As I write this, my husband and I are anchored on the Bay in our sailboat. The name of the boat is Makarios. In Kaine Greek, the name means, “supremely blest,” or well off. It is the nature of a believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Sitting here, on my boat, I am Makarios. Not many people have the opportunity to spend Sunday afternoons just floating, or sailing on the water in quiet calm. I am reminded of Jesus, who sailed to get away from the business of life, to be with the Father. In good weather, and when tourist season is not in full swing, you can hear only the gulls, and the lapping of the water against the boat. You can imagine how the apostles felt when they cast off on the water with Jesus in tow. They were Makarios! Just like the Sea of Galilee, squalls or quick storms can suddenly appear, and things are not the same. In fact, they are far from tranquil. You have to take cover quickly, or you could be tossed into the water with potentially dire consequences. Far from home, with no friends around, that describes David’s situation when he wrote Psalm 23.
David was far from home and being chased by King Saul. He was a small vessel at sea in a serious situation; yet he was not afraid. He knew that the person he trusted for his very life would be at the helm, protecting him.
When God found David, he had been a Shepherd. It was his job to protect the sheep from enemies. He was well aware that shepherding was not lolling around a bucolic environment. David knew that there were predators he had to deal with. It is in this spirit that David trusts the “Good Shepherd,” who watches over his people, and is always with them. David was surely Makarios. He strongly acknowledged God’s protection in his life, and for this reason he could say, “I shall not want.” What does it mean to, “Not want”? Let’s look at how David describes it.
In verse 1, the fact that David acknowledges God as his Shepherd shows that David is trusting God for his life. Even if he dies, David is confident in God’s goodness. In verse 2, David tells us that God provides “green pastures,” or a comfortable environment for him, and within that environment, God provides peace. Shepherds know that green pastures and quiet waters are important to sheep because they frighten easily. Humans also frighten easily.
In verse 3, David tells us that after calming us down in green pasture, God “restores our souls.” This means that he turns the creatures he made and loves, back to Himself to realign our thinking in order to give us a better perspective. As we yield to Him, he leads us. He sets our path straight, so we do not stumble. God does this for his name’s sake or because of the nature of His character as we have spoken about in the last few chapters. What a God we have, huh?
In verse 4, the going gets rough. As David walks through dark and terrible places in his life, or the Valley of the Shadow of Death, God is leading the way. His way leads David through to a better place. Because of this, David says he “fears no evil,” meaning that he will not anticipate any wrong to be done to him. He will have an expectation that God will always help him, which is demonstrated in several ways. God will protect him with His rod by keeping him from predators and God uses His staff to protect David from himself.
In verse 5, God will supply all of David’s needs, even in the presence of David’s enemies. God is symbolically responding to David’s worship by anointing David’s head with oil. David’s worship cup “runs over.” Consequently, by trusting and following his God, David will constantly be filled with the joy of the Lord.
Verse six sums up what “Makarios” means. David says, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” David is saying that when he is indwelled with God’s spirit. He will experience what believers today call “the fruit of the spirit.” He is most certainly makarios.