This article is part of the Reading the Bible with Dead Guys series.
Reading the Bible With Dead Guys is a weekly blog series giving you the chance to read God’s Word alongside some great theologians from church history. With content adapted from the Crossway Classic Commentaries series, these posts feature reflections on Scripture by giants of the faith like John Calvin, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, and more.
Today we’ll hear from Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892) on Psalm 23:1.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” - Psalm 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd.
It should be the subject of grateful admiration that the great God allows himself to be compared to anything which will set forth his great love and care for his own people. David had himself been a keeper of sheep, and understood both the needs of the sheep and the many cares of a shepherd. He compares himself to a creature weak, defenseless, and foolish, and he takes God to be his Provider, Preserver, Director, and indeed his everything.
No one has the right to consider himself the Lord’s sheep unless his nature has been renewed, for the scriptural description of the unconverted does not picture them as sheep but as wolves or goats. A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with great price.
It is well to know, as certainly David did, that we belong to the Lord. There is not “if” or “but” or even “I hope so” in this sentence. We must cultivate the spirit of assured dependance on our Heavenly Father. The sweetest word of the whole is my, He does not say “The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock”. If he is a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever the believer’s position, he is under the pastoral care of Jehovah now.
I shall not want.
These positive words are a sort of inference from the first statement. When the lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love. I shall not lack temporal things: does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?
I shall not lack spiritual things; I know that his grace will be sufficient for me. I may not possess all that I wish for, but I shall not lack. Others may, far wealthier and wiser than I, but I shall not.
“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that see the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want”. Old age with its feebleness will not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom will not find me destitute.
I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because the Lord is my Shepherd. The wicked will always want, but the righteous never; a sinner’s heart is far from satisfaction, but a gracious spirit dwells in the palace of content.