Sometimes we can become so familiar with something that we stop recognizing and appreciating its beauty. I think that’s definitely true of the twenty-third Psalm. The words have become so familiar that we skim right over the surface of them, without allowing them to get inside of us and penetrate us to the core of our being. We do this at our own expense, because the words of this ancient prayer are chocked full of beauty and life.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” begins the familiar refrain, “I shall not want.” And we need to stop right there and begin to consider the depths of what has just been said. We need to give these words the time and the space and the attention they deserve. And if we do, they will do a work in—and then through—us. After all, what does that really mean anyway? What does it really mean that the Lord is my shepherd? And how is it even possible for me not to want?
The word for want in the Hebrew is chacer, which, at its core, means to be lacking. So if the Lord truly is my shepherd, whatever that may mean, then I will not be lacking. I will not lack provision, I will not lack affection, and I will not lack worth and value. He is enough. He is enough for me, and I am enough in him. How incredibly freeing! But do I really believe this? Do I really believe God is enough? And am I able to trust in, and rest in, his enough-ness?
For if I do not really believe God is enough, I will never be able to lie down in green pastures or be led beside quiet waters. I will be too busy and frantic trying to provide for myself, and prove to myself and my world that I am worth loving. I shall not want always precedes being able to lie down in green pastures and being willing to be led beside quiet waters. If I can come to terms with the enough-ness of my God, and, therefore, the enough-ness of myself (in him), then I can really be free from want. Free to love and to serve those in my life and my world without needing them in some sadly dysfunctional way.
The kicker is that I must truly believe that God is enough for me. And I must truly believe that God is enough in me. And I must truly believe that God is enough through me. That alone is the only thing that can restore my soul.
So, I have to ask: Is God enough for you? I mean, really? What does the enough-ness of God do within you? How does it free you? How does it give you rest, and restore your soul?
Thanks be to God, our Good Shepherd, that he is enough. Even to the point where we can not want.