Last week, I wrote about the first sentence of Psalm 23 and what it means to declare, “The Lord is my shepherd.” The statement invites God to direct, manage, and work in a believer. When someone submits to the Lord, wonderful benefits fill that person’s life. The majority of this well-known psalm describes the beautiful blessings that flow from the Shepherd to his sheep.
I Have All I Need
In the KJV (King James Version), Psalm 23:1 eloquently defines the two-way relationship between God and his people, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The NLT (New Living Translation) modernizes the second half by stating, “I have all I need.” Simply put, this verse describes a cause and effect inherent in our relationship with God. If I follow God, he will give me all I need.
What do I need?
Verse two continues the thought by listing those needs, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.” The most basic needs for any living creature consist of food, water, shelter, and sleep. Our Shepherd provides these needs.
Human needs seem more complex than those of a sheep. They only need food, water, and a safe place to sleep. Humans can’t just wander into a nice field for a meal; there’s planting, harvesting, money, and jobs involved. It would be easy to assume God can’t handle these more complicated situations. But, he can and does.
More than a decade ago, my husband and I were not following the Lord. We had wandered far away from our shepherd. My husband worked business contract jobs. It’s the nature of contract work for there to be gaps between projects–not a day or two, but a month or two. During this time, gaps in my husband’s jobs could be three or four months. In one case, we experienced a six month gap without work.
When Hubby and I answered the call to help plant a church, God directed him to contract work again. I was terrified. My stomach churned at the thought of experiencing all that uncertainty and insecurity. I’ll admit I did not trust God to provide for my family’s needs. However, Hubby flowed from project to project. There were no gaps. He stepped seamlessly from one job to another. Other contractors noticed. One asked him his secret to finding such consistent work. He told her, “I’ll be happy to tell you, but it’s not going to be what you think.” At her urging, he explained that God was the true source of his contract jobs.
What’s the difference in these two work experiences? In the first one, we had left the shepherd’s path. In the second, we followed him where he told us to go. In the first, we couldn’t find green pastures. In the second, our shepherd lead us right to them. God can easily provide in this complicated human world, but only if we are walking where he leads.
Our shepherd not only supplies our physical needs but our emotional ones as well. Worry eats people up. It destroys our days and devours our sleep. It constantly lurks ready to overwhelm with thoughts about work, finances, relationships, and health. I’ve heard critics argue that the Bible doesn’t apply to current culture. Yet, people worried about these exact same things in Jesus’s day. Check out this passage from Matthew 6. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? …These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”
Verse two describes not only our physical needs, but it also implies the peace that comes from knowing those needs are met. The NLT brings focus to the serenity that comes from following the shepherd. “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”
Our Shepherd does more than meet our basic needs; he frees us from the worry about those needs. “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalm 127:2
Instead of filling our thoughts with our needs, we should instead focus on God. Matthew 6 continues with this encouragement, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” The closer we grow to him through study and prayer, the more we will sense his guidance in our lives. As we follow where he leads, he will provide for all of our needs.
I pray for you all to experience the blessings that come from a close walk with The Shepherd. If you have questions about this or any other spiritual matters, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to chat with you!
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