Featured Artist: Becky Mathew | Come Awake Writing Team
Series: Day 14 | Psalm 23:1-6 | He Restores My Soul | For His Name’s Sake
Some of the first verses I memorized as a kid were Psalm 23:1-6. The same is probably true for most people who were blessed to grow up in Christian homes. When you take the time to read and study it, it’s easy to see why so many parents and Sunday School teachers choose to teach these verses to children.
They are fundamental.
However, memorizing these verses as a child and hearing them over and over again made them somewhat meaningless to me for quite some time. I remember pondering on the first verse as a little kid in grade school, trying to make sense of it:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. | Psalm 23:1
I was too young to understand the significance of the semicolon. Thus, I usually read this verse as, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.”
T O T A L L Y
I have a pretty terrible memory with regards to almost everything, but I vividly remember the inner struggle I had concerning this verse. Even at that young age, I remember feeling torn between what I was reading and what I knew to be true. It seemed as if the verse was saying that I should not want the Lord, but I knew that I should want Him. So what did I tell myself when I sensed this inner battle?
“Just don’t think about it.”
And that’s what I did. For a very long time. I chose not to think about that verse because it didn’t seem to be aligned with everything else I was being taught about God and Christian living.
This was my response as a gradeschooler.
Unfortunately, it was a bad habit I continued to perpetuate as I grew older. When conflict arose, I ran. When something seemed contrary to what I had been taught, I ignored it and pretended it didn’t exist. When something made me feel uncomfortable, I looked for the quickest way out. I still struggle with these things, almost three decades into life!
Being challenged and confronted with the realities of this world is necessary for growth as Christians – and as people in general. Since I didn’t learn the importance of this early on, it stalled my growth in many ways. Yes, there is wisdom in being cautious. But as with everything, there is also a time to challenge ideas, to question firmly held beliefs, to study things for yourself.
At some point, we have to grow up and decide if we REALLY believe the things we were taught. We have to assess if we were taught things the right way, the best way. Sometimes we’ll find that we were, and sometimes we’ll find the opposite to be true. And you know what? That’s okay. Because parents, teachers, and older folks are people just like us. They make mistakes and are granted a learning curve too. The point is that we all need to be aware of the importance and benefits of challenging things, regardless of who we are.
During church one day, many years later, Psalm 23:1 suddenly made sense to me. I saw the semicolon. I knew what it meant. And I vividly remember the rush of joy and excitement that filled my heart in that moment.
The Lord is my Shepherd, the Good Shepherd who leads, protects, and provides for His sheep. And because I have Him and all that I need and want in Him, I have no want for anything else in this world.
Oh, what blessed peace for my soul!
The Lord is our Shepherd, y’all! So we don’t need to fear when we choose to question, challenge, and study things for ourselves. If we truly believe that the Lord is our Shepherd, that He will lead, protect, and provide for us as we continue on in this life, how can we justify not grabbing hold of these opportunities for growth? Will not a deeper understanding of the Lord allow us to say confidently about all that is in this world,
“I shall not want!”
Parents, teachers, mentors, elderly folk, older youth – this verse is for you too. As you teach, mentor, advise, and guide, remember that the Lord Himself is the Shepherd of these precious souls you care so deeply for.
Show them you believe it.
When those little eyes see you living this out so practically with what they know is most dear to you (them), they will grow to understand these words and see Him as their Shepherd as well!
May we live confidently for the Lord, trusting Him to be our Good Shepherd, who leads, protects, and provides for us as we seek out opportunities for growth. And as we grow in Him, may we be found wanting nothing else apart from Him.