“The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1)
One of the most impactful practices I work to maintain is meditating on Scripture. To be honest, I am very imperfect in the discipline, letting it slip by the wayside too often, but every time I return to the practice, I am surprised at its core impact.
Over the last month, partially as a way of counteracting the effects of the Covid crisis, I have been meditating on Psalm 23, perhaps the most well-known of all the psalms. When I slow down and dwell on its words, I center both my mind and soul.
Everything in our society elevates and encourages striving. We strive to be our best, strive to achieve our dreams, and help our family reach their full potential. The apostle Paul was not a stranger to striving and echoed this when he said, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3: 13-14). Complacency and mediocrity have no place in the walk with God.
The other side of the coin, though, is contentment. Right after Paul wrote to the Philippians of “pressing on,” he then added, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11). Too often, our striving represents a discontentment with what we have and the provision that God has provided. I continually fight my tendency to want more, whether it is more food, more money, more technology, more free time.
This is where Psalm 23 comes in. Consider the various ways different translations render the first verse of Psalm 23.
The Lord is my Shepherd,
- I shall not want. (KJV, ESV)
- I have everything I need. (Good News Translation, The Living Bible)
- I lack nothing. (NIV)
- I have all that I need. (NLT)
- I don’t need a thing. (The Message)
- I always have more than enough. (The Passion Translation)
When I repeat these various interpretations of the original Hebrew words, I am struck by how different they are from my internal wiring. This contrast is even more arresting, given how much I truly do have. Many people have far less than I do, yet I still allow discontentment to inhabit my soul. Repeating these words when I pray, and continuing to mull on them throughout the day, begins to alter my motor revving at high speed. Then, my heart slowly follows with thoughts of health and healing.
I lack nothing – Thank you, Lord.
I lack nothing – I can breathe again.
I lack nothing – It’s all going to be okay.
I lack nothing – I trust You, Lord.
I lack nothing – I don’t have to always push.
I lack nothing – I don’t need to buy anything.
I lack nothing – God is enough for me.
I need these words of healing and peace to counteract the dissatisfaction and ingratitude that I easily fall into. They are the beginning point of Psalm 23 from which God offers us a better way to live our lives. I encourage you to repeat these words, “I lack nothing,” throughout the day until they take root and begin to reshape your thinking and your heart.