This is an excerpt continued from my Book, “Walking in Christ” and specifically the Chapter, “Walking In Peace and Security.” Over the next week or so, I will be posting the teaching as it deals with Psalm 23 and its significance and importance in a Christian’s life. The Book is available in PDF form by clicking the link, Walking In Christ, or the picture of the Book to the right of this article. It is free for anyone who wants to read it. Again, the download is free. Part I begins with verses 1-3.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
Even though this is one of the most beloved Psalms and poems, it is not for everyone. Rather, this psalm refers to those who have made Christ, the Good Shepherd, their Lord, through a definite act of faith. We are only His sheep if we have personally accepted Him as our Good Shepherd. Joel 2:32 states, “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered.” Also, Romans 10:9-11, 13 says, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ For, ‘Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’” You can see how much this is a personal relationship; therefore, He is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Everything that follows this statement belongs to me; it is mine personally. My parents can’t acquire it for me. My friends can’t give it to me as a gift. I have to make the life-changing personal decision on my own, and you can see that it is not just a matter of saying something, I must believe it in my heart. We need to be very mindful that the God who searches the hearts knows our true heart condition.
Now notice the implication in the statement, I shall not want. All of my needs will be met. Notice it says needs. If I don’t have all that I desire, either it is not God’s time, or what I desire is not good, or it is harmful to me. The Shepherd knows what is good and necessary for the welfare of His sheep. His supply is based on His love for His sheep. Read Matthew 6:25-33. See how the Lord cares for what you need concerning food and drink as well as clothing. Verse 32 says that, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” But notice verse 33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” What loving concern from our Good Shepherd, and all we have to do is to follow His leading into His Kingdom and into His righteousness. Notice also that your right to choose is not violated. You have every right to continue life as you know it or to pursue after His Kingdom and His righteousness. God will never take away your freedom to choose. Just remember though, that the rewards for following Him far outweigh what you think you may possess now. When we follow Him, “All these things will be added.”
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
The Lord is concerned for our rest; most of the time much more so than we ourselves are. He makes or causes us to rest, to relax, to lie down. He makes provision and creates the atmosphere for us to rest in, if we are His and, He knows where all the green pastures are. My wife and I used to do a lot of camping in the past and every once in a while we would carry along our fishing poles. It didn’t take long to learn where the best camp spots or fishing holes were, and when we needed to get away, we would always pick out the best spots that were available. The Lord does the same thing for us. He loves us so much that when He provides not only the time for rest, He also has the best “pastures” picked out. The pastures are not only a place of quiet rest spiritually and physically, but they also symbolize the best in nourishment. In other words, our daily bread.
How often have we pursued some work for the Lord, only to find ourselves growing weary and tired? How often has the Holy Spirit, in those situations, led you to that place of refreshing and rest? He knows what is best for His children. We never lack because He supplies our needs and does so abundantly. When Christ said that He came to give life and that more abundantly, one of the aspects of an abundant lifestyle is the times of spiritual as well as physical refreshing that we get when we do rest in the Lord. “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. The humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”—Psalm 37:7, 9, 11.
God gives His children quiet and contentment in their minds no matter what condition that they find themselves in. He causes us to lie down. He is all-knowing and all-wise and only desires the best for us. The Apostle Paul said it best in his letter to the Philippians, ”I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Also, this following scripture is the whole key, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”—4:11-13. Christ Jesus is our Good Shepherd; we get our strength, our refreshing, and our nourishment, all that makes us strong, from Him.
Our refreshing comes “beside quiet waters.” Here is where we find pleasure and enjoyment. If you are a Christian, it is okay to have pleasure and to enjoy life. This attitude that a Christian should always be solemn doesn’t even take into consideration that one of the “fruit of the Spirit” is itself joy. Spiritual joy, joy from God, our Father, with which we derive strength. Read Nehemiah 8:10, and see that what I’m saying is true.
The quiet waters, still waters, does not mean stagnant, but rather the silent running waters that you would find giving life to a quiet pool; waters that are pure and invigorating. Have you ever noticed that to keep a small pool of water clean and pure, you need the running waters entering the pool, but by the same token, the pool has to be giving out waters at the same time. When we allow the Holy Spirit to use us as His vessel, His “pool”, we also will have “Rivers of living water” flowing from us, John 7:38. God’s Word is like that; ever fresh, ever life giving. His Word is cleansing and again Paul makes his point well in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.” As sheep, we are not only refreshed but cleansed by the “quiet waters.” Notice also that in the pastures we are made to lie down, but we are led to quiet waters. The psalmist says, “He leads me.” We have to follow where He leads, and to effectively follow, our eyes must be on Him. We can rest assured that it is His love that motivates Him to lead us to what is good and beneficial. When our eyes are on Him, and not always on the turmoil around us, we are assured of that perfect place of rest and peace.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the
paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Have you lost sight of the green pastures, and the quiet waters? Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He will search unceasing until you are found. Jesus gave an example to the Pharisees and scribes which is found in Luke 15:4-5 where Jesus says, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
The Good Shepherd restores. If God’s children are hurting, if they have lost something once in their possession, it is He who brings it back into being. Just as the shepherd of old, lovingly tended an ailing lamb, so the Lord tends to those of His flock who are ailing. He was lost but now he’s found; he was sick but now he’s whole. Precious are the promises to those who are willing to follow the Good Shepherd.
The soul is said to be the seat of the emotions, as well as the mind and intellect. Do you lack peace, joy, or faith? The author of these can restore them to you; raise your eyes, look to the Good Shepherd, follow him as He leads you to restoration, and allow His arms to enfold you.
Again, we see His leading, His gentle guiding hand. Psalm 37 was also penned by King David, and in verse 23, David says, “The steps of a good man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way.” Established, in the original Hebrew, means, to prepare, to make right. In other words, God prepares and makes right every one of our steps, especially in the paths of righteousness, or right standing with Him. Psalm 66:9 says of the Lord, “Who keeps us in life, and does not allow our feet to slip.” In Psalm 37, the Hebrew word for delight means, to be pleased, to have favor. When a child of God follows the steps prepared by the Lord, God is pleased with them and they find favor with God. When you follow His leading, you truly are a favored child. Following the Lord takes faith to believe that where He leads is for your best, but Hebrews 11:6 starts out by saying, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him.” In other words, following His leading faithfully is pleasing to Him. He leads us to a place of right standing before Him, “for His name’s sake!” He leads you so that He may be glorified in all that you say and do, just as He glorified the Father in all that He said and did. If you claim to be a “Christian” and are doing something at His bidding, or at the very least, say you are, then what you do and how you do it, reflects on His name. This reminds me of a certain saying a good friend of mine gave me a couple of years ago. I have it framed on my office wall and it says, “Religion says: I do the work, God accepts it, and I get the credit. But true Christianity says: God does the work, I accept it, and God gets the credit!” Everyone who claims to be a Christian, whether practicing it or not follows one or the other of these categories. If we are truly His sheep, then He should definitely be getting the credit for what is accomplished; after all, who’s leading who? When we stand before the throne of God our Father, it will not be due to the things that we have done or our worthiness, but due to the unselfish devotion of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd.