I would venture to say that today’s Bible quote is by far the most widely quoted and well known verse from the Bible. So much so, that I am sure that 99.9% of people asked “Bible or Not?” would say Bible. I would also venture to say that many people misunderstand what this quote means.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1 NKJV
We all want things out of life, don’t we? But if I believe in the Bible, and if it tells me that if the Lord is my Shepherd that I would not want, am I wrong to want? Of course it’s OK to want, i.e., desire things in life. Even the Bible tells us that if we delight in the Lord that He would give us the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4).
In the 23rd Psalm the word “want” does not mean the same thing as desire. It means to “be in want”, or in other words, to be lacking, or to not have sufficient means to live. Also, this quote from the Bible is not a command to not want, it is an observation that when we make the Lord our Shepherd, he provides all of our needs. It is a statement of faith and trust. Perhaps it could be better understood as follows:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I have accepted Him as the director of my life, therefore I will lack nothing that is needful because God will provide for me.
This does not mean that life will be easy, or that we will always have in abundance. It means that if we put our trust in the Lord that He is faithful to take care of us. So in the good times we can thank God for His great blessings, and in the bad times we can trust that He will see us through.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.