David’s sheep and I have a problem with this verse…
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want (lack). Psalms 23:1
This was the second verse I memorized from the Bible as a child after Genesis 1:1. It is so popular that even non-Christians know it by heart. It is short, easy to remember but also too familiar that we rarely pause to think about it. I can easily imagine David writing this song with a flock of sheep in front of his eyes as he is overwhelmed with thoughts about his God. Little did he know then, that this would one day become one of the most popular songs in the world. As he begins to sing, he suddenly attains a rare moment of clarity about his life as he compares his perspective as a shepherd with that of God. As a shepherd, he knew very well that his sheep did not lack food, water or protection – all the things that a sheep needs. And he realizes that similarly God has provided him with all that he needs in life and feels content. If I were a sheep in his flock that was smart enough to talk, I would have told him that there is a difference between ‘not-lacking’ and having everything we desire. Now that is a big deal from the sheep’s perspective and quite honestly from mine. It is going after what we desire that makes life exciting but unfortunately that is also the cause of most of our disappointments and sorrow.
I have spent so much time, money and energy in pursuing the things that my heart desires only to be disappointed or be temporarily satisfied at best. It must be a breath of fresh air to stop going after my desires and worrying about whats next in life – to live life passively, to depend and be lead. After all, with God as my shepherd, I will not lack anything that I really need in life. But David himself struggled to keep this perspective in his life and I have a feeling I will too.