By Wyatt Trapp
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” KJV, RSV
(this is the one I quoted as a kid)
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” NIV
(this one I found in college)
“The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” NLT
(discovered the NLT while at seminary many years later)
Are these substantively different from each other?
The latter two seem to imply that all I need is supplied by God. This is confirmed by Jesus in the sermon on the mount, with the imacage of well-fed sparrows, and the beautiful Lilies that needn’t toil. Assuming He’s got a handle on what I need vs what I want, this a wonderful image of a father who provides.
Now consider the first version. God can supply all that we want, or I can just “not want.”
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall NOT WANT.”
As I am discovering the power of meditation and mindfulness, and being present to whatever is, I wonder if me “not wanting” in the first place isn’t the key. Is this what it means to have the Lord as my shepherd? To just not “want” as much?
Have you ever taken an inventory of your wants? Do you find yourself wanting something chronically? Is where you seek satisfaction actually what satisfies you? I find that many of my longings are based in a simplified fantasy of how I thought the world was when I was a kid, and I just haven’t set the intention to update them. (Imagine the impact that 34 years of unrealistic expectations has had on my wife!) Add to that my addictive tendencies — always looking for an escape. I often lament that I feel insatiable and don’t even know what for. But it kind of doesn’t matter because it’s just wanting something more than what’s right in front of me. Here I am hanging out in green pastures, being led by still waters, and yet Jonesing for more.
At the risk of sounding like a Buddhist — at these times, “not wanting” seems… well, Godly.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.