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Psalm 23 – Stuck on Line #1

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)

The verses above are from a passage that’s a favorite for many. Like me, you may have memorized this psalm as a child, or perhaps you’ve simply read it so many times you know it by heart. Yet despite all the review I’ve done of this famous psalm of David, I often find myself getting stuck right after the acknowledgement, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Yes, I believe that sincerely: Jesus is my Lord, my Savior-He is everything to me. But, I still find myself “wanting.”

Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with wanting things. Actually, I believe one of the most wonderful aspects of being human is our God-given desire to strive and achieve. These drives cause us to wake up each morning to try to make a difference in our world. They encourage us to be creative, take chances, and make changes in our lives. Yet these endeavors are truly most enjoyable when we are also able to take time to appreciate what we have accomplished. In other words, there must be a balance between wanting to do more and constantly being stuck in a state of wanting.

This is when the “quiet water” moments of our lives become essential. David talked about taking time to rest and relax-realizing that “rest” is a chance to literally be restored by the Lord. These restful times allow us to reflect on our blessings, appreciate where we’ve been, and even dream about where we may be going. And then when it’s time for the journey of life to resume again, that too becomes an opportunity to be led by God in ways that will not only be productive but will also please Him.

For me, this process has boiled down to one word: contentment. Can I be comfortable with my life just as it is? Can I be okay with what I’m doing, what I have, and where the Lord is leading me? This kind of satisfaction allows me to rest in each moment of every day, even during times like these:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

(Psalm 23:4-5)

Now that’s putting contentment to the ultimate test! Can you and I be content when things get tough? When we’re in a down season, a dark place, or even dealing with evil-can we be satisfied with the situation God has placed us in? I don’t know about you, but I want to be like King David who exclaimed with confidence, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need” (New Living Translation).

Discovering this state of contentment should be part of our spiritual journey. It’s not easy to find, but once we reach that place, our perspective will change. Sure, we’ll still want to achieve great things for the Lord, but we’ll be satisfied in the process of getting there too. We will have lots of hopes and dreams, but our daily duties will be just as gratifying because we’re pleased with where God has us right now. And this is when all we really “want” will be whatever He has to offer.

Thought of the Month

Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6