Part 2Vicky Moots
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Psalm 23:2a: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Sheep don’t lie down until they are full and satisfied, and then they lie down to chew the cud. So how does the shepherd cause them to lie down? Ezek. 34:15 states, “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down…”. That means He brings them into a rich, green pasture so that they eat their fill and have to lie down. Have you ever eaten so much at a good dinner that you just wanted to go lie back in a recliner and rest and let the food digest while you savored the meal? Our Shepherd satisfies our hunger with even more than we need, not just the bare necessities. The more we hunger, the more He provides. Jesus said in Matt. 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” He leads us to green pastures where we can eat our fill. Green speaks of resurrection, such as we see every spring when the brown grass and the barren trees turn green. Spiritually it represents the resurrection life of Christ who is the Living Word. We feed upon the Word and then lie down and rest in Him and meditate on His goodness as we slowly chew and digest what we have read. We rest in the resurrected life of Christ who gave His life for us. His life satisfies the hunger in our soul and it is the only thing that can. Many people today are trying to satisfy their hunger with the things of the world, but they are only temporary. The more they get, the more they want, and they are never satisfied enough to lie down and rest. Only by knowing the Lord as their Savior will they experience that kind of satisfaction.
Another thing that is important to sheep before they will lie down to rest is that they must feel safe from predators. If they are afraid or feel insecure, they will not lie down. The shepherd’s voice is calming to them if they are restless. Our Shepherd’s voice, His Word, also assures us, as His sheep, that we are safe and secure in Him. He speaks calm words of assurance to us in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear my voice [the Word], and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” How much more secure can we get than that?
If you are feeling insecure and unable to rest, then you need to open your Bible and read God’s Word. Read it out loud so you can hear the Shepherd’s voice speaking to you to let it calm your fears. The preceding verse should give you blessed assurance that you are safe in the Shepherd’s hand, no matter what or who may come against you. Are you listening to His voice? Or are you listening to your own feelings? Or what others tell you? Take time to stop and hear the Shepherd’s voice and then enter into His rest and lie down. His calming voice also speaks to us in Luke 12:32: “Fear not little flock…;” and also, in Matt. 14:27: “…Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
Hebrews 4:9-10 speaks to us farther about resting in the Lord: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” What does that mean? God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day He rested, because the work was finished. When Jesus died on the cross, He cried out, “It is finished.” The work of salvation was completed. There was no work left for us to do to earn salvation. Nothing that we do could ever add to a work that was already perfect and complete. He makes us to lie down to rest in the finished work of Calvary, to cease from our own works. Paul declared in Gal. 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” If this is true, then it means that I can rest from my own works, because it is no longer I, but Christ my resurrected, living Shepherd, who lives in me and has done the work for me. Therefore, I choose to believe it and to lie down in His green pastures and be content and secure.
Psalm 23:2b: “he leadeth me beside the still waters.” He led us into green pastures to satisfy our hunger and to cause us to lie down. Now He leads us by still waters to quench our thirst. “Still waters” means “waters of quietness,” cool and refreshing. Sheep will not drink out of rushing, turbulent water that splashes up on their face. Likewise, we need our quiet times to drink in the Word of God to be refreshed. Today it seems like we are always in a rush to get things done. Sometimes God allows circumstances in our lives that cause us to have to slow down in order that we have time for His Word. We may even find ourselves experiencing some things that are like what Job went through, such as loss of health, loss of a loved one, loss of possessions or of a good paying job before we are willing to slow down and take the time to rehydrate ourselves with Living Water and to listen to His still, small voice.
The still waters of quietness are not stagnant but quietly flowing. He does not lead us by a waterfall to show us His majesty, but by quiet waters to provide us His peace. These waters are not muddy or murky because they are not troubled waters. They are pure, clean and refreshing, and we are invited to drink of them in Isa. 55:1: “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters…”.
Our Shepherd leads us to the waters, but we must be willing to drink. Jesus offered a drink of the Living Water to the Samaritan woman at the well to quench the thirst in her life that she had been unable to satisfy. When He revealed to her that He, Himself, was that Water of Life, she accepted His offer and left her waterpot and went to tell others that she had found the Christ, the Messiah.
Jesus offers Living Water to us today, to all who are thirsty: “…If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37). These are the waters of salvation and of the Holy Spirit, as well as the water of the Word, through which He provides us His peace that passes understanding. It is during these times, as we drink in the waters of quietness, that He is able to restore our soul.
To be continued