A Study on Psalm 23 – #3
Verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”
Verse two of David’s psalm continues on from the thought of verse one where David speaks of the LORD supplying all his needs. Verse two speaks of full provision. Notice at this point that David is thinking of how the human shepherd would ideally want to meet his flocks need (never lack) in the best possible of worlds. While David’s ideal will not always possible in human terms it is in fact possible when it comes to our heavenly Shepherd meeting our spiritual needs. Here there is no lack, no drought causing lack of drinking water and pasture. Often in Bible lands providing for the sheep was a real struggle but God is never at a loss as to how to provide for us. With God we never have to be spiritually deprived or go without because of his inability to supply our needs. Remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4, those who drink the water he supplies will never thirst again. Our Shepherd supplies all we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him (relationship through the Holy Spirit), 2 Peter 1:3.
Notice how the shepherd is in control, he makes me lie down, he leads me to water. Jesus leads us on our spiritual pilgrimage through this earthly life, as the Psalmist says we must have him always before us. We need to constantly look to him for example and direction, Hebrews 12:2.
When do sheep lie down? In this context they lie down when they have been fed and are satisfied. The shepherd has led us to food, we have eaten our fill, now it is time to rest; we lie down. Is this our experience do we take time to follow Jesus to food, do we feed on his provision and then rest, satisfied and secure in his presence. For the shepherd and his flock what we are reading of here is a daily experience. The leading out of the flock to provision and then returning at the end of the day to the fold. In David’s words we receive God’s promise of daily provision for our spiritual needs. Turn aside awhile with him, eat, drink and be refreshed.
Quiet waters speak of two things, water that is still, literally not disturbed but quiet and also of undisturbed personal rest. Sheep are easily frightened and because of this they do not like to drink from moving water so the shepherd brings them to still water. Often in the context of the Holy Land this will mean coming to a well and drawing water from the well and placing it in a trough from which the sheep then drink. The shepherd walks the sheep to the well and then labours to quench their thirst. He does for them what they cannot do for themselves, they can’t draw the water. When we come to God in communion and fellowship the provision is all of him, we simply have to be present and enjoy the nourishment and refreshing he provides.
Listen to the words of Isaiah 32:18, ‘My people will live in peaceful dwelling-places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.’ The Hebrew word translated ‘rest’ in Isaiah is the same word translated in Psalm 23:2 by ‘quiet’. Our Shepherd longs to lead us to undisturbed places of rest where we can drink our fill of the Spirit and be refreshed.
Can I suggest that for you and I the Bible is our food (green pastures) and the Holy Spirit is our drink (quiet waters). God provides all our needs so that we lack nothing. Our most important needs are those of our soul. As obedient sheep let us follow the shepherd to the spiritual food and drink that he has provided for us, not just today but daily. Let us feed on him and lie down satisfied and at peace. Amen