Psalm 23. Shepherds and Genies.

The third in a series on Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

If you had your very own genie in a lamp, what would you wish for?  (Ok, so after you’ve wished for unlimited wishes, what would you wish for then?!)


We all have things that we want.  We might even become a bit obsessed by them.  Or we might just work very hard to achieve them.  I know someone who saved for years in order to buy the car that he wanted.  A genie would be useful in cutting out the work bit.  Your wish is granted in a flash.

But we also all have things that we need.  And perhaps this would be a better way of using our wishes.  Maybe we’d wish for healing, or hope.  Maybe it’s an answer that we’re looking for, or a solution.  Maybe the genie could meet our perceived needs, rather than our greatest desires.

Some years ago, our elder son’s class were writing their wishes on a star in the run up to Christmas.  To our surprise, he wrote, ‘I wish for nothing’.  So that’s exactly what we got him.  I have a niggling suspicion that ‘I wish for nothing’ was simply the easiest response to give (requiring no thought), rather than a expression of full contentment with his lot in life.

But I wonder if perhaps this Psalm requires a change in perspective.  We’re sometimes guilty of treating God as the ultimate Genie (albeit one who’s escaped from his lamp).  He has ultimate power, and loves us very much, so let’s ask Him for everything we want.  But I’m not sure this is quite what the Psalmist is driving at.  I think the Psalmist is more likely to be saying that, with The Lord as our Shepherd, we can be assured that He will supply everything we need.  He’s not the kind of shepherd who responds to our every whim, showering us with gifts we don’t need.  But our perspective must be that we have what we need, even when it’s less than we want.  And our greatest need, of course, is a restored relationship with the shepherd, and we can rest assured that that has been given to us by the shepherd who loves us deeply.  This Psalm makes that abundantly clear.

If you had your own Genie, what would you ask for?

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