the human soul is the cup which the Lord fills to overflowing.
SEVENTH: I shall not want for goodness and mercy, for in verse 6 we read, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Herein this Psalm gives us hope.
God's goodness comes from bestowed blessings which we do not deserve. Think about that. Do you and I deserve all these provisions from the hand of God?. In His goodness He provides for us.
God's mercy comes from withholding judgment we deserve. If we had our just-desserts, we would all be in Hell by now. But as the song states,
In loving-kindness Jesus came,
My soul in MERCY to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame,
Through grace He lifted me.
David said, Goodness and Mercy shall follow me. They are God's sheep-dogs chasing after me. Hear the baying of God's sheep-dog, "Goodness! Mercy! Goodness! Mercy! Goodness! Mercy!" They drive me toward the Saviour.
EIGHTH: I shall not want for a heavenly home, for again in verse 6 we read, "I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever" The Psalmist is not referring to a PLACE as much as he is to a PERSON. This Psalm begins in verse 1 and ends in verse 6 with "the LORD." David longed to be in his Lord's house, because he could then be in his Lord's presence.
You see, the ultimate goal in David's heart was a face-to-face relationship with the Lord forever. David had CONFIDENCE.
As believers we will enjoy a never ending fellowship with God the moment we draw our last earthly breath. One day, either at death or at the rapture we have assurance that,
"TO BE ABSENT FROM THIS BODY IS TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD, AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD."
What a Psalm to take to heart! These are the things our Great Shepherd of the sheep will provide for us so we can say, "The Lord is MY Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT FOR THE THINGS THAT THE SHEPHERD SAYS I SHALL NOT WANT." In Jesus we truly have everything we need. Amen and Amen.
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon, “I Shall Not Want,” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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