Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

Green Pastures and Quiet Water

Tom Pennington Psalm 23:1b-2


I invite you to turn with me again to Psalm 23, a Psalm penned by David during his reign in Israel now 3,000 years ago. Here is a short, compact poem that has ministered more grace to more people even though it is from so long ago.

This week I was reading a little bit about Hudson Taylor, the 19th-century missionary to China. I was reminded of the fact that Hudson Taylor understood what it is to trust God's provision in one's life. He had complete trust in God's faithfulness to meet his needs. Hudson Taylor, in his journal, wrote these words, "Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning. He sustained three million Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. We do not expect He will send three million missionaries to China, but if He did He would have ample means to sustain them all. Depend on it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply."

During his many years of ministry in China, Taylor found himself often having to look to the Lord alone to meet his needs, and as a sort of reminder to him of the Lord's care in his life, Hudson Taylor had two Hebrew words transliterated into English, written on scrolls, and then he affixed them to the wall of his sitting room. One scroll had just this word, Ebenezer; it's a Hebrew word that simply means, thus far Yahweh has helped us. Thus far Yahweh has helped us. On the other scroll he had the words written, Jehovah-jireh, or Yahweh-jireh, Yahweh will provide. Toward the end of his life Hudson Taylor reported, "I have sometimes met people who said, 'Trusting God is a beautiful theory, but it won't work.'" He said, "Well, thank God it has worked, and it does work."

As we return to Psalm 23 tonight David reminds us of this very same truth, our Shepherd knows exactly what each sheep of His really needs and that is exactly what He provides. Just to remind you of sort of the flow in the context we find ourselves in tonight, Psalm 23 begins, you'll notice, by identifying its author, David. Once you understand that, it makes perfect sense why it uses the metaphor of a shepherd. David spent his early years alone caring for his father's sheep there in Bethlehem. So for him the image of a shepherd caring for the sheep captures the goodness and the grace of God in the lives of all of those who belong to Him.

Let's read this magnificent Psalm again together. You follow along, and as I admonished you last time, try to read along with me in your mind as though you had never read these words before and you were learning something about your God that you had never seen.

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and steadfast love will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Really, an amazing Psalm, as you noted, there is not a petition in this Psalm, not a request, not a prayer. This is a Psalm instead of trust, a Psalm of confidence in God. Essentially, if we could reduce the message of this Psalm to one sentence it would be this: Because Yahweh is our Shepherd King He will always care for our every need. He will always care for us. David was completely confident of God's goodness, both in this life and in the life to come.

Just to remind you of the structure of this Psalm, some argue about whether there are two metaphors here or one. Some say the Psalm is based around two metaphors in verses 1 to 4, the Lord as a loving shepherd, and in verses 5 and 6, the Lord as a gracious host, but we're approaching this Psalm differently and I think it will bear out as we work our way through, it really is based on one extended metaphor. There's only one metaphor here, it is God as our shepherd, but as our Shepherd King.

David begins then, defining the nature of our relationship with God, and the essence of that relationship as he portrays it here is God is the Shepherd to each of us who are His sheep, who are true believers in Him, and then in the rest of the Psalm David explains the practical results, or the practical effects, of the fact that God is our Shepherd. So really, I think the Psalm divides neatly with the statement of fact in the first half of the first verse and the rest of the Psalm is an explanation, an exposition, if you will, of that reality.

Now, last time we looked at how to think about God. How to think about God, one powerful illustration of our relationship with Him, that is simply, in verse 1, "The LORD is my shepherd." And just to remind you, I'm not going to go back through it, if you were here last time I invite you to catch up, but we went through emphasizing each of these words, the LORD, the word, the Hebrew word, is Yahweh, the One who simply is, the One who is all sufficient, who needs nothing and no one, but who relies solely upon Himself for everything. That self existent gracious One who declared Himself in Exodus 34 to be the God who is "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin," that God is the one we're talking about.

"The Lord IS my shepherd." As I mentioned last time, although the verb of being is not in the Hebrew text, all of our translations supply it, because even in Hebrew it's clearly understood. He is, this is a current reality; this is a current state of being. "Yahweh IS my shepherd." "Yahweh is MY shepherd." You know, the emphasis, really in many ways, falls here. It's shocking because the Old Testament is filled with examples, as we looked at last time, of God as the shepherd of His people, the flock of Israel as a whole, but here David dares to make it much more personal. "The Lord is MY shepherd," and then we examined "The Lord is my SHEPHERD." Now, in looking at that term shepherd we asked the question, why? Why did David choose the image of a shepherd with his sheep to picture our relationship to God, and you might be tempted to go with the easy answer, well, because he was a shepherd, but it's more complicated than that.

The image of a sheep certainly best describes us and I think that's one of the reasons he chose it, but also because the image of a shepherd best describes God's role in our lives. We will see that as it unfolds. There really is no better picture of God's care for us than that of a shepherd caring for his sheep, and then a third reason I think he chose this picture was because in the ancient world, and we see glimpses of this even in the Scripture, kings were often called the shepherds of their people. So Yahweh then, here, is likened to a shepherd because He is our Shepherd King.

Now, we noted that the New Testament tells us that this Shepherd King came into the world. Jesus said in John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd." Hebrews 13:20 calls Christ, "the great Shepherd of the sheep, even Jesus our Lord." This Shepherd, who is our Shepherd, is Yahweh, but specifically He is the second member of the Trinity who has come and has become the good Shepherd, the great Shepherd of the sheep. Just as a shepherd does with his physical flock of sheep, Christ chose us to belong to Him. He bought us. He bought us with the cost of His own blood and He knows each of us individually. He has made us His own and He delights in caring for us. You see Psalm 23 is the divine job description of Jesus Christ our Shepherd King. He labors night and day for our good. So understand this, when we say, "The Lord is my shepherd." We are really saying, in New Testament terms, Jesus is my shepherd.

Now, tonight we begin the second part of this Psalm, and I've entitled the second part, beginning at the middle of verse 1 and running through the rest of the Psalm, What to Expect From God, Six Practical Results of Our Relationship with Him. So, in verse 1, we saw: How to Think About God, One Powerful Illustration of Our Relationship with Him. But then, beginning in the middle of verse 1 and running to the end of the chapter we have: What to Expect from God.

Now, let me show you the breakdown. The second half of verse 1 is a summary of what we can expect from God, "I shall not want." And verses 2 through 6 are some specific expressions of what we can expect from God, or Six Practical Results of Our Relationship with Him. So then, the second half of verse 1, the summary, verses 2 through 6, some specific results. So let's look, first of all, at the summary in the second half of verse 1, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Those words really are the keynote of the Psalm.

What is the relationship between the first half of verse 1 and the second half of verse 1? It is one of cause and effect, because Yahweh is my shepherd, I will never want. As long as Yahweh is my shepherd, I will never experience want. Now, the Hebrew word for want here does not imply that God will so lavish me with blessings my whole life, kind of an Old Testament prosperity gospel, that there will never be anything else I want. That's not what he's saying, nor does David mean that all of my desires will be met. The Hebrew word that's translated want means to be devoid of something or to lack something. Because Yahweh is my Shepherd King, because Jesus Christ is my Shepherd, I will not lack, ever, the care I need. The one who has the Lord, the One who owns all things, will have everything he needs. He will supply for us whatever is good in itself, and whatever would be good for us.

His sheep will have everything that He decides is good for them, and is necessary for them to enjoy the gift of life He's given them to the fullest, in His time and in His plan. The main idea here in the second half of verse 1 is that our Shepherd is never lacking, never deficient when it comes to caring for His sheep. Philip Keller, who wrote a book on the twenty third Psalm, he was an Australian shepherd for a time, he wrote a book on the twenty third Psalm; he writes this, "I shall not lack the expert care and management of my master. He is the owner who delights in his flock. For him, there is no greater reward, no deeper satisfaction than that of seeing his sheep, contented, well fed, safe and flourishing under his care. This is indeed his very life. He gives all he has to it. He literally lays himself out for those who are his."

This isn't always true of shepherds. There are hirelings who care nothing for the sheep that they care for. There are also spiritual shepherds who neglect their flocks. I want you to turn with me to Ezekiel 34. Ezekiel 34, here Ezekiel compares the spiritual leaders of Israel to shepherds and he describes them in awful terms. Ezekiel 34:1,

Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Son of Man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. [These are the leaders of the nation.] Prophesy and say to those shepherds, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! [These are greedy people who are into their leadership for how it advances their own interests.] Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. [Sadly, these words are all too true in many of the churches today.] Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost, but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or to seek for them."'" Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: [Now, watch verse 10, this is shocking.] 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand my sheep from them and I will make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouths, so that they will not be food for them."'"

Not only do they not feed the flock they ate the flock. They devoured those they were supposed to be caring for. These were the spiritual leaders of Israel. So, understand there are spiritual shepherds who don't care for their flock. That was true then, it's true today, but here's the good news, that is not what Yahweh is like. That is not what our Lord is like. He truly cares for His people.

You see this, there is a lot of imagery in Psalm 23 that harkens back to the Exodus, back to what God did in caring for his people as they left the land of Israel, the land of Egypt rather, to head to the land of Israel. And let me show you His care, His physical care for Israel in the wilderness. Listen to Deuteronomy 2:7, "For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done. He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing." Nothing you needed. By the way, here's a hint that we're not talking about the prosperity gospel, because the wilderness was not exactly a fun place to be and yet God cared and provided for them through difficulty and trouble as he does for us in this life. You have not lacked a thing.

Nehemiah 9:21, "Indeed forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want;" there's our word, "their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell." When they got to the land it was no different; He continued to care for them. This was His promise through Moses as they were about to go into the land of promise. On the plains of Moab, this is what Moses said to them, Deuteronomy 8:9, "I'm going to give you a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper." Here's the point, just as God cared for the nation Israel, His Old Testament people, He cares for us as individual believers as well. So understand then, the second half of verse 1 is a summary, because Yahweh is my shepherd, because Jesus Christ is my shepherd, therefore, I will not want, because of who He is, because of His nature, because of His care.

Now in verses 2 through 6, we begin to get to the specific manifestations of His care. What is it that we will not lack? "I shall not want." I shall not lack. What? Well, in the rest of the Psalm David identifies six benefits that we will not lack because Yahweh is our shepherd. Our Shepherd King will abundantly supply all that His trusting people will ever need. First of all, we will not lack provision. Look at verse 2, "He makes me live down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters." Those verses just sort of make your heart rest, don't they? And that's the point. Obviously, grass and water are the sheep's greatest necessities and our Shepherd meets the necessities of His sheep in abundance. What I want you to see, though, is the way it's worded. Notice that both of the pleasant circumstances described in verse 2 are solely the result of the deliberate actions of our shepherd. He makes me lie down. He leads me. This describes our Shepherd's personal care and provision for each one of His sheep.

You see, sheep are the most dependent and helpless of the domesticated animals God made. They can do almost nothing for themselves. They cannot find their way. They cannot find their way back. They cannot care for themselves. They cannot defend themselves. They cannot provide the grass and water that they need. They are completely dependent upon their shepherd for everything. That's exactly how we are and because of the kind of Shepherd we have, we know that He will provide for us. Everything good that we have in this life, physical or spiritual, comes to us from our Shepherd, from His provision. Do you understand that God has promised to provide for His own?

Notice how David describes God's provision in two ways. First of all, he says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures." The expression "green pastures" speaks of pastureland with fresh, green tender grass. In other words, ideal succulent pastures, the kind of food that's perfect for sheep. Green pastures are those where the sheep don't need to keep moving from one place to another to find a little patch of grass here and a little patch of grass there in order to be satisfied. David says that our God causes us to "lie down in green pastures." Now, that is a remarkable statement. When I ask you to picture sheep lying down in green pastures, when I ask you to picture sheep in Israel, if you've never been there, I think your mind typically draws a picture of sheep grazing in green fields like the green fields of England. Wouldn't that be nice, but if you've ever been to Israel, you understand that's not the picture David had in mind at all.

In fact, Israel, as is true for many of the countries in the world with the greatest number of sheep, is dry and semi-arid. In Israel, except for a few months in winter and early spring, most of the year is very dry. The landscape is barren. It can be difficult in many places to even find a few blades of grass. In addition, sheep in Israel are commonly pastured in the wilderness; they're pastured in the wilderness so that the better land can be used for crops. So, sheep grazing in England is not the picture here. David shepherded in Bethlehem. This is a picture of what sheep grazing in Bethlehem looks like; it's a totally different picture. The typical pasture is parched land that doesn't receive enough rainfall to sustain crops, but it grows enough grass to support flocks as long as they keep moving.

So one of the shepherd's primary tasks is to find good pasture for his flock, not just in the rainy season when it's easy, but all year long. You see what David is saying? In spite of the difficult conditions, and he knew them firsthand, he shepherded in Bethlehem, he said in spite of how hard it may be, our Shepherd makes sure that His sheep have the best pastures, have green pastures. In other words, our Shepherd will go to extraordinary lengths to make sure our needs are met, but there's a still deeper meaning in this expression. Sheep will not lie down and rest if they're still hungry. They're going to stay on the move, looking for that next bunch of grass, looking to satisfy their hunger and appetite. They're a lot like my kids, and the shepherd of Psalm 23 will stop at nothing to discover the best place for his sheep to eat and he provides so well for them that their hunger is completely satisfied, and when they've eaten their fill they lie down to rest and even though the sheep have eaten everything they want and they lie down with their hunger satisfied, they are still surrounded by green grass and abundance. You see, the picture in this expression is not merely of God's provision, but of abundant provision.

Now, look at the second way that David describes God's provision for us. Not only, "He makes me lie down in green pastures," but secondly, "He leads me beside quiet waters." Our Shepherd, not only provides food for His sheep, but water as well. Like us, the body of a sheep consists of about seventy percent water on average and the water that they so desperately need comes primarily, in Israel, from three sources. One of them may surprise you and that is dew on the morning grass. In some areas sheep can go a long time without actually drinking, when it's not too hot, simply by eating the grass that has the dew on it. A second source of getting water is wells and the third source is springs and streams.

Now literally, look at verse 2 again, literally David says, "Beside waters of rest, He leads me." Our Shepherd leads His sheep to the best watering holes. Now, it's a little difficult to decide exactly what David meant here. Specifically, David may have meant by this expression, He leads me beside a slow-moving stream. You see, sheep are fearful and skittish creatures. Again, Philip Keller wrote in his book, and by the way it's an excellent little book, I will tell you that there are several, when he gets into theology he can stray a little bit so read carefully and read discerningly, but he's very insightful when it comes to sheep and he recounts an event from his own sheep herding days. A friend of his from the city came to visit and brought with her a little Pekinese dog. A flock of two hundred sheep had been resting quietly nearby. As soon as they saw that little dog get out of the car, to a sheep, they all leapt to their feet and ran away at full speed. They're easily thrown into a panic. So, in spite of their thirst, sheep will refuse to drink from a stream if the water in the stream is running too rapidly. So because of this tendency, it's not uncommon for shepherds to have to move some large rocks in the streambed into place in order to create a little dam that slows the flow of the water and that collects some water in a little basin. Only then, after it's been carefully prepared, will the sheep actually drink.

So, if this is what David is saying then his point would be that our Shepherd will expand whatever energy is necessary in order to make sure that our needs are met, or David may have meant, He leads me beside waters where sheep can drink all they want and then rest. Often in Israel the sources of water are not flowing streams, but small pools of water. They are shaded places where weary sheep can find both rest and refreshment. Sometimes this takes the form of a desert oasis. Other times there are pools hidden in the shadow of a cliff or in the shadow of some rocks where the sun has not been able to evaporate the water and where there is a natural spring. Such pools of water may be what David had in mind. If so, his point here is similar to the green pastures. Our shepherd leads his sheep to watering holes, or to oases, that have more than enough and after they've drunk their fill they can lie down and rest, and when they're done resting if they want to, they can get up and drink again. Clearly then, in verse 2 David intends to remind us of God's amazing and abundant provision for all the needs of those who are his sheep.

Now, those are wonderful promises. Sadly, many Christians read these promises and come to mistaken conclusions about what David meant. It's important to understand, you know I do this all the time to you, but it is important to understand what this does not mean. This does not mean that every true believer will be wealthy. Sadly, this text has been used to make that very point. Compare that with even our Lord Jesus Christ, who enjoyed more of God's blessing than he, and yet Matthew 8:20, "Jesus said, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.'" I could take you to Luke 16 and show you the parable Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus and here is this true believer who closes his eyes on this life and opens them in the presence of God, who lived in abject poverty, whose sores the dogs licked every day. So it's not true that every true believer will be wealthy.

God's promise of provision also does not mean that no true believer will ever experience want or some sort of, deprivation is with that should say, for any period of time. Deuteronomy 8:2-3, Moses, talking about God's true people, the nation of Israel, says, "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you. He let you be hungry, and then He fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."

Listen, there are times in our lives when God intentionally, for a time, deprives us, just as He did Israel, in order to see what's in our hearts, to let us see what's in our hearts as well, because He intends to meet that need in His own way and in a way that directs our dependence completely to Him. Paul understood this, in 2 Corinthians 11:27 he said, "I have been in labor and hardship," now don't forget, this is an apostle, "through many sleepless nights, I've been in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." In Philippians 4 he's reflecting on all of that and he says in verse 12, "I know how to get along with humble means, I also know how to live in prosperity;" he had experienced both, "in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." He knew it all. He experienced it all. So it is not true that no true believer will ever experience want or deprivation for any period of time.

In fact, think about David himself, the one who wrote this Psalm. In fleeing from Saul and from Absalom, David often found himself in want for a time. In fact, you remember at one point, the only option he had for food was eating what? The sacred bread at the tabernacle, it's all he had. So, true believers may not be wealthy and they may experience times of shortage and of leanness in their lives. You see, God in His providence may choose for us to live either for a time or in some cases and in some places in our world, for a lifetime, in leanness, but here's the key. If He does He will consistently provide for the needs of His own and in our leanness, He will bring spiritual blessing.

You see, our Lord makes whatever He gives us satisfy. This is the promise. Whatever He gives us, He will give us strength and grace and He will make it satisfy. Psalm 37:16 says, "Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked." Look at Proverbs with me, Proverbs 15. Proverbs 15:15, "All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast." It is the disposition of your heart in the end, rather than your circumstances, that affect your outlook on life, that affect your joy in life. Verse 16,

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and turmoil with it. Better is a dish of vegetables [and that's saying something] where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred.

You see what happens? God can take a little and He can satisfy the hearts of the righteous. He can make it not just barely enough, He can make it more than enough. This is who our God is; look at Hebrews 13. This is one of those great promises you ought to star and live under the shadow of, Hebrews 13:5, "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have;" and watch this, "for," because here's why you want to be content, whatever He gives you, "for He Himself has said 'I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.'" Listen, you may not have all that you want in this life, you may have leanness in this life, for a time, or for your entire life, but if you live in the fear of God, you always have Him, and that will be more than enough, that will bring satisfaction where a rich man's feast will not.

"The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want." You can have confidence in our Shepherd. Not only does He make whatever He gives us satisfy, but He always provides what is best for His own. Psalm 34:9-10, "O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord, shall not be in want of any good thing." Psalm 84:11, "The LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." This doesn't mean that He gives you everything you want, but it means He gives you exactly what you need, what's best in His providence.

Charles Spurgeon, commenting on this, this sort of contrast between the Lord providing what we need and it not always being what we want, says this, "I may not possess all that I wish for, but I shall not want. It is not only I do not want, but I shall not want. Come what may, if famine should devastate the land or calamity destroy the city, I shall not want. Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things in abound, not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because the Lord is my shepherd, God's promise of provision."

Let me summarize the promises that are really found in these two verses, Psalm 23:1-2. The Lord promises His provision, and His provision for our needs is, first of all, comprehensive. In other words, God meets both our physical needs and our spiritual needs. Now on the face of it, the expressions in Psalm 23 might seem to be solely physical, you know, water, grass, that seems to be meeting just the physical need of sheep and maybe that's all he has in mind, but it's not because the Psalm points to these provisions from God also being spiritual. Look at verse 3, "He guides me in the paths of righteousness." We're not talking here just about the food you eat and the water you drink. We're talking about both your physical and your spiritual needs. Notice verse 6, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." That's certainly more than physical needs being met.

So understand then, when I say it's comprehensive, His provision, I mean it's for our physical needs, there's no question about that, if we had time I'd take you back to Matthew 6. You remember we studied in the Sermon on the Mount where He says, why would you worry? Why would you worry about what you're going to eat when God feeds the birds of the air? "Are you not worth more than they?" "Your Father knows you need these things, so seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added to you." God's going to take care of your physical needs, in His time and in His way. There may be periods of leanness to teach us lessons, but He's always in charge. He's always our good Shepherd.

But He also meets, in addition to our physical needs, our spiritual needs. Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" And in the context He's talking about all of the spiritual things we need to live this life in a way that honors and pleases Him even through the trials and the troubles. If God loved us so much that He gave His Son for us, really, He's not going to shepherd us and provide the spiritual needs of this life for us? Second Peter 1:3, "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness." Our Shepherd meets our needs in a way that is comprehensive.

Secondly, He meets our needs in a way that is consistent. In His time, in His way, according to what He has determined is best for each sheep, He meets our needs. It's consistent; He just always does, in His way and according to His plan. Thirdly, His provision is abundant. Remember, "He makes us lie down in green pastures." When we have had all we need there's still more. Fourthly, His provision for us is appropriate. Just as a shepherd knows what each sheep needs and all of his sheep need green pastures and quiet waters, our Shepherd knows exactly what we need and that is what He provides. I don't know where you find yourself tonight. I don't know what your needs may be, but I can promise you this, if you know Jesus Christ, if you know God through His Son, He is your Shepherd. He knows what you need and He will provide.

And finally, God's provision for our needs is eternal. I love this. Notice verse 1, "I shall not want." As Spurgeon pointed out, that's looking to the future. Ever. Our Shepherd will always provide. And I love the way the Psalm finishes, "Surely goodness and steadfast love will follow me all the days of my life," every day of this life, "and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." It's eternal. Christian, you will not want our lack anything that you truly need physically or spiritually in this life or in the life to come.

In fact, turn with me to Revelation 7. I love how this picture comes back as we look to the eternal future. Revelation 7:13. You remember the scene, one of the elders said to John, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" This massive crowd, verse 9, "which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne, clothed in white robes." So the angel says, or one of the elders rather, asks John, "Who are these people?" Verse 14,

"I don't know, you know." And he said to me, "These of the ones who have come out of the great tribulation, [these are those saved during the tribulation period,] washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. [Now watch this, and this isn't just true of tribulation saints, this is true of all saints, for all time.] For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He was sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. [They live in His house.] They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

You see, our Shepherd's commitment is not just for this life, it's forever. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters." What a Shepherd we have.

Let's pray together. Father, we are overwhelmed by Your goodness to us. That we, who once were Your enemies, that we, who hated You, who had strayed from You, our Creator, that You sought us out in Christ. You made us Your own and in Him You have become our Shepherd, the Shepherd of our souls. Father, I pray for everyone here tonight. I pray for those who are going through really difficult times, wondering if their physical needs will be met, whether it's the need for a job or for the fear of losing one, or some physical struggle, or some health issue. Father, maybe there are those here tonight who are struggling responding to the trials of this life, the difficulties that you have allowed to come, and their soul feels overwhelmed. Lord, I pray that tonight You would remind them of who You are from this passage. May they be reminded that You're still their Shepherd and that You will, in Your time and in Your way, meet every need as You see best. Father, help us to trust You, help us to remember those two great words, Ebenezer, thus far the Lord has led us, and Yahweh-jireh, the Lord will provide. We pray in Jesus's name, amen.