Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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Ps 23:1
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.   (NAS)

I rarely have a dream I can remember. A few months ago I awoke from a dream. I was preaching here on the first verse of Psalm 23. (Some of you might say that was not a dream but a nightmare.) The three points were very clear. 1) The Lord Is 2) The Lord Is My Shepherd 3) I Shall Not Want. Today I am preaching from that verse. Please follow with an open heart, mind and Bible as I develop these three timeless truths.

I.   TRUTH ONE: The Lord . . IS,   v 1 a

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

David is the writer of this Psalm and many think he wrote it in his later years. It reflects on his days as a shepherd. He remembers how he loved his sheep and how he cared for them. David then remembers how the Lord has been a shepherd to him. 'The Lord is my shepherd' is all one phrase, but we find a timeless truth in the first 3 words, "The Lord Is."

The first four words of the Bible are, "In the beginning God." It is a declaration of the beginning and of God. David's first 3 words in this Psalm declare 'The Lord is.' In our so-called 'enlightened' world today the humanist wants to do away with the thought of God and say man is the highest being. In my opinion that accounts for the mess we are in today.

The world needs to acknowledge "The Lord Is." We need to understand we have a creator who knows more about us than we will ever know about ourselves. We need to acknowledge Him and yield to Him. Notice the following observation.

Did you know that man can not make a computer capable of storing the facts your brain knows unless the computer was the size of the entire earth? "The Lord Is."

The Earth is just the right diameter. "The Lord Is."

The Earth is just the right distance from the sun. "The Lord Is."

The Moon is just the right distance from the earth to make life possible here. "The Lord Is."

The crust of the Earth is just the right depth to support life. "The Lord Is."

The earth has a Hydrological cycle providing water. "The Lord Is."

The earth has an Oxygen cycle providing plant and animal life what they need. "The Lord Is."

The Hebrew term translated here LORD is the word YHWH. Since the Hebrew doesn't have vowels, we have a very difficult time speaking it, but YHWH would be pronounced something like YAHWEH. The original English translation incorrectly called this word JEHOVAH. The claim of the people who call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses that God must be called Jehovah, is a falsehood.

This term YAHWEH means all of the following;

Lord The one who causes to be.

Lord The one who was, is, and shall be

Lord The Covenant God of Israel.

Lord The Provider, Healer, Righteous One and Sanctifier

Lord He is present

Lord He is our banner

Lord He is our peace.

You must come to the conclusion, "The Lord Is." You must acknowledge His Lordship in Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son.

The Lord IS, but what is He to you? Is He your Lord? Have you repented of sin and yielded your will to His? The Lord Is, but what does He want to be in your life? He can be to you all of the attributes mentioned previously.

Peter Cartwright, the famous circuit rider and Lincoln's opponent for election to Congress, once stayed overnight with a skeptical physician who claimed that the only reality was what the senses discerned. The physician said to him, "Did you ever see religion?" "No." Did you ever hear religion?" "No." "Did you ever smell religion?" "No." "Did you ever taste religion?" "No." "Did you ever feel religion?" "Yes."

"Now then," said the doctor with apparent triumph, "I have proved, beyond a doubt, by four respectable witnesses, that religion is not seen, heard, smelled or tasted; and but one lone, solitary witness, namely feeling, has testified that it is an experimental fact. The weight of the evidence is overpowering, sir, and you must give it up."

Cartwright then said to the doctor, "In pretending to relieve pain in the human system, you have been playing the hypocrite, and practicing a most wretched fraud on the gullibility of the people."

To the doctor's indignant protest Cartwright said, "Well, sir, did you ever see pain?" "No sir." Did you ever hear a pain?" "No, sir." "Did you ever smell a pain?" "No sir." "Did you ever taste a pain?" "No sir." "Did you ever feel a pain?" "Certainly I did, sir."

"Then," said Cartwright, "four respectable witnesses have testified that there is no such thing as pain in the human system."

Taking advantage of the doctor's discomfiture, Cartwright fell on his knees and commenced to pray. In a short time the great depths of the man's heart were broken up; and, after a brief period of anxiety and spiritual agony, he found the Lord with a shout of triumph. His slaves he sent at his own expense to Liberia; and he himself became a preacher of the gospel, with many seals to his ministry.


Do you believe God IS? Most of you do sometimes perhaps question His existence. Your questioning comes because you want to see Him like you see a horse or an automobile. Your questioning comes because you have not been looking where the results of His works have been. If you really want to know He Is, He will reveal Himself to you like He did to David.

It is a timeless truth. "The Lord Is." Now notice Truth Two.


The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

If we liken mankind to sheep we can say we all need a shepherd. Some say Christianity is a crutch and God is for the weak. I say no one is wiser than when they recognize their limitation and their need to worship their creator. Mankind needs a shepherd to lead, feed and guide them spiritually. If this dimension of life is neglected, it will affect all of life.

David said, "The Lord is my shepherd." You must first acknowledge He Is and that He Is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Having acknowledged Him, follow Him as your shepherd. A shepherd is supposed to lead the sheep. Sheep are supposed to follow. In fact, sheep are known for their willingness to follow. It is in following that there is no want.

Notice in the rest of this Psalm what the shepherd does for the sheep.

v. 2 He makes them to lie down, He leads them

v. 3 He restores, He guides

v. 4 He is with them, He comforts them.

v. 5 He provides

v. 6 He is kind.

Do you need any of these blessings in your life? They are available through the shepherding of our Lord.

The Athenians used to have a race in which the runners carried lighted torches. The victors who were crowned were those who arrived at the goal with their torches still burning. May you come to your goal, reach the end, with your torch still burning! The highest tribute, the highest reward, you can ever receive is to have said of you. "He was a true, a consistent, man clear down to the end."


When the Lord is your shepherd, you can run and not be weary. He restores your soul.

He makes you to lie down. You can run and the torch of your life will have an eternal flame. Because He Is, and He Is your shepherd. Now notice Truth number three.


The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

As David looked over his life, he made the observation that God had provided ever want.

The word want is in line with needs, not desires. The Hebrew term could be translated "lack." It would therefore read "I shall not lack." That is the idea of the word want. It is, I shall not want for any necessity.

Just suppose you had been without all of life's necessities for several days. What would you list first as your wants? Water, food, shelter-would be listed at the top. Suppose you had not slept for 2 days? What would you want most? You see, the point is, wants can be related to needs and not desires. David had his wants met by the Lord.

In 1973 our soldiers were released from Vietnam prisons. Over and over again you heard a testimony of these soldiers having complied chapters and verses of the Bible. They would read and re-read this makeshift Bible. Their greatest want for reading material was for the Word of God.


What is your want today? The Lord is capable of meeting your wants. He will either meet those wants or change them. But you must acknowledge HE IS. You must yield your life to Him so He can be your shepherd. Then He will meet your wants.


The Lord IS Truth One

The Lord Is My Shepherd Truth Two

I Shall Not Want Truth Three

Today we sing a hymn of decision. You are invited to publically acknowledge Jesus as Lord in your life. Come forward on the very first stanza.