I Shall Not Want

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD


Psalm 23

I want a lot of things.

I want lots of friends. I want success and recognition. I want comfort and security. I want a new pair of jeans. I want a baby. I want to travel to Europe. I want it to be autumn all year round. I want the perfect shade of red lipstick and I want to find the best pizza in Dallas.

Some part of me believes I will be happier if I have those things. I think I’m lacking them, and therefore my life would be fuller if I could only attain them. I already have some of the things I want; I just don’t have enough of them. If you look in my closet, you’ll see the amount of denim in there is more than adequate. If I could only get this one pair I’ve been eyeing, I know I would be satisfied. That’s the cycle. I set my eyes on some goal or item or idea. I fix my gaze on it and long for it. Maybe I get it, and maybe I don’t. Either way, I’m unsatisfied. I’m left with a vague feeling of disappointment; there’s a sense I’ve been tricked somehow.

There is a beautiful song by Audrey Assad called “I Shall Not Want.” In the song, she asks God to deliver her from several things: the love of my own comfort, the fear of having nothing, a life of worldly passions, the need to be understood, the need to be accepted, the fear of being lonely, the fear of serving others, the fear of death or trial, and the fear of humility. So many of those strike a chord with me. I want so badly to be understood and accepted. I am so afraid of loneliness. My desire for these things reveals that I actually believe them to be better than the Lord and his desires for me. I believe that I know best.

The truth is, there is more joy to be had than what I can find in the temporary things I chase. King David says in Psalm 4:6-7, “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!’ You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” David’s joy in the Lord is greater than any joy that there is in an abundance of food and drink. Even compared to things that are good and enjoyable and right, he is better. He is so much better.

Audrey Assad’s song goes on to say, “When I taste your goodness, I shall not want.” You were created to glorify God and enjoy him forever. The Lord invites us in to know him, to taste and see that he is good. David says in Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” When Jesus was first calling the disciples, they had questions for him about where he was going. He answered them with, “Come and you will see.” (John 1:39) He invites us in the same way.

Psalm 19 declares that the law of the LORD is perfect. Verse 1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Can we trust the one whose glory is declared by the heavens? Surely the one to whom mountains bow and seas obey can be trusted to know and understand what is best far more than we can.

In verses 7-11, David talks about the beauty and perfection of what the Lord calls us to and commands of us.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Do you have such a high view of the law of the Lord? Do you desire his ways more than gold? Do you desire his ways more than you desire success, acceptance, security? He is infinitely better.

We’ve seen in Psalm 34 that David asks us to taste and see that the LORD is good. He continues in verses 9-10 to say, “Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”

Does this mean since I seek the LORD, I can look for that perfect shade of lipstick to show up any day now? Does it mean I will have everything I ever wanted, that I’ll never experience loneliness or insecurity or heartache again? Of course not. It means all those things pale in comparison to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8). He is more than enough. He is good, and he is better.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” He is your shepherd. He knows you intimately, and loves you with a fierce, consuming, gentle love. Trust your shepherd and follow him. He will not lead you astray, and he will not leave you in want. He is enough.

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