But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever.—Psalm 52:8
As he encourages himself in God, David utters: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack” (Ps 23:1). What a bold and positive statement to make! At first glance, however, the words seem quite absurd. Here is David in the midst of intense privation, hunted and hounded by hostile enemy forces, deserted by many of his former supporters—yet quietly affirming, “there is nothing I lack.” In the past I have known many Christians who have had great difficulty in understanding this phrase. They have said, “How can I recite this verse with any meaning when I want so many things? I want a happy family, better living conditions, an adequate supply of money, employment, a wife, a husband” and so on.
David’s meaning becomes clear when we dig a little deeper into the original Hebrew words that are used. Our translation says: “There is nothing I lack.” Another puts it like this: “I shall not lack any good thing.” “The main thought,” says one commentator, “is that of not lacking—not being deficient—in proper care, management or husbandry.”
So what David is really saying is this: no matter what hardships or privations come my way, I am confident of this one thing—that I shall not lack the expert care and tender supervision of my Master and my Shepherd. There were many things that David lacked—he lacked the comforts of life, family affection, physical security, and so on. What he did not lack, however, was the assurance that God was with him in his difficulties, managing his affairs and turning all his stumbling blocks into stepping-stones.
Dear Lord Jesus, You who took everything that men threw at You and made it work toward Your ends—teach me how to do the same. Impress this truth deeply upon my spirit: that it is not what happens to me, but what I do with it, that determines the result. Amen.
Isa 40:11; 41:1-10; Dt 33:27; Ps 18:35-36
What was God’s assurance to the children of Israel?
What was the psalmist’s affirmation?