Here we see David say that he had all that he needed (v. 1). Although there is no settled view as to what David’s situation was when he wrote Psalm 23, the truth of the passage remains applicable and steadfast despite the bleakness of his circumstances. Consider, for instance, one possible context for the writing of this psalm: David on the run from his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15–16). One of the last things we would expect to hear him say was that all of his needs were met. Instead, we would expect a psalm seeking to understand where God was during this time and when He would step in and provide David with a need that he lacked: peace with his own family.
But in this scenario we see the importance of distinguishing our needs from our desires. God has promised to supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19), but not all our desires. Peace with family was one of David’s desires, a noble one even, but it was not a need. And sometimes God will not give us our desires even if they seem to be good desires and even if we have the best of intentions for wanting them. The reason is simple: because our desires don’t always align with God’s will. Our desires, as good as they may seem, are not always what will bring God glory, nor will they always bring us good. And so, God, our loving Father, will withhold these desires from us when needed.
However, there is a time when God has promised to give us our desires. Here is what David wrote in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Notice that this is not an unqualified promise. There is a condition, and it is an important one. Only when we delight in the Lord, when the gospel is in the process of transforming us and we are fixated on following God’s will and seeking His glory, only then will our heart’s desires be given. Why? Because then our desires will align with God’s.
What are some of the desires of your heart? Are they in line with seeking God’s will and bringing Him glory?