The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want
He begins by saying, “Open to Psalms 23.”
Oh…this is going to be a mindless sermon, I think to myself. I pretty much had Psalm 23 committed to memory since 1st grade, maybe earlier. I know what its about. I can turn off my brain now and focus on the things I have to get done today.
He reads the first line and stops. The last part hits me really hard. “I shall not want”. I grab my journal and begin to write out the question in my head. “What does it mean to not want?” I scratch out quickly on the page. The speaker answers my question in the next moment. “It means that you don’t lack what you need,” he says. Maybe this won’t be a mindless sermon after all.
He proceeds to say that wanting is not necessarily a bad thing, but it crosses the line when we think we know what we need, and when we need it. Those words pierced me like a dagger. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with God that go a little bit like this: “God, I need this, why don’t I have it?” or “God you say that you are going to take care of me, why do I hate doing x so much?” or “You will give me x if you really care about me.” All of these imply that I in some way know what is best for me. But the Lord is my Shepherd, and that means I am a dumb sheep. A sheep that has no idea what I need or when I need it.
In fact, when I began to think about it, if I based my happiness on getting the things that I want, I don’t think I would ever be happy. There would always be something else for me to want, to desire, that would be stopping me from being completely happy.
He continues on through the Psalm. Each line was fresh and new and hit me in a way that I haven’t really experienced from the 23rd before. Is it perspective? Have a grown and changed that much since I read it last? Or is it that I was allowing it to read me, to ask me if I believed those things about the Lord. “Do you let Him lay you down in green pastures and lead you beside still waters?” “Does He restore your soul, or do you look to something else for that?” (that one hurt).
So…I encourage you to pick up Psalm 23 and read it with fresh eyes today. Let it ask you if you are believing those things about God. And if you are not, why not? Someone said this one time, and I thought it unbelievably cheesy at the time, but it has started to make sense to me: “Yes, we read the scriptures, but in a way, the scriptures read us too.”