What does Psalm 23 mean when it says, “I shall not want”?

Jan 26, 2014

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

In less than ten words the psalmist David expresses the complete confidence and sweet security of every believer: first, that Yahweh is Lord; second, that He guides and provides for those who put their trust in him; and, finally, that those who are thus cared for shall not want for any good thing.

For the ancient Near East culture to which David was speaking, the concept of shepherding meant provision, direction, and protection at the least.

And to say that Yahweh is shepherd, David insists, necessarily means there can be no true need besides. This is not a statement of the smallness of our need, but of the greatness of the Shepherd.

As Matthew Henry observes, “More is implied than is expressed, not only, I shall not want, but, ‘I shall be supplied with whatever I need; and, if I have not every thing I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me or not good for me or I shall have it in due time.’”

In this very psalm we see the life of the believer is not all green pastures and still waters but also valleys, shadows, death, evil, and enemies. But the point is that the presence of Yahweh is sufficient for it all.

And, as we will see even more clearly in the coming verses, Yahweh not only leads us to green pastures and still waters but is himself our provision and restoration. He leads us to Himself as the great answer for every problem and need.

The green pastures are nothing without the presence of the Shepherd.

Resource: Q&A
Psalms 23:1
More resources about chapter 23:
Names of God

Making Psalm 23 Your Own

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