Have you ever truly considered the latter part of this verse? Wow, what a bold statement. "I shall not want", is a sheep who is utterly satisfied with its owner and content with its lot in life. Many feel they are missing things in their lives because they are not satisfied with their owner and not content with their lot. They feel this way because the Lord is not their shepherd, even though some may try to claim He is.
The word "want" is literally speaking of not lacking, not deficient, in proper care or management. It is not speaking of the lusts of the flesh. 1Jn 2:16 The word want has a second emphasis and it consists of not desiring anything more. Ps 34:9-10; Phil 4:19 "Want" is not referring to struggles and problems. Have you ever thought of David's (the author of this psalm) struggles? He was a man who had intense privation, hardships, personal poverty, and an anguished spirit. We look at him as the king who messed up with Bathsheeba, but he had it good. Sorry, but he had about nineteen attempts on his life. After all that he still says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." It is just absurd to think we, as children of God, should have no struggles.
Consider men like Elijah, John the Immerser, and Jesus himself. We must keep a balanced view of Christianity and realize these men have experienced great personal tragedy. Should we be any different? Jesus himself said we would have tribulation. Jn 16:33 "I shall not want" is not addressing personal tribulations. Look at what Jesus said to the rich young ruler in Mk 10:21. "I shall not want" is not addressing material or physical poverty. Christians must take a long hard look at life and realize he or she may be called on to experience lack of wealth or material benefits. Jesus tells us to do three things. He says we are to deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. Lk 9:23 If you are choosing things in your life that pulls you away from serving the Lord in whatever capacity you desire to serve him, you are not answering the threefold call. I know plenty of people who desire to serve the Lord in mighty ways but they are making decisions in their financial and material lives that keep them from achieving this desire. There are hardships we all face. Yet amid these hardships of following Jesus a person can boast, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
When all is said and done the welfare of any flock is entirely dependent upon the management of their shepherd. It is the shepherd, manager, boss in your life who makes the difference in your destiny. Are you following Jesus, materials, finances, or self? The decisions you are making answers that question, not what you say. Many people are following the last three but are poor in spirit. Some are following the first one but not the last three. These people are usually full of a deep, quiet, and settled peace. Contentment is the hallmark of the person who is boasting, "I shall not want" because their lives are in the hands of the Good Shepherd. In this country we have unparalleled wealth of material assets yet we are amazingly insecure. We are insecure and unsure of ourselves because we trust too much in the flesh (Pr 3:5,6) and and are spiritually bankrupt.
We must be content with what our shepherd has for us. That is what It means to not be in want. Many are missing things in their lives because they are following the wrong shepherd. We put too many burdens on ourselves. We have a God who wants our burdens so we can be at peace. Ps 68:19 In spite of having an owner and shepherd like that some people are just not content with His control. I used to call that person a "Carnal Christian."
I read a story of a shepherd who had an ewe that exemplified a "Carnal Christian." He wrote that the ewe was very beautiful, had a strong constitution, and an excellent coat of wool. She did, however, have one bad fault. She was discontent. He wrote that this one sheep caused more problems than the entire flock combined. He said this ewe would find a way around his fence and would constantly be found feeding on bare, brown, or sun scorched places that were of inferior sorts of what he provided for his flock. Soon enough she taught her lambs the same tricks. They were following her example. Then the other sheep began to follow her bad example of discontentment. He said she had to go because he discontentment was leading others down a dangerous and treacherous path, literally. She was ultimately butchered to protect the flock.
This sheep was not realizing that she would not be in want with her good shepherd. She wanted to venture outside the fold to seek better things and she was cut off from the flock. Today, we call that backsliding. I called that Carnal Christianity. Lately, I have began to call it Haran Christianity because many Christians are only trying to go halfway! When all is said and done, whatever tricky little name we came up with, the discontent sheep will be cut off. Jesus said in Jn 15:1-11 that if we don't abide in him we too will be cut off.
Actions speak louder than words, is what my Mom always told me. She said don't listen to people watch people. Jesus said, "...you will know them by their fruits."
Today, be a fruit inspector and make sure your fruits say what your lips say. Make sure you are following the Good Shepherd and not an impostor. Only a sheep in the Good Shepherd's fold can say, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
We must hear the Word of God: Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4
We must believe or have faith: Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31
We must repent of our sins: Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30
We must confess Christ before others: Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37
We must be immersed into Christ (baptized) Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38
We must be faithful: Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22