“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” I couldn’t tell you how many times I have recited those 9 words. The 23rd Psalm was probably one of the first verses I memorized as a child...right behind “The Lord’s Prayer”, and John 3:16.
“The Lord IS my shepherd, I shall not want.” I find this passage of scripture incredibly comforting, now more than ever. In the midst of a global pandemic, where truth, myth, and fiction seem to move effortlessly through the air waves, there is a peace and a calm that settles in my spirit when I utter those God-breathed words, “The Lord IS my Shepherd, I shall not want.” There are numerous voices on the television and radio, and even in social media, letting us know that there is no reason to fear or to panic, and perhaps they are correct...to a point. The question that everyone should be asking is, “Why is there no reason to fear or to panic?” Is my lack of fear because I have put my trust in doctors and researchers? Perhaps my lack of fear is because I have put my trust in the greatest government in the world? Well...perhaps not!
Why is there no reason to fear? Here is my answer: Because the Lord is my shepherd. The Psalmist David chose to begin this psalm with a loud declaration that Jehovah is his shepherd. David had an intimate knowledge of what shepherding was all about, due to the fact that this was his livelihood prior to becoming a military genius and king. His familiarity with the ins and outs of being a shepherd gave him a unique insight about the responsibilities of the one who takes care of sheep. It would be safe for me to say that David loved shepherding and he loved Jehovah, and it made sense to bring these two loves together in an expression of his heart. He understood the duties of a shepherd. He understood the responsibilities of a good shepherd. He knew, first hand, how far a shepherd would go to take care of his sheep. So, he utters, with confidence, the first few words of this psalm and says, “Jehovah is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
This first verse is a verse filled with assurance coming from the sheep’s perspective. In Hebrew, these first words are, Jehovah ra’ah. The name, Jehovah, is God’s formal and proper name. It is the name that He gave to Moses, when Moses asked, “Who should I say sent me?” God simply said, “Tell them, I am that I am.” The word Jehovah simply means, “I am”. He is. It is the ultimate expression of being. He is always present. He is always here. He is always there. He was there yesterday, and He will be there tomorrow. His name is Jehovah. (That’s an amen moment right there!!) The second word is ra’ah, and this means: to feed, or to keep. In essence, it means to take care of someone or something. Scholars translated this word to mean “shepherd”, because this is what a shepherd does. He feeds and takes care of his sheep. David, in the very first line of this psalm, declares out loud, that if the Great I Am is taking care of me, I will never be in want. Why? Because no one can take care of me better than Jehovah!
Brothers and sisters, I am not writing this to you to tell you not to fear. Some of you may be reading this, and based on current information, you might have strong reason to be concerned about your health. That is truth and that is a fact. But...let me also give you truth and facts: If Jehovah is your Shepherd, you can have the confidence that he will take care of you. Jehovah has NEVER lost. He doesn’t know how to lose. He knows how to take care of his sheep. There is no virus that will snatch you out of his hands. There is no virus that will snatch a loved one from eternity. There will be no lack (that includes toilet paper!!!!) He will provide for your needs. He is a keeper of His sheep. He is still on the throne, and He still knows how to take care of his children.
So be encouraged today. Practice social distancing. Be mindful of others. Be a great neighbor and be considerate of others. By our thoughtful actions, our testimony of love will be greatly received by our community. In this season, let’s work together. If you see someone in need, help them out. No one, especially in our household of faith, should be in need. If you are in need, contact the church office, and we will help you if we can. Remember, we will always be better together.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Now that’s Good Word!