I was listening to someone read the scriptures today and I saw something I had never seen before. Perhaps many of you were well aware of it, but for me, I have never read this passage this way. Instead I always thought it was unusual.
The Scripture is Psalm 23:1-3. In English it reads:
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads be beside still water.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Now don’t laugh, cause there are probably a fair number of us who have read this scripture the same way and it is because of our comprehension of the English Language and not seeing the meaning behind the Hebrew words used.
When I was young, my mum used to make me lunch. She used to make some of the best tasting tomato, Onion toasted sandwiches with butter salt and pepper. Yummy. Well Mum used to ask me “Would you like a toasted tomato and onion sandwich?” My mum was simply seeing if I wanted one.
Now when I read the scripture “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want“, I understood it the same way! I always thought…..
… you know that is weird. David says that the Lord is his shepherd.. guiding him around, feeding him, watching over him… but David doesn’t want Him??….
I honestly believe I was shown this today for a reason. Sometimes in our life, we hear things which have two or more meanings when used with certain words. They call these homographs (spelled the same but may sound different – with different meanings) or homonyms (spelt the same and sound the same but have different meanings). The english language has a lot of them in it.
Let’s take a look at that scripture in Hebrew, since this was the original language it was written in. We are going to be using English letters however to approximate the sounds the the words since not many people reading this article may be able to read Hebrew.
I made each word clickable above so you can go and look them up if you would like to. The first word is “Yahuwah”. Some pronounce it Yahweh as well. It means:
In Hebrew you read from right to left. It is made up of four letters. Yod Hey Vav Hey. You may also see it written as YHWH. Interestingly, it is not the word Lord as it has been written in English in this scripture. The word for Lord in Hebrew is “Adonai“.
The next word is “ra-ah”. It means to pasture, to tend to, to graze or feed, to shepherd. This is from the strongs concordance:
See in English we need to add in specific words to make the sentence make sense in English. There is no words in this scripture that are directly translated into “is” and. “my”. These words in English come from the context of the words around it.
So now we finally make it to the last sentence. haser lo haser. Immediately you will notice the the same Hebrew words are being used for the English “I shall” and “want”.
The word “lo” is being translated as “not” which in this context is good.
Let’s look at the word “haser” to see what is actually meant by this phrase.
So the phrase “I shall not want” would be better understood in English,
“I shall not lack” or
“I will never be in need”,
which is definitely different from the understanding “I don’t want him”.
I already understood this. Why are you highlighting it??
So our understanding of what the scripture says cannot conflict. We cannot Love Him and not want Him. These two do not agree. So what do we do when we look at something in the scriptures and we find two seemingly different views?
Things I have found so far in my studies which may also assist you:
1. Look it up in Hebrew and see what the word meanings are as we have here.
Just because you understand English, does not mean we understand His word. Too many rimes have I looked at a Hebrew word only to find that the meaning of the hebrew word is different to the meaning of the English word, which leads us astray. Scriptures is not just a bunch of words. It requires comprehension of those words.
2. Check to see if the English words used actually exist in the passage or if the interpreter may have added them based upon their understanding.
Just because you are seeing a word there in English, does not mean that the word is there in Hebrew. Many times the interpreter has added words to make sense of the traslation in English. However there are examples in scripture where this actually causes us to understand the scripture the wrong way. A great example of this is found in most scriptures in Daniel 12:11 where we read “
11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
The word “sacrifice” is not actually found in that scripture. There is a lot more to say about that scripture, but this is not the place. You can find it here if you are interested and scroll to where it says “So what does Daniel show us about this Abomination of Desolation?”
3. Just because two views seem to “butt heads” does not mean that one view is wrong and the other view is correct.
So try this experiment with some friends to see what I mean. One person is going to be drawing a cylinder on three seperate pieces of paper. One drawing will be side on. It will show a rectangle. The next drawing will be from either end. It will be a circle. The third drawing will be from an angle that sees BOTH views.
Show one person the image of the rectangle. Then show the other the image of the circle. Tell them both they are both looking at the same image. Then ask them what they saw. No doubt, a disagreement will arise in the image that they saw.
This is what occurs many times in scripture. It is also one of the reasons we need to have patience as we come to learn that we were both looking at the same object but the full picture was not seen. Then show them both the image of the cylinder.
I pray that this assists others as we walk on the road to Him. Our journey is our own. We each will walk slightly different paths and we need to remember that none of us is perfect and remain humble.