I remember as a child growing up in a Christian home, struggling with my Bible memory verses and puzzling over Psalm 23 verse 1. The only translation I knew back then was the King James version and the way it read was “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
In my young mind I reasoned: Okay, the Lord… that’s God. He made me and everything, and He is my “shepherd.” That’s good too, isn’t it? I mean He guides me and looks after me and stuff like a man looking after his sheep. But “I shall not want”–? Why wouldn’t I want Him?
As I looked at the possibilities from all angles I eventually came to the conclusion that the verse must mean that because the Lord is my shepherd I probably shouldn’t want anything else. I mean, I should just be satisfied with Him… right? I quietly scolded David for not completing his sentences. He should have written “I shall not want anything else!”
Then one day I came across the passage in a more recent translation. It rendered the verse “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not lack any good thing.” Aha! The dusty old light in the back corner of my attic brain clicked ‘on’! “Want” meant lack, to fall short of having enough of something. Because the Lord is my shepherd and looks after me He will see that I will always have enough of what I really need!
Almost immediately another Old Testament passage also clicked clear — the one about King Belshazzar* reading the handwriting on the wall of his Palace informing him he had been weighed in God’s balances and found “wanting.” I got it! It meant his life had fallen short… his kingship had not pleased the Lord, and now God was about to take it from him. (In fact, Belshazzar was killed that very evening.)
But no such worries for me! “The Lord is my Shepherd!” He will see that I always have all that I need. Sometimes He gives His Sheep green pastures, quiet waters, and refreshed souls. Other times He gives guidance in which path to take, or courage when we must walk through dark valleys.
What Freedom indeed it is to have the Lord as one’s Shepherd!
Is He yours?
* Daniel 5:27
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