We all know that it takes time to build trust. It is fragile; once it is broken it is hard to gain back. We give a lot of value to something that is proven and tested over the years. Advertisement businesses capitalize on the years of experience of a certain company or a product and promote it heavily. Hudson Taylor who went to China as a missionary in mid 19th century experienced that God is trust worthy, out of that experience he said, “Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning... He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all... Depend on it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.”
My wife and I have spend our 20' and 30's serving in a faith based mission organization, in which no one from the head of the organization to the newest recruit received a salary. The motto was: Trust God for your finances. We have seen many amazing provisions of God in the area of finances. But I wouldn't be realistic if I didn't say that we also have had to learn hard lessons such as lessons of patience, denying ourselves and the dictates of culture, delayed gratification, contentment etc.
God is our shepherd, So what's next? “The Lord is my shepherd, next is; I shall not want.” Really? Is that for real? Let's see! There obviously is no problem with God, our God is almighty and all-powerful, and He is our shepherd. The second part of that profound but simple verse of the 23rd Psalm says I shall not want. Think with me…could it be that there really are two parts to this truth? God cares and provides but how about us? In spite of all God's care and provision do we still continue to want more? When are we satisfied, when is enough, enough?
Max Lucado in his book "Cure for the Common life" writes, " I' am rich enough – a phrase on the verge of extinction. We love to super size our French fries, television screens, and closets." He quotes the words of Linda Kulman "We are a nation that believes in having it all. In 1950, American families owned a car and saved for a second. In 2000, nearly 1 in 5 families owned three cars or more… Americans shell out more for garbage bags than 90 of the world's 210 countries spend for everything. Indeed, America has double the number of shopping malls as it does high schools."
A recent article in New York times "In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich" revealed the irony of so called millionaires, people who are supposed to be rich and at ease yet they don't feel rich at all because they are not Billionaires. This is just one example and there are many more who have not learned the art of saying "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
With the economic recession right now in the country many people are coming to grips with learning to do with less, trimming budgets, cutting costs. It's everywhere, in the papers on the Internet; TV people are learning to cope with less. People are forced to redefine what they really need and what they can go without. Of course some people are resenting it but interestingly many people are finding joy and satisfaction, as they stay closer to home. Instead of an exotic vacation they go sledding, instead of frequenting upscale restaurants they enjoy cooking at home and lingering around the table. My wife often says to our kids: "Happiness is not found in the mall."
Author, Peter Scazzero say: "I detach myself from the illusion that there is anything richer and more beautiful than the gift of loving and being loved."
What did it mean when David said "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want? Philip Keller who had spent many years in agricultural research wrote a book titled" A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23." He expounded on the word "Want" The word has a broader meaning. No doubt the main concept is that of not lacking-not deficient- in proper care. But it also emphasizes the idea of being utterly contented in the Good Shepherd's care and consequently not craving or desiring anything more.
When David wrote Psalm 23 his situation was nothing but peaceful. His enemy Saul, and his own son Absalom repeatedly hounded him, he was running for his life, certainly he wasn't rich as one could imagine, in fact he was living in wilderness and caves. So when he said I shall not want, he was not implying that the child of God will always have all he wants, but he will also have troubles and heartaches but in the midst of that he has learned to be content in the presence of the Good Shepherd.
The Apostle Paul in this letter to the Philippians' shares what he learned in this regard? Philippians 4:11-13 Paul had known plenty and then he also knew need. He says he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want Paul says I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
When David said, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" It was not about what he had but it was about who he had that was the Lord himself, therefore he could confidently say the Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want. Full Stop. In other words David is saying this is the God I belong to this is what He does for me. All my needs are met in Him.
Pandita Ramabai who started a rescue mission to rescue child prostitutes in India in mid 19th century said “A life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret.” During these economic hard times many live in constant fear and trepidation. You hear the news of your fellow employees being laid off and you are worried because you never know when you will be laid off. Under these circumstances whom could we really trust? Will trusting God really work for every one or only for a selected few? Besides trusting God what else do I have to do to see God providing for my needs? In order to find answers we must turn to God’s unfailing, unadulterated, proven words recorded in the Bible and to some life experiences of God’s children who have walked before us expressing unshakable faith during their time of need and crisis.
Scriptures that are pointing to God’s mighty power:
“For the Lord your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty and the awesome God who does not show partiality.” Deut 10:17
Joshua repeatedly acknowledged God as “the mighty one, God, the Lord, the Mighty One God, the Lord” (Joshua 22:22)
-King Nebuchadnezzar marveled at the Greatness of God when he saw Shadrach , Meshach and Abed-nego were not burned in the fiery furnace and said “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs and how might are His wonder! His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4:1-3)
-David wrote this Psalm when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God and my rock in whom, I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge.” II Samuel 22:2-3
-To Job’s complaints God responded with a set of over 50 questions. After this confrontation Job had nothing else to say except “I know that you can do all things." (Job 42:1)
-Towards the end of his life David said “I once was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken and their children begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:25)
“To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be his equal says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The one who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power Not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:25-26)
The beauty of our God is that though He is all-powerful and all mighty yet he can be gentle enough to be our Great Shepherd. Isaiah describes God’s gentle shepherd’s heart, “Behold, the Lord, God will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His rewards is with him And His recompense before Him. Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” (Isaiah 40:11). This Shepherd King fascinated David, so he called him his shepherd and he calls all of us to worship Him. “Come before Him with Joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm (100:1-3)
David, by saying "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" actually paved the way for Jesus who later on said I am the good shepherd. The Good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. And again I have come so that you might have life and life in abundance." Jesus also said my peace I leave with you not according the world gives. So when we come to Jesus the good shepherd we are satisfied. All our longings, are fulfilled, our needs are met. As we delight in his presence He will give the desires of our hearts. Therefore we too can truly say just like David the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.