Psalm 23 Verse One

by Edward Langenback

© 02/24/04

Psalm 23 is a relatively small bit of scripture, a mere six verses in length. Yet there is much more to it than first meets the eye. It is an overview of the relationship that God desires to have with each of us. At the same time it also contains much more depth and meaning than a first glance will show. This is shown clearly throughout the psalm starting in the first verse.

Psalms 23:1, ">A Psalm of David.< The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

The words 'The LORD' in this verse are translated from the Hebrew Y@hovah {pronounced yeh-ho-vaw'}[strongs number 3068] The existing One, The self-existent or Eternal. (literally "I AM because I AM")

We must make no mistake, in this verse we are claiming The Etenal Almighty God Jehovah as our shepherd. This isn't just a hired hand or household member with nothing better to do. Our shepherd is the Highest Himself. He loves us so much that He trusts our care to no one other than Himself.

The word 'is' is translated from the Hebrew hayah {pronounced haw-yaw} [strongs number 1961] and means to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary)

This is saying so much more than "that's who He is." God IS our shepherd. There is a definite positive certainty. He is being, becoming and coming to pass. He is the actual embodiment and personification of the concept of timeless existence. Jesus expresses this same idea of timeless existence when explaining who He is to the Pharisees and Scribes:

John 8:58, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."

The words 'my shepherd' are translated from the Hebrew ra`ah {raw-aw'}[strongs number 7462] which means to pasture, tend, graze, feed, to shepherd, to associate with, be a friend of, to be companions, to be a special friend

This begins to increase the impact. The shepherd described here is more than a mere caretaker or hired hand. This is one who associates with us and is our companion. God is not satisfied with sitting on a throne in heaven watching the universe go by. He wants to be a companion and a special (closer than usual) friend with each of us. The name droppers of the world should sit up and take notice here at the ultimate opportunity. There is no more impressive name to drop into a conversation than to be able to casually mention that one is close friends with the Lord of all creation.

The next part of the verse is the phrase "I shall not" is translated from the Hebrew lo' [strongs number 3808] {pronounced lo or low} and expresses absolute negation, not, no, none, nay, never, neither, can not, shall not, will not. It has the effect of making a complete negative expression when it is combined with the word that follows it. The word want is translated from the Hebrew chacer {khaw-sare'}[strongs numer 2637] and means to lack, be without, decrease, be lacking, have a need.

The net effect of combining these two words is to state that there will absolutely not be any form of lack or shortage of something that is needed. The negation is every bit as absolute as is the eternal self existing timeless nature of God is in the word hayah earlier in the verse.

This first verse could easily be more completely translated:

The Self-Existant eternal Lord who is the ruler of all is my friend. Because He cares for me the way a good shepherd does his sheep, it is not possible for me to lack or fall short of anything. He liberally supplies everything I need.