WHEN SHALL I NOT WANT?
Now, let’s move on to the second half of Psalm 23:1 where David said, “I shall not want!”
So, what he is basically saying here is, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want!” In other words, the Lord being His Shepherd and him knowing that the Lord is His Shepherd was the factor in him being able to make such a concrete statement like this. We will get more into this at the end of today’s teaching…
Now I encourage you to check your heart on this one truth because, in my experience, there are those out there who, when they hear promises just like this, will give you the “Yeah, but…” In other words, they will give you all the reasons why this is not true all the time. They will give a laundry list of “Yeah, buts…”
Church, our experiences do not dictate the truth and validity of God’s Word. Indeed, let God be true and every man (and experience of man) a liar (Romans 3:4)! Our prayer today should be, “Lord, elevate our experiences to match the standard of your truth rather than us watering down your truth to match our experiences.” And everyone said, “Amen!”
You see, when it comes to some “believers,” you would think that Psalm 23:1 said, “Thou shalt not want!” In other words, they don’t believe a Christian ever needs to desire or want things. And while we certainly are forbidden to be covetous, that does not mean that we are in error if we are believing God for His prosperity. These people also like to say things like, “Yeah, but we are all going to struggle at times...” Yet we shall boldly say, “I SHALL NOT WANT!” They say, “Yeah, but what about Job?” Again, I will say of the Lord, “I SHALL NOT WANT!”
I encourage you - get on God’s side by lining up your belief system with God’s Word! Dare to believe that His Word is indeed true! This is getting out on the limb where the best fruit is! Amen.
Now there is another group out there who believe truths like this that say, “I shall not want,” but automatically attribute these promises to spiritual things. And it is certainly true that we lack nothing and want for nothing with spiritual things. For, He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3) and He has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness and has made us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). However, notice that this Psalm is not titled, “A psalm of David when he was singing about spiritual things...” In fact, when David wrote this psalm, he wasn’t thinking about Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3&4! No, He was thinking about natural things just as he was not talking about a “spiritual bear” and a “lion demon” when he referred to God delivering Him from these things in 1 Samuel 17:34-36. He was referring to how the Lord, His Shepherd, would never leave him hanging in any area of his life, which included financially.
You see, the Jews didn’t believe like much of the church does today that all of God’s promises are referring to spiritual, heavenly things. They actually believed God desires to bless them in this life, and guess what? As a general rule, they are blessed in this life! God’s blessing is upon the Jewish community and they are generally successful people according to the world’s standards.
But the church tends to make the mistake of separating these things and only applying God’s promises to eternity, while God cares about the whole man, not just our spirit. In fact, the Lord cares about your body, to where He has made provision for its redemption and glorification in the end. And I got news for you - He cares about your body now too! Yes, He always made sure that the Hebrews temple was sufficiently provided for and, in many cases, was extremely beautified. Therefore, our bodies which are called the temples of the Holy Spirit, are meant to be provided for.
Now, this word translated “want” here literally means this: “to lack, to be without, to have a need, to diminish or decrease.”
So, we can translate this verse- “I shall not lack” … “I shall not be without” … “I shall not have a need” … “I shall not diminish” … or, ”I shall not decrease.” Amen to that!
Now it is important for us to recognize why the Lord is against us lacking and wanting for anything. Sure, he wants you to have the desires of your heart and He cares about your own individual needs. However, the biggest reason the Lord wants you to prosper in natural things is so that you can be a blessing to others and that He might establish His covenant on the earth through you.
We’ve all heard those people who say, “Well, I’m alright. I don’t need any more.” Well, that’s selfish thinking because they are only worried about having enough for themselves. If you are okay with your current financial condition, praise the Lord! But believe God for all that He has for you so that you can have it to give to others who are in need! Amen?
I’m of the persuasion that when we start thinking that way - how we can be a blessing into His kingdom and how we can be used to give more to His cause - then we are positioned to have the seed to do so. But just as the Lord said, “He supplies seed to the sower,” (2 Corinthians 9:10) if we do not have seed to sow, then one possible reason for that might be that God doesn’t see us as a sower. Amen or “oh, me”!
A GOD OF INCREASE
This word for “want” is used in this latter way in the Book of Genesis to describe how the water “decreased” after the Flood. (It is interesting to note that as the waters of judgment arose the Lord also caused those same waters to lift up the ark. In Genesis 7:17, it says, “The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth”)
Did you know that we serve a God who believes in INCREASE? Psalm 115:14-15 says, “May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Now the context of this verse is the blessing that is upon His people. You see, this what the blessing does: it increases people and things - ultimately making that blessed object the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath, etc. The blessing of the Lord always takes us higher, further etc. It always will eventually increase that blessed person or thing!
For example, in Isaiah 9:7, the Lord describes to us that His kingdom is an ever-increasing kingdom. Jesus taught us this throughout His parables - that the kingdom of God is growing, increasing and abounding. In 1 Corinthians 3:7, we are told that neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but God who gives the increase. In other words, people are not our source for growth; God is. But so many people fail to understand this. I thank God for men and women who have contributed to my growth, but we must keep a sober opinion that if we are growing, it is God who is giving the increase. Amen?
Now somebody might say, “Yeah, but what about John the Baptist? Didn’t he say that he must decrease and Christ must increase?” Sure, he did, but that decrease was a specific part of God’s plan for Jesus’ ministry to gain more influence. On top of that, we should all strive to have Jesus increase in and through our lives: more of Him and less of us. So, we are not talking about increasing just for the sake of having “more for our four and our store.” No, we are talking about increasing for the glory of God and that Jesus might be made known in and through our lives.
Another word that we saw for the meaning of this word “want” is “to diminish.”
You know, in the world, everything seems to diminish. Our new car will lose that new car smell and new car shine. Our new home will eventually grow old and lose its excitement. Everything seems to diminish. But not in the kingdom; in the kingdom of God, things don’t diminish; they increase.
Proverbs 4:18 says, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” This verse is describing the rising of the sun: As it rises, everything gets brighter and brighter, and then when it gets to a certain point, we have the “perfect day” (i.e. the full light of day). This is to be the life of the righteous and the blessed. Things get brighter and brighter to us - not gloomier and gloomier! Therefore, we ought not say things like, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Rather, we should say, “Why do I need luck when I am blessed!?! I shall not diminish nor decrease because I am blessed! My path grows brighter and brighter!”
NOT LACKING ANYTHING
Now, this same word translated “want” here in Psalm 23:1 was also translated “lack” in other places.
For example, it was used this way in Psalm 34:8-10 where David said, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
Notice that in verse 8 he begins by encouraging us to taste and see that the Lord is good. It is important to keep verses 9&10 in this context of the goodness of God because the not lacking here is a product of God being good.
Now when he said that there is no want (or lack) to those who fear Him, this fear of the Lord being described here is not the being afraid of God kind of fear. We are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). So, the fear of the Lord is an integral part of not lacking because it is the foundation of wisdom, and wisdom is certainly a big part of not lacking.
When David described the young lions lacking and becoming hungry, he was not referring to baby lions; this is a reference to lions that are in their prime. In other words, even these young lions that are at their peak of strength and can hunt better than at any other point of their lives can go without. They can have days where they don’t catch their prey and eat. What this should teach us is that we need to guard against that subtle deception that if I just have it all together naturally speaking that I will not lack. No, we live in a world - in an economy - that even if you make all the right investments and are the perfect steward of your money, you can still lose everything.
This is why we are told in verse 9 that the “fear of the Lord” leads us away from lack. Why? Because respecting God’s way of doing things and trusting Him in this area is what will guard us from experiencing the lack and suffering hunger that even the “young lions” of this world will suffer. Amen?
However, we are told in the latter half of verse 10 that those who seek the Lord - those who put their full confidence and trust in the Lord - will not lack any good thing. Again, we see the word “good.” Not lacking any good thing is a promise from God for all of His children as we put Him first, reverencing and seeking Him first.
This word for “want & lack” is also used in Exodus chapter 16 to describe how when God rained manna down from heaven that everyone had exactly what they needed. The ones who gathered much had nothing left over and the ones who gathered little had no lack (Exodus 16:18). It was also used in Deuteronomy 2:7 & 8:9 to both describe how the children of Israel “lacked nothing” during their 40 years in the wilderness and how the land of promise was a land where they will lack nothing.
So, what this teaches us is that there are varying degrees to “I shall not want”: There is the not lacking in the wilderness to where they always had just enough manna and where they were certainly sustained, their clothes not wearing out and their feet not swelling (see Nehemiah 9:21). But mind you now - the wilderness was not where God intended for them to live for those 40 years. In fact, them walking around the same mountain for that long was a result of unbelief, disobedience, etc. However, they still saw the miraculous provision of God and had their basic needs met consistently. Tell me that our God is not a merciful and gracious God!
But there is also the not lacking in the promised land which is where there was not just enough provision, but where there was more than enough provision! This is the land of the blessing, where the increase abounds and where God intends for us all to live.
You know, if I were to ask you if you wanted to experience either miracles or blessings in your life, which one would you choose? Most Spirit-filled believers would likely vote for miracles, and why? It is because miracles seem more fun and they sound better. But did you know that the majority of the miracles that the children of Israel experienced were while they were in Egypt and the wilderness. In other words, miracles were experienced the most in adverse, unpleasant circumstances. My point is - miracles usually come on the heels of crisis’. So, if you are praying for more miracles in your life, just be prepared to have some alarming situations that require miracles. No, saints, the best place to live is in the blessing because, while miracles bail us out of tough situations, the blessing will prevent tough situations.
Yes, God wants us to live in the blessing of the Promised Land, not the miracles of the Wilderness. Sure, there will be times where we will need miracles and where it seems as though we are in a wilderness, but that is not where we are intended to live. The miracles of the wilderness were not God’s best then, nor are they now. He wants to abide in the blessing of Canaan! Amen!
And just because we are looking at mainly Old Testament examples, do not make the mistake of thinking it was different under the New Covenant…
Many do. There are lot of people who are under the deception that Jesus was poor and, therefore, wants us poor. But that’s not true. How many poor people do you see having their clothes auctioned off? How many broke people do you see having a treasurer? No, in fact, in Luke 22:35, Jesus asked His disciples, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” Their response was - “Nothing.”
So, Jesus’ disciples never lacked! And why? Because the Lord Jesus was their Good Shepherd. Therefore, they did not lack any good thing! Amen!
BECAUSE THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
And that is a point I want to leave you with today: Us not lacking is always on the heels of Him being our Shepherd! In other words, if the Lord is not truly our Shepherd - that is, if we are not hearing His voice, being led by Him, etc. - then we won’t see the fullness of His provision. Yes, we are responsible to hear and know His voice and also to be led by Him as His sheep, because if we refuse to heed His instructions and follow Him, we are the problem, not God.
Let me give you a few Scriptures that verify this: In Luke chapter 12, Jesus made a promise to ensure His disciples that they never need worry, but that God will always care for them.
In verses 22-30, Jesus exhorts us, His disciples, not to worry about what we should eat or how we will be clothed, etc. He tells us not to have an anxious mind about these things because our Heavenly Father knows what our needs are. Then, in verse 31, He says, “But seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you.”
Now Matthew’s account of this says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: This is important to bring out because it is not as lucrative for us to seek the kingdom seventh, fifth or even second. No, we are commanded to seek the kingdom and His righteousness first. And as much as most Christians would like to think they are already doing this, I can assure you that most are not seeking first the kingdom of God. Yes, they might seek the kingdom of God to some degree, but the vast majority of Christians do not seek His kingdom first - that is, above their own basic necessities, their own desires, etc.
Now, as we’ve made the point of already, God does care about your needs and He wants to give you the desires of your heart, but He has called us to care more about His kingdom’s cause than any other thing.
Now we are still talking about living the good life because how many of you know that experiencing the good life comes by laying our lives down for the greater good of the kingdom. This all needs to be said because experiencing God’s best is greatly determined by seeking first His stuff above our own. Amen?
Then Jesus went on to say in verse 32, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Here, Jesus was establishing our hearts in a very important truth - that the reason we do not need to fear or worry about our needs being met is because it is our Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!”
So, again, our belief system of understanding the goodness and grace of God is super important in receiving from Him. And this Scripture teaches us that He doesn’t want to give us just enough; he wants to give us His kingdom - the very kingdom that He told us to seek. So, what the Lord was saying here is seek first the kingdom because the kingdom holds all the things that you need and desire anyway.
Many miss this because they think seeking the things is how they obtain them; No, Jesus taught us to seek His kingdom and we will obtain them! Why? Because every need and desire are found in His kingdom to start with. Amen!
Now a very important point here is how He referred to us as His “little flock.” Little flock of what? Of His sheep, of course! Now a flock of sheep was not a band of pets. You realize that, right? Back then a flock was a business! So, we are God’s business, and God will take care of us! Amen.
King David said in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Hallelujah, this means that you can live to a ripe old age, and you will not see the righteous forsaken by the Lord or that righteous person’s children begging for bread!
Now someone might be thinking, “I think I have seen this, pastor.” Well, lets define who’s the righteous. It is worthy of noting that verse 26 goes on to say that he is ever merciful and lends; and his descendants are blessed. So, here David is assuming the righteous deeds accompanying the righteous man or woman. But my point is that this person is a GIVER, being ever merciful and lending.
You see, this is what makes Philippians 4:19 a reality in our lives…
Most of us are familiar with this verse which says, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” However, people like to just claim that promise, but many fail to understand the context. What is the first word in that verse? It’s “And,” right? “And” is a conjunction, correct? Well, the premise for God supplying all our need is what? Us seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness based on Matthew 6:33 but also based on this verse because the church of Philippi gave generously to Paul in his need (see Philippians 4:13-18). But when we DO claim this promise and ARE walking in generosity, we are blessed “according to His riches in glory,” which is in proportion to how amazingly rich God is!
Saints, we need to live our lives seeking to be a blessing to God’s kingdom with everything - including our finances. And one thing I can assure of is when you do this - you cannot out-give God! He will bless the work of your hands and your seed sown! You shall not lack! And why? Because you have made the Lord your Shepherd! Amen!
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