Temptation lies. Always. It is in believing its lies that we succumb. And 3 of Temptation’s most effective lies are undone in this most familiar of all the Psalms. In it, the Good Shepherd truly shepherds our souls.
Note first, that Temptation begins by asserting that whatever it is it is proposing – is something we NEED. “YOU NEED THIS.” The explanation as to why we “need” it, is never given. It is left for us to supply. It is implied that we’ll be missing something essential however if we do not give in to the desire. We’ll be less whole, less human, less of a man or woman – somehow less than we ought to be without it. And to this lie, Christ our Lord is proposed to us as our Shepherd – and because He cares for us, we “shall not want.” If He hasn’t supplied it, we do not “need” it. We won’t be bereft of something essential. He knows our true needs, and knows them better than we do – and especially more than Temptation does. NO! Christ is our Shepherd – He will not let us lack for anything truly essential.
The second lie Temptation uses to reason us into sin is: “Without it you’ll die.” The loss quotient is ramped up considerably. If I don’t have X, I’ll simply die! Life won’t be worth living! It will do true, irreparable harm to me as a human being. I’ll suffer a mortal wound. LIE! Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of “death” – we need not fear any evil. Christ is with us! His rod and staff guide and comfort and keep us from the real danger. Temptation has lied again. I won’t die, you won’t die if this particular desire isn’t met. We once again cast ourselves back on to trusting the Good Shepherd who has pledged His very life unto death – to keep us from harm.
The third lie seems ludicrous on the surface – and yet in the moment of temptation, it is most powerful. “You’ll miss out on what is best and be left lacking. And, everyone else will know it.” Temptation moves us with this argument with all of its subtleties. But once again – it is a lie. The truth is, Christ prepares a table – a feast – for us, right there in the presence of our enemies. If only we’ll open our eyes to see it. If only we’ll stop to satisfy our hunger on what He HAS provided, we’ll find no appetite for what He hasn’t. No, maybe our favorite “dessert” won’t be there – but what He has set out will be delicious, and healthful and satisfying. In fact, our cup is SO full, it runs over. But Temptation has convinced us the cup is empty – and will never be filled unless we pursue that which the Shepherd has warned us will kill us.
Trust the Shepherd beloved. He knows us and loves us best. In staying by His side, surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. And at last, we will dwell in His own house – forever.