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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-467111283Unfortunately, Psalm 23 has often become associated with death and funerals within American culture. Yet in reality, this psalm is a psalm about living, and it provides the reader with the needed assurance in order to be radical for God. It is, as one commentator puts it, “…one that puts daily activities, such as eating, drinking, and seeking security, in a radically God-centered perspective. This psalm invites people into a declaration of trust that is both extraordinarily courageous and coldly rational.”

It is safe to assume that if you are reading this, you are no stranger to moments in your life when you wanted and needed to feel comforted and protected. Many turn to Psalm 23 in times of comfort, especially the comfort of a gentle shepherd. I remember a few months ago when I was walking into a Sunday school classroom for small children and on the wall was a cartoon rendering of Jesus playing with sheep in a meadow. For a brief moment I stopped and wondered if God is just a gentle shepherd. What I love about Psalm 23 is that it provides a deeper understanding of what it means to have God as your shepherd. Although I know that there are many sermons written on this passage of Scripture, I’d like to focus only on the first verse: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

As you read this description of the LORD, it’s important to remember that the Psalmist, David, was a shepherd prior to being king over Israel. In 1 Samuel 17:34-36, David actually presents his resume of a shepherd to Saul as evidence that he can defeat Goliath:

“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

So what does this mean for you and me? The LORD is not a passive shepherd; He is an active shepherd. Let us remind ourselves of this truth when we go into seasons where we feel like God is doing absolutely nothing in our lives. Let us remind ourselves of this truth when we feel like our affections are wandering toward something or someone that doesn’t satisfy. It is because of the profound truth of a pursuing, protecting, and gracious shepherd that the psalmist says “I shall not want.”

So my prayer for you today is this: that the LORD’s pursuit and faithfulness to you would be enough and that His faithfulness to you is so that you may know and be known by Him. Let us remind ourselves that because we have a self-existent, self-sufficient God who chooses to pursue us and protect us, we shall not want, we lack nothing, we have all that we need. Like the psalmist, let us place our assurance fully and solely in God.  

Vivianne Castillo
Ministry Fellow at Penn