After David testifies that the Lord is his shepherd, and after he submits to the Lord’s authority, he makes a bold claim; I shall not want. This is not a suggestion that David is without desire or wants. It is the definitive claim that he makes after his observation and experience of guidance, provision, mercy and grace. It is the last statement he makes before he elaborates on why he is no longer in want.
Whenever David decided to step out from under the Shepherd’s care it cost him, it cost others. He did experience the goodness of the Lord, but he also experienced heartache and misery. Psalm 51 is a testimony to the brokenness and rejection that he felt when he was confronted about his adultery and murder. It seems clear that David’s shepherd Psalm was written later in life, a time when he could appreciate the Lord’s involvement, even when it included correction.
It took David a lifetime to figure out that it is best to follow the Shepherd. It took him a lifetime to realize that the Shepherd provided all of His needs, his greatest need. He did not need to go elsewhere. He eventually discovered that the Lord is sufficient satisfying all of the innate cravings that he had to serve self, to be loved, and to be accepted. He found fulfillment and love in the Shepherd, he no longer had want. I shall not want.
What does this mean for us? Our wants, self-service, the need to be loved, to be accepted, the need to judge others and to be better than others, and our insecurities manifest our lack of gratitude towards Christ and our futile longing for fulfillment in things other than Christ. They are attempts to satisfy a need that can only be satisfied through a personal relationship with Christ. We can find fulfillment in Christ. It may take a lifetime of lessons for us to identify with the shepherd Psalm, or we can learn from David’s example and glean from the words he writes about the Shepherd. Whichever it takes, maybe one day, you and I can honestly say we are without want.
We are afraid. Our fears of being alone, abandoned, disliked, wrong, or rejected can only be replaced by the comfort and care of the Shepherd. I have learned, through my experiences and relationships, that people are (I am) fragile. It takes very little to stir up strife and contention among Christians. People become defensive, point fingers, and criticize others at the slightest problem or difficulty. This emotional chaos happens when Christians find fulfillment in how they are perceived by others. When we fully understand who Christ is, and who we are because of Him, we can rest easy, without want.