Fifth, we shall not lack provision. The Twenty-third Psalm says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows" (v. 5). Keller sees this as the shepherd’s preparation of the high table lands or mesas where the sheep graze in summer. A good shepherd will prepare these before the sheep arrive, removing physical hazards, destroying poisonous plants and driving predators away. Keller also has a chapter in which he describes how ancient shepherds used a mixture of olive oil, sulphur, and spices to protect their sheep from insects and promote healing from infectious skin diseases.

What is it that those in the care of the Good Shepherd shall not lack? First, we shall not lack rest. This is because "he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters" (v. 2). Phillip Keller is a pastor and author, who for eight years was himself a shepherd. Out of that experience he has written a helpful book entitled A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Sheep do not lie down easily, Keller says.

The Twenty-third Psalm is possibly the best-loved chapter in the entire Bible. Millions of people have memorized this Psalm. The Psalm is a masterpiece throughout, but it can stand almost on this single line: "The Lord is my shepherd." What an amazing juxtaposition of ideas! The word "Lord" is the English translation of the great Old Testament personal name for God, first disclosed to Moses at the burning bush. The name literally means "I am who I am." It is an inexhaustible name, like its bearer.

The Lord Jesus Christ was not a creature, to be sure, but nevertheless he took it upon himself to prove that God's will was indeed good, pleasing, and perfect, even though it involved the pain of the cross, which in itself hardly seemed good, pleasing, or acceptable. In the garden Jesus prayed that the cross might be taken from him, adding, "Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39).

We need to prove by our experience that the will of God is indeed what Paul tells us it is, that is, that it is good, pleasing, and perfect. We need to check it out. Moreover, it is by checking it out that we will begin to find out what it actually is. This is the exact opposite of our normal way of thinking. Usually we want God to tell us what his will for us is, and after that we want to be able to decide whether it is good, pleasing, or perfect, and thus whether or not we want to do it. Romans 12:2 tells us that we have to start living in God’s way and only as we do that will we begin to know it in its fullness and learn how good it really is.