The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
–Psalm 23:1 NET
When I first read the Bible as a child, I thought that the words “LORD” and “Lord” were just identical titles for God. For some reason (I figured in my young mind), God wanted to emphasize His title in the Old Testament, so He capitalized all the letters. I’ve since come to realize that “LORD” isn’t a title but a name. When Moses requested to see God’s glory, God introduced Himself with this statement: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, . . .” (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV). In Hebrew, “LORD” is YHWH or Yahweh and means “I AM that I AM.” The LORD is the self-existent, eternal One.
HE is the shepherd of Psalm 23, the one true God who has life in Himself. Everything that exists was created by Him, for Him, and receives life from Him (Colossians 1:16-17). I AM that I AM lacks nothing in any way. He is perfectly whole and gloriously good in His being: merciful, gracious, patient, loving, faithful, forgiving, just, without a whiff of sin.
This is wonderful news for sheep! Sheep are social animals that don’t have the know-how or skills to survive on their own. They can’t clean or defend themselves. Because they bond closely with each other, they naturally follow one another and are vulnerable to mob mentality. Sensing their vulnerability, sheep are easily panicked. What a touching portrait of who we are as human beings. Whether we admit it or not, we are utterly dependent on God.
A few months ago, I became a grandmother. My daughter-in-law invited me to come help her when she and our new grandson came home from the hospital. During that precious week I relived the wonders of birth and the complete dependence of a newborn. My grandson looked at me with unblinking, sweet innocence. He was helpless to care for himself in any way. Of course, that was just fine with me! It meant I could pour out my love for him in all kinds of everyday ways. This was tender shepherding at its best.
The invitation of Psalm 23 is for us to be ourselves—sheep—because “there is absolutely nothing that God lacks. We must understand this, because the overflowing sufficiency that we will experience when Yahweh is our Shepherd lies in the all-sufficiency of the Shepherd himself. . . . What we need, God has—in infinite supply.”* When we follow Yahweh, His wholeness weaves our fragments together, His love quiets our insecurities, His goodness renovates our hearts. With the LORD as our Shepherd, we lack nothing that we need.
ACTION: What is your picture of God? Answer personally, without referring to creeds or Scripture. What do you think about your answer? Do you feel that you lack something you need right now? How might God use this situation to shape your heart for good? What would “secure” look like in your relationship with the Shepherd?
*Life Without Lack, Dallas Willard, p. 31