Sermon Illustration and Teaching on Psalm 23: 1-6 – The Lord is my shepherd, I want not want.
There are lots of biblical interpretations, expositions and commentary on Psalm 23 KJV and other translations. Those article you have read are good too but there is a unique feature about this commentary, you will see it as you read through. This article gives a detail explanation and commentary on psalm 23 with good biblical interpretations and references. Psalm 23 was written by King David and he wrote it this psalm during the time of persecution by King Saul.
- Psalm 23:1 (NKJV): The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
- Psalm 23:1 (NIV): The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing
- Psalm 23:1 (ESV): The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
- Psalm 23:1 (KJV): The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
- Psalm 23:1 (AMP): The Lord is my Shepherd, [to feed, guide and shield me], I shall not lack.
Psalms 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, I Shall not Want. What is the meaning of psalms 23.1-6? This is a popular scripture that everyone knows as well as the entire passage. People can recite it off hand too. Suffice to let you know that the main point or message of this psalms is very deep to fully understand. Psalms 23 is beyond recitation and memorizing.
There have also been many misinterpretations of psalms 23 by many preachers. Learn some basic bible techniques and how to study the bible for better understanding here. The first verse of Psalm 23: the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want is the main or key verse wherein all other things on that passage depend on. The reason for the last statement will be seen later, just keep reading.
Background story or Knowledge of Psalms 23: The Lord is my Shepherd (NIV)
Employing some biblical skills, we will consider the following: observation, characters, and setting, the flow of thought of the passage and the rest of the skills too. Firstly, psalms 23 was written originally in the Hebrew language. This was an experience the King David had and could be anyone’s experience if you trust in the Lord and make Him your Master. Checking the flow of the passage, you will observe that there is one major character who is King David.
You remember the moment someone stays in the cool of the day or after a long activity began to recount the good and ugly experiences encountered in the journey of life. This passage suggest that very kind of mode where King David captured all the moments of his herd-ship in the wilderness. He remembered the moments of dry pastures and how God provided, how he was led through the times of troubles such as wild beasts and his enemies. He realized that these were possible because the Lord was his shepherd. After recounting those moments, he wrote it down for posterity. There is safety, protection and guidance in having the Lord as shepherd.
Also, the flow of the psalms suggests or pictures a grazing field with hills and valleys (…He makes me lie down in green pastures, even though I work through the valley of the shadow of death…). Also, there is one powerful observation here, the writer was imagining his experience in tending sheep and comparing it to how God cares for His sheep too (that is His people).
The full passage of Psalm 23 pictures the image of a man or shepherd with his sheep on a mountainous area or grazing field. Considering how dry the area use to be, how he depended on God’s help and provision. The help was the provision of pasture, protection and deliverance from the dangerous beast, and provision of water in such a manner that was beyond expectation. Imagine a desert and mountainous hills and also the shepherd staying on one of those mountains with the sheep down the valley while he writes his experience or lost in thoughts.
The passage also pictures a man’s situation when he checks his state of nothingness. He considers his incapability to fend and care for the lives under his care. Then he began to count several means through which help has come to him by God and he translated this experience into writing. In general, David portrayed a scene of how the shepherd (God) provides and cares for the sheep (man) in the grazing field (Earth).
Teaching, Exposition and Commentary on Psalms 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Verses one of the psalms 23 down to the endpoints to Lordship, leadership, submission and acceptance. The writer submitted and accepted the Lordship of the Master (LORD). It points to leadership in the sense that, the submission for the Lordships and leading of the shepherd assures him that he will not lack anything.
A sheep that desires protection and good feeding need a good shepherd. Also, a sheep needs a shepherd to be numbered amongst the sheepfold. The passage started with the “LORD”; for God to be your shepherd, He has to be your Lord (Master) or Shepherd and you also have to acknowledge Him as Lord (Master).
A man was created insufficient of himself, which made him dependent on His creator. Therefore, God becomes his covering, on the earthly realm of spiritual fatherhood, man also must not be without a covering; this way protection and guidance will be assured. Also, through the gospel, Apostle Paul became the spiritual father of the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 4:14-17).
John 10:14-16, states that Jesus is the good shepherd and He knows His sheep and also, His sheep knows Him. Jesus made a statement in the same passage that shows the inclusion of the Gentile nation when He said that…” other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring and they will hear my voice and they will be my flock and one shepherd”. (The benefits of shepherd hood is found in John 10:25-29).
Notice that verses 15 of John 10 referred to the Gentile nation which through His death, included all men to partake of His kingdom and granted salvation to all humankind ((1 Corinthians 5: 15-19). This inclusion was done by and through Christ and the work of reaching out to the Gentile was handed to Apostle Paul in Acts 13: 46-48. Who has believed our message and to who has the arm of the Lord been revealed? How will they know if someone is not sent? So Paul was the apostle to that nation.
The next statement is:
…I shall not want.
A good shepherd supplies all good things to the sheep. Considering John 10:11 states “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep”. Though Jesus referred to His death here in salvation for all so that anyone who believes becomes a sheep under His sheepfold. So Jesus Christ died for all for the salvation of all so that we can partake in God’s kingdom.
Speaking as one who knows his identity in Christ, if you repeatedly say recite this verse, you will realize that David spoke with a boldness; he also has confidence, trust and assurance that he lacks nothing under the shepherd hood of the Lord. Though sometimes, it does not look like something is happening, still trust in the salvation of the Lord. Prophet Habakkuk puts it very well in Habakkuk 10:12.
The benefits of having Jesus as Lord or shepherd is the abundance of life and care. Now, Christ has given us life through His death, checking these scriptures John 10:11, Colossians 3:4, Galatians 3:14, 2: 20-21 and Romans 6:1-14. Therefore, the first thing you shall not want or lack is life in Him, both now and in eternity to come. Also remember that His life is the light of men (John 1: 4).
Another aspect we shall not want is grace. The glory of Christ is full of grace and truth and through Him, we have received grace and truth (John 1: 14, 16). Grace comes in manifolds. I shall not want or lack the grace to live righteously and any other kingdom lifestyle. Some manifolds of grace include grace to fulfil a purpose, grace to marriage, grace to make wealth, grace to endure hardship in persecution, grace to live a consecrated life, grace to fulfil career, the grace of salvation, grace to stand firm in Christ and many other aspects of life. (Check these scriptures to learn the different administrations of grace- 1 Peter 5:10-11, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:19, 1 Peter 4:10, Ephesians 2:8-10).
Another aspect you shall not want is mercy and justification (1 Corinthians 1:30). This passage revealed reveals that Jesus became for us wisdom, sanctification, redemption and justification. He also became our peace. Sanctification was possible because mercy prevailed which granted us justification to remain as children of God (Roman 5:6-11. 16-19).
I shall not want. Having become a sheep of the Lord, responsibility is laid on you to keep obeying His instructions. Also, living a life pleasing to Him and seeking intimacy with Him. Good things come from the Lord, and those who trust in the LORD lack nothing good. Though sometimes, He allows ugly situations our way so that our faith may be proven strong. Now, there are challenges God will allow you to go through, there are also some He will deliver you from and there are those He will deliver you in. All you need is to keep trusting and obeying Him. We shall not lack in all things including spiritual and physical resources (Galatians 3: 13-14). We shall also not lack in purpose, marriage and other things too.
Psalms 23: the Lord is my shepherd- commentary on psalms 23:2-3
Psalms 23.2-3 NKJV: “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name sake”.
There are some keywords you need to observe critically; they include: makes me lie down, leads beside the still water and restores my soul. David acknowledged and understood the working and dealings of the Lord in his life. Therefore submitted more to Him. Psalms 34:10 lets us know that the young Lion lacks and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord will not lack anything good. This is how it is to who has Christ as his shepherd. Matthew 7:7 tells us to seek and we shall find and anyone that seeks finds and Matthew 6:33, tells us to seek the kingdom of God and all other things will be added to us. This is to tell you of your priority when you are under His Lordship.
The making of a submitted man is the responsibility of the Lord through the dealings of the Holy Spirit. Also, on the other aspect, Lord makes us before He presents us or to enjoy the pasture of His provision. See this: God cannot dispatch you until he has broken you, if you are not broken willingly, you will be broken by force – (Apostle Johnson Suleman).
Firstly, looking at the aspect of provision, the Earth is dry and scarce of the provision that satisfies the spirit of God. So God takes pleasure and glory through our lives and worship of Him. Live situations make a man’s life dry and when you are cut off from the life of God or vine (as the case of a branch), your life becomes dry because you are not receiving any supply from (Vine) Him (John 15).
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; this means that God make you to settle download in abundance when He bring you to the place of His will for you. Checking the passage of verses 2-3 of psalms 23, you will realize that the making comes before the lying down in green pasture (so He you are made to lie amid the pasture). Just look at a shepherd who found abundant pasture after a long search, he tends or makes the sheep lie down before or after eating. Since the pasture is in abundance, there will be no need to rush, now if the sheep is stubborn, he beats or forces it to lie down.
Sheep eat while standing but why will David say that He make it to lie down? It means that God makes His sheep dwell in an abundance of provision. But mind you that before the dwelling, He must have made you through the testing of faith. Some of the pastures may refer to wealth, marriage, spiritual gifts, anointing and any sphere where you yearn for.
In search of greener pasture in life, the Lord leads you and when He brings you to the place of your pasture; He makes or breaks you to submit. The reason why He will break or make you is so that He will not lose you amid the pasture. God is so jealous that He cannot afford to lose you for vainglory. He is more interested in your life than the provisions He makes. Meanwhile, God is interested not only in your spiritual life but in your wellbeing too – (Apostle Arome Osayi).
Take, for instance, the Lord cannot bring you to the place of wealth and abundance if He has not built you to sustain the stature or posture of maturity to handle it (Luke 16:10-12). The making of a man to sustain the posture of maturity is a lifetime project. The more you submit to Him, the more He makes you, the more He provides and the more He continues to make you. He makes me…. In the making of man by God, the attitude of the sheep (man) is obedience and submission. God in His sovereign power can bring you to your pasture and still will not allow you to eat or eat if you prove disobedience (ask Moses) and also because you have not proven worthy to submit (lying down). He also does this to see your preference, if you will choose pasture over Him or Him over the pasture. But always chose Him because He is the provider. Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added; pursue to know Him and have Him, not pasture.
The making of man can be in battles of life, challenges of life and life afflictions which are for a moment (Jesus learnt obedience through the things He suffered and today He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, having the despising the shame endure the cross for the glory that was set before Him). Just know that the afflictions you suffer are not worthy when compared to the glory that will be revealed in you after a season. This previous passage of the scripture clearly explained verses 2-3 and stated all that is set before us if we arm ourselves with the mind Jesus had. The Lord makes you in the place of prayer and study of His word. (Luke 8:13, Mathew 13:20-21, 7:24-27 and psalms 66:8-12).
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Another aspect of the making of man by God is through consecration. Consecration is setting apart of yourself for God. Consecration is the passage of the believer through death on the cross where you die to sin and have dominion over sin which is available in Christ (he who is dead is free from sin, consecration is the system to achieve death to sinful life). It is a means to achieve holiness. According to 1 Peter, all Christians are called to holiness because God is holy.
God is Holy and we are required to live holy to have constant intimacy with Him. Setting apart is abstaining from selfish ambitions, the lust of the eyes, and the lust of the flesh and pride of life so that you can be used by God and also do priestly and kingship ministry on earth. We are created to give honor to Him through our lives, living to please Him and living to fulfil His heart desires. All of this is because of His name, He does not like His name to be profaned. You can study the following scriptures below for a better understanding.
(Hebrew 12:1,James 4:8-10, 1Peter1:22-25, 2:9-10, 3:15-17, 2:4-5, Romans12:1-2, 6:1-end, Colossians 3:5-11, 1Thessalonians 4:3-5, Psalms 51:7, John 17:17, 2Timothy 2:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:5:14-15, 1 Corinthians 10: 14, 6:18, Gal 3:27, 2:19-21).
We are still on psalms 23 verses 2-3. Considering the full statement of what He makes us, leads us and restores; all these happened because you are under His Lordship.
“He leads me beside the still waters”. This speaks of an uprising situation and storm of life. He calms it down (check Mathew 14: 28-33, Marks 4: 35-41 and Psalms 93:3-4). He will lead you besides (that means, the storms will rise against you but will not hit you because He is there as a shield and guides you on the path of freedom or stillness). Besides the side waters tells us that when matters arise, there is a way where the challenges are not which are calm. The path where the problems are not found is where He will take you through. He leads you in the path that is just and free of troubles too; do you remember that thousands may fall by your right and ten thousand by your left but none will come to you? (Isaiah 43:1-2, 19b).
The leading sometimes comes by you hearing His voice or witnessing in your spirit or heart (Hebrew 1:1-3, Isaiah 30: 21, 28: 11-13, 55: 3, and Psalms 69: 1-2,14). Now, there is always this kind of fear we have when we are faced with challenges. Sometimes, our heart leaps in fear that is why He restores your soul to enjoy peace. The evidence that shows the restoration of your soul is the presence of peace of God, sometimes, that peace passes our understanding. You have heard about the Gift of faith right?
This peace comes with an assurance that builds more faith in us. Also, another sign is the rise of faith in us. We receive faith from God to face the rising storm. These are things that God does in us. In the face of challenges, the gift of faith comes and because you have a substance that furnishes your conviction, you are moved to continue your life journey (Ephesians 2:14, Romans 14:17, Psalms 51:10-12 and Philippians 4:6).
Next, that comes as a result of His Lordship over you is that He leads you in the path of righteousness for His namesake. The lifestyle of the Kingdom must not lack in the path of him who is under the Lordship of Christ. The kingdom of God is founded on righteousness and justice. God cannot make you lie in green pastures, leads you beside the still water and restore your soul and not lead you in the path of righteousness. The hallmark that God is behind your success is the life of reverence and righteousness that accompanies it. If you have all these provisions from God and with peace but lack righteousness, then that peace or joy is incomplete.
God cannot take you through a journey that His name will not be registered on it. He does things to please Himself. Do you remember that He exalted His name more than His word? So God will not be involved in a breakthrough where you do not acknowledge Him, submit to Him and live His life. Whatever you do, if Christ is not registered in it and cannot receive the glory due Him, sorry it is a waste of human effort. Christ is the foundation that upholds all things, when God lifts you and you decide to lift your soul to vanity, then His word which upholds all things fights you. Do you remember king Nebuchadnezzar? (Daniel 4:28-36).
When people hear the testimony of success and breakthroughs that lack life transformation in Christ, then the source is questionable. The life of God which is embedded in righteousness is the very essence and priority in the Kingdom of God. Where the life of righteousness is evident, there is a kind of assurance and peace that people have around.
Righteousness is having right standing with God. It is the living of the life of Christ here on Earth. It is the major thing that we are to seek when we seek the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Seeking for righteousness is like seeking wisdom which Job 28:7-28 revealed to be likened as a path of a gold mine. There is a path that no one knows and living creatures have not journeyed through. That is why God Himself will lead you through the path. You should be familiar with the scripture that tells us that the road that leads to the kingdom is narrow and few finds it. If God does not lead and guide you through the path, you will miss it all.
Going through the scriptures, you will discover that righteousness is the main focus of the kingdom of God. Now, Christ became righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), and it is still Him leading you in Himself through the Holy Spirit. Submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit to fully express the fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT is the pathway to living righteously.
Commentary on Psalms 23 verses 4 to 6
Psalms 23 verses 4 shows the realm of comfort we have in Christ as our Lord. It states that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil. When Christ died, He overcame death and he who holds the power of death (Hebrew 2: 14-15). Also, those who through fear was kept in bondage were freed from their captivity. There is a realm of comfort and confidence you have because the Lord is with you and guide you.
When Christ is your Lord, He wills you the power and you walk in the realm of confidence and comfort. Do you know why? The name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run to it. You will drink deadly poison and it will by no means hurt you. John 17:33c, 1 Corinthians 15:55 and Romans 8:37 tells us that death has been conquered and we are victors in Christ and also more than conquerors.
What do rod and staff mean in psalm 23? Checking by context, (God’s) the rod and the staff speak of authority and it is through its workings that comfort comes to you. The reason why you will not fear any deadly valley is because the authority of God is in you and you also represent an ambassador of authority. When you have power and authority over something, you do not need to be afraid because you are above; therefore they are at your mercy.
Part of our identity in Christ is victory. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. All that belongs to Christ belongs to you. Base on the finished work of Christ, you spend from what Christ has provided for us through His death. That is why you were given the right or exousia to become the son of God (John 1:12). So God by His sovereignty guides you and also gives you the power to exercise and extend His reign on Earth.
In verses 5, to the man who has submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, He will prepare a table for him before his enemies. Preparing a table in this context means the provision of a daily meal or things to satisfy your daily needs. Israel asked God if He can prepare a table for them in the desert and God was angry with them.
They felt God was incapable of such provision and this is what your enemies think too. There is no need to dwell your thoughts on material provision as the Jews did in Matthew 6:25-33 in place of the kingdom matters. Also, in a bid to shame them, he does it in their presence. He will also anoint you such that your cup will overflow. (2 Corinthians 4:7, 2 Kings 4:1-7, Psalms 78: 19-20 and Psalms 92:10).
Now, my cup runs over in psalm 23 speaks of abundance. Cup is a receiving instrument and when the God of all sufficiency fills it, He does it to overflow only on the condition you keep being a empty and hungry heart. If you understand the oil stop flowing because there was no available vessel to fill 2 Kings 4:1-7. Sometimes, we lack faith that we have nothing, all it takes is believe in what the word of God said about your condition and make yourself ready in consecration to receive. It was also King David that said that the Lord will exhort his horn like the horn of a unicorn and also will anoint him with fresh oil. His anointing introduces you to a realm of performance.
Verses 6 is the concluding remark that assures us of two personalities that follow us always and forever which is God’s goodness and mercy. They stand as your body guides which God releases to guide you always. Therefore there is no need or interference of darkness because goodness and mercy follow you.
Lastly, you will see the commitment of David to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Though he referred to the presence of God (Psalms 91). One day in His presence is more than one thousand years in the world. Also, the temple of the Lord is your body and because of that, you are required to keep it holy and abstain from every form of immorality. Your mind is to see how you can be clothed more with glory than living a life that destroys the temple of God (Psalms 84:10, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 5:1-7). All these came about because a man submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the experience of psalms 23: the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want is only to those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and personal savior. Also, to some people, psalms 23, is a Christian journey experience.
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