Every person needs hope for the future as they live their lives. We have to believe there is a brighter day coming. We cannot live in this trouble-filled world without a positive expectation as we move forward. Otherwise, we would become so discouraged that we would give up––and sadly, that is where many people are today.
But it does not have to be that way. We can live with hope in the Lord.
What is hope? When the Bible uses the word hope, it does not use it like we normally do in our daily conversations. Sometimes we say something like, “I hope it will not rain today.” By that, we mean we have mere wishful thinking about the future. However, when the Bible uses the word hope, it means something else entirely. It speaks of a confident assurance in the present about what God will do in the future.
Hope in the Lord
As we find ourselves in the midst of this world that is filled with much suffering and injustice, we need to have a steadfast hope in the LORD. As the days in which we live grow increasingly darker, we must look to God with a renewed confidence that He has a perfect plan for what He will do in our lives.
I cannot think of a better place to strengthen our hope in difficult days than to look into the book of Psalms, and I cannot think of a better psalm than Psalm 23.
This psalm begins, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” It is a psalm of David, who in his early years was a young shepherd boy. He is very familiar with the role of a shepherd, as he watched over his father’s flock. In like manner, this is what the LORD was to him and to every believer today––a caring shepherd.
The Lord Cares For Us
The first thing we need to note is who is our shepherd. This overseer is not merely another person––a pastor, a parent, or a friend––undertaking the watch-care of our lives. Granted, God works through people like this in our lives. But this says that the LORD Himself is our Shepherd.
The word for LORD here––translated with all capital letters––is the Hebrew word Yahweh. This is the divine name that means God is self-existent and self-sufficient. It indicates that God has no needs to be met within Himself by anyone or anything outside of Himself. God is all-sufficient and is, therefore, able to meet all our needs.
This name for God––Yahweh––also means that God is never-changing. We live in changing times, do we not? The stock market is rising and falling. The price of oil is fluctuating. The government is constantly changing its policies.
Yet there is one constant in our lives that is never-changing, and that is the LORD Himself. He is our immovable anchor in the raging storms of life. He is our firm cornerstone in these earth-shaking times. He is our sturdy rock in these unstable seasons and our unassailable refuge when we are threatened. What a strength the LORD gives to our easily frazzled hearts.
Leading and Guiding
Please note the verb here: “The LORD is my shepherd”––not that He might be my Shepherd, nor He could be, or would be. Rather, this affirms that the LORD is my Shepherd. This is a statement of fact. Every moment of every day, He is constantly tending to His flock. Even when we go to sleep, the LORD remains awake and watches over us.
As our shepherd, the LORD assumes the total responsibility for our wellbeing. Sheep cannot take care of themselves. They do not know where the green pastures are. They do not have a sense of direction. They do not know where the still waters are. Sheep are defenseless against wolves and lions. They are exposed to thieves and robbers. They wander over the edge of cliffs and fall onto ledges. They slip into holes and cannot escape. Sheep desperately need a shepherd.
In like manner, how much like sheep we are. We easily become fearful and lose our way. We find ourselves straying in the wrong direction. As a result, each one of us needs the LORD to watch over us.
We need a shepherd to care for us as we are exposed to constant dangers. We find ourselves worrying, “What does this crisis mean for my future? What does this time of uncertainty mean for my family? What does this trial mean for my livelihood? How am I going to survive? How am I going to function?”
This psalm assures us that the LORD is guiding us in our most difficult hours. He is providing for our every need. He is protecting us from present dangers. He is strengthening and encouraging us in our times of fear.
Supplying All Our Needs
In the second half of verse one, David adds, “I shall not want.” If the Lord is your shepherd, all of your needs are met in Him. He is watching over us and meeting our needs on every level––spiritually, emotionally, physically.
We do not need to look within ourselves to find the solution to our problems. Neither do we need to first look around us for help. Instead, we need to look upward to the LORD.
Rely upon the LORD to supply your needs. He will work through people that He has put in place around us. But the ultimate source for every blessing and every provision in our lives is the LORD Himself, our good Shepherd.
Our Sure Testimony
Perhaps the most important word in this verse is the little word “my.” David said, “The LORD is my shepherd.” Can you say that? Is He your shepherd? Do you know Jesus Christ, who claims, “I am the good shepherd” ( John 10:11, 14)?
Are you one of the LORD’s sheep? This means that you have confessed your sin and committed your life to Him. It means that you have entrusted your soul to Him. If you have made that commitment, the Lord assumes full responsibility to take care of you.
However, if the Lord is not your shepherd, you are on your own. You will soon discover that you are not able to provide for or protect yourself. If there is ever been a time in your life when you need the Lord to be your Shepherd, it is now. Turn to Him by faith. Put your trust in Him, and He will supply your every need––both in this life and in the life to come.