I Shall Not Want.
Last week I started a series of posts on Psalm 23 by telling my personal story of salvation. I wanted to lay that foundation because as believers we have the undeserved privilege of calling the all-powerful God of the universe our Good Shepherd. This week I want to continue Psalm 23 by discussing the second phrase of verse one, “I shall not want.” I often need to remind myself of the promise this sentence holds, so I want to dig deeper into it.
It does NOT mean I will have everything I want.
This verse is not an endorsement of the “prosperity gospel” line of theology. That line of thinking isn’t backed by scripture. Take the Apostle Paul for example. Prior to his conversion he was a rising prominent religious leader with the title and lifestyle to match. Post conversion he was an outcast from his former society with no possessions to his name who spent a significant portion of his life in prison for the sake of the Gospel. I certainly don’t think Paul had everything his flesh desired. This is where I need to check my thinking and ask the Lord to direct my priorities. More often than I like to admit, the things I claim to be needs are mere wants. As I will soon learn, air conditioning is not a need. Even our healthy desire to be near our extended family is not a need. Not all of our wants are wrong, but they also may not be best. Since God is all-good and all-knowing, He only gives us that which is truly for our best at that time. I’m so thankful that God loves me enough to save me from the things I think I need.
It does mean my physical needs will be met.
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” Matthew 6:26 NASB
I love this verse and it’s powerful reminder that we don’t need to worry. Our loving God makes sure the birds never run out of food, and we are so much more important to Him than birds. We are His children. He will not let us go hungry because He is faithful and He loves us.
It does mean my emotional needs will be met.
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 NASB
“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.” Psalms 32:10 NASB
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11 NASB
Peace, lovingkindness, joy. These are just a few of the emotional benefits that God freely gives to those who love Him. As our Good Shepherd, He longs to bless us. We need only ask.
It does mean my relational needs will be met.
I have seen this point evidenced clearly in my own life. By His grace, my relational needs have always been met. First, He gave me incredible earthly parents who are always there as my constant source of love, encouragement and guidance. He gave me sweet friends in early childhood. He gave me new friends when we moved to Memphis. Then middle school came and things got tough. I thought I was never going to have any real friends. But God knew exactly what I needed and He gave me several sweet friends that I cherish for being there for me exactly when I needed them. Then high school rolled around and God gave me my best friend. She fulfilled my prayer for someone who would “flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22 NASB
Then God brought me Josh who has been and will always be my favorite person to do life and ministry with. God knew I needed someone who would see my weaknesses and sins, be willing to call me out on it, love me in spite of them, and encourage me to let God change me. Throughout my adult life God continues to prove that He knows I need relationships by granting me sweet friends who are like-minded and encouraging. With all of the faithfulness God continues to show me, why do I doubt that God will bless me with precious friendships while we are in Malawi? My prayer is that God will grant us friends who spur us on as we pursue God’s call.
It does mean my spiritual needs will be met.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3 NASB
“and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6 NASB
I am currently doing Priscilla Shirer’s armor of God study, and one of the themes she has been teaching is “heavenly places.” Here is what she says about Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6.
“Not only is every spiritual blessing you will ever need for walking in victory in heavenly places, but even right now, you too are seated in heavenly places with Christ at the right hand of the Father…because of our spiritual location, we always have hope. And, through Christ, we can bring the victory of heaven into our experience on earth.”
What an amazing promise. God blesses me so richly that he sits me at the right hand of the Father and gives me access to every spiritual blessing I need. All I have to do is humbly ask. That gives me confidence that I can do whatever Christ calls me to, even move to the other side of the world.