Probably the most well-known of all the Psalms is Psalm 23 that speaks of God being our Shepherd. It was written by King David, who himself had cared for his family’s sheep in the early part of his life. It is hardly surprising then, that with his knowledge of the bond between a shepherd and his sheep, the verses of this psalm contain rich pictures of God’s love and care for those who belong to Him.
The psalm begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Our shepherd is not just any shepherd. He is the Lord. In John 10, Jesus identifies Himself as that Good Shepherd, the one who lays down His life for the sheep. When we begin to follow Christ, there is a peace that comes upon us because of who He is and what He has done. We will lack nothing because He is the one devoted to our care. There can be no greater Shepherd, no more caring protector or provider.
David then says: “He makes (us) lie down in green pastures”.
Some people focus on the word “makes.” They rightly point out that often God allows circumstances in our lives that force us to slow down and spend more time resting in God’s presence. While that is often true, I think there is another point to this verse. Sheep are skittish animals—they are not easily made to feel at peace. And sheep that are not at peace cannot eat or rest. The part of this verse that I like to emphasize is the fact that He brings us to green pastures. To me, this speaks of His abundant provision. He leads us to places of nourishment where all our needs are met according to His riches in Christ Jesus, despite our circumstances. I don’t see this verse in a negative light at all, as if He pushes us to the ground to make us rest. No! Rather I see that because we know He can be trusted, we can be at peace, knowing that we will lack nothing that we need.
David also says that He will lead us to the banks of quiet waters in order to refresh our souls. There is a calm about this scene too. The stream is gentle and quiet; but there’s more to this picture than you might think. No good shepherd would take his animals to turbulent water for a drink. Can you imagine the danger to the sheep if the stream was forcefully rushing by? If they were to fall on their backs they could not right themselves. If they stumbled into fast-running, choppy water they might easily drown as their fleece became heavy with the water it absorbed. A Good Shepherd would not expose his sheep to such danger. He would never put them at such risk. Our Good Shepherd protects us even in the way He provides for us.
Like skittish, troublesome sheep we often find ourselves in need of peace and rest. You might not like the place He has you in right now, but know this: God has promised to provide for you in that very place. He will bring you to peace in His presence. There is green pasture and there is quiet water to drink if you will turn to Him and follow in His steps!
Blessings on your day!