How To Find Contentment Psalm 23


{My Sunday Sermon Notes. Sermon by Pastor Bryan Clark of Lincoln Berean Church. July 20,2014}

Contentment is one of the best ways to live in the moment. Being content does not mean to stop dreaming or changing. That would be to stop living. Contentment is about wanting what I already have. What we already have is today. Don’t be focused on “what- if’s.

The Lord Is My Shepherd Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

3  He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff,
  they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
 in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
 my cup overflows.

6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
 all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Written by David under duress. Life was hard. This was probably when David was fleeing from Absalom with Israeli army after him.

David was a Shepherd.  Shepherding was at the low-end of the totem pole back in his day, usually the youngest boy would get the job.  The Bible also speaks of the lowly shepherds who beheld the angels announcing the birth of Christ.

But..God also refers to Himself as Shepherd, and the Bible uses Shepherd imagery for the most powerful rulers of the day.  They would Shepherd and would provide and protect.


 The LORD Is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

I shall not want for anything. I do not lack for anything. Because the LORD is my Shepard.

When the LORD is spelled in all caps, it meaning is Yahweh–it is a personal God.


 He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Rest..green pastures. Sheep can be a bit  dumb and don’t lie down easily. They are nervous creatures. It took a skilled Shepherd to find green and find pastures back in those times. It was a rocky, brown terrain.

For sheep to rest, sheep had to be free from fear. From enemies, from each other. From irritations..bugs flies. Well fed.

When all these things were met, then they could lie down.

Our rest is dependent on the doctrine of grace. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. ” (Matthew 11:28 )

If our significance, belonging, & identity rooted in God…then we are able to rest in midst if storm. Notice it is not the absence of storms, but the ability to rest in it.


He leads me beside still waters.

Quiet water. Refreshment. Resting in the finished work on the cross. Here we find refreshment for our dry and weary soul. When you mess up, run to the ‘light room of grace’ for refreshment.


He restores my soul

Translated –he revives my life. Sheep are always at risk to themself. Sheep ‘cast down’ –lie on side in crevasses,  hooves out to the side, they don’t touch ground– they then panic then roll with hooves facing up. They stay there and die within a day. This is why Shepherd counts sheep. When sheep is found, blood has run out if extremities. The Shepherd must slowly move them and allow blood to flow back. It took a skilled, patient and gentle Shepherd, to slowly massage life back into the sheep.

We get ourselves in trouble. We mess up. We go missing. He finds us to restore and turn us in the right direction. To revive us and get up back in the game of life. God is in the business is restoration. No fail is final. No failure is ever final!

Like sheep we have all gone astray. He leads us back to the right path. He gives us guidance and direction.


I will fear no evil. For you are with me….even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death.

There is risk of dying. I have to I go through the valley and the good Shepherd goes with me.

In winter sheep stay down in the lowlands. When the promise of spring and summer come, they moved sheep from the valley through dry stream beds and took the flock up the mountain. The stream bed was filled with dangers and predators.  It was a dark, hidden place. The valley of the shadow of death. The Shepherd is with them. He walks with them. He stays and will get them through. He is their protection.

Whatever in your life feels scary or uncertain, know the good Shepherd goes with you.


Your rod and staff comfort me.

The Shepherd has the necessary tools to get the job done. Rod symbolizes power. It was for striking and for throwing. It would protect against predators and even used to throw towards sheep to discipline them to stay on the path away from danger. The staff was used to grab and rescue.


…prepare a table and anoint my head with oil.

There are 2 different camps to what this means. It could continue the imagery of sheep. Oil used for wounds and the cup would be used for water to give to sheep.


It could be as a host for David.  The imagery could show him finding someone to host him, bring him in, let him sit at their table.  They would anoint him with oil…not a ceremonial act but the word in this passage is a luxury word.  The oil would be used to comfort and soothe.

We are provided with what we need, in abundance, in the hour of need.

Tragedies & storms difficulties–this is why we need Shepherd.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house if the Lord forever.

The Shepherd is always good, loving and kind. This is the character if the Shepherd. Some days this feels abundantly clear and other days it is all by faith.

A great analogy:   the premature, sick baby hooked to all those tubes and wires does not understand the pain, discomfort or why. The parent knows why –because it will give the baby life. The baby cannot understand. Same with us and God. When pain occurs, was cry out and ask why?  He says to trust him and his good character and His unconditional love for us. Because his is God and I am not, I cannot see.

What does all this have to do with contentment?
We are always so focused in all the ‘what about’s’. ‘What- about’ this and ‘what- about’ that? Don’t be so occupied in the ‘what-about’s’. You could be so caught up in ‘someday’ that you miss the moments today.

We don’t know if we have tomorrow. But we do know we have today.


The Lord is my Shepard I shall not want.

This allows me to think about today. I must not miss these moments today, for I will never get them back.

Rest in the Good Shepherd.


I Shall Not Want — Audrey Assad

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God


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  • Lorna W.
    July 21, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Thank you for sharing Amy. It was such a great way to start my week, to be reminded that “God is in the business of restoration” and always there for us.

  • Amy T.
    July 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    This was a very timely post for me. Thank you for taking the time to meditate on these words. I’m not a church’y person and don’t read the bible but your passages and meditations are interesting and I was raised by a Christian mother (went to church but stopped going when we moved when I was only aged 7). I attended church off and on after that and found it great comfort but not always comfortable with the organization, just with the messages at times. I’m glad to gain the message from your blog today and just the exact right message that I needed at time when I’ve been wanting more than I really can have in a “storm” of troubled times in my own home and likely within myself which is being projected into my home. I am really comforted by this passage and your ideas. I have always been comforted by water and love the part about being lead beside still waters. I’m ok with moving waters too! lol. I spend some time outdoors as my connection to God and spirituality and have places that this passage brought to mind in various visits. I’d love to send you photos that this reminded me of sometime. It’s been a very “wanting” and stormy week so I could stand to look at them myself. Have a great week and thanks again for keeping your blog. You are always an inspiration.

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