Grace For The Journey
All sheep need a shepherd – a sheep without a shepherd is lost and exposed to constant dangers. Sheep have no sense of direction. They have no ability to care for themselves. They are easily frightened by the slightest disturbance. They are constantly dependent upon a shepherd to meet their every need.
Similarly, we are like sheep in need of a shepherd, the LORD Himself. We need Him to make us lie down in green pastures. Otherwise, we will be restless and empty. We need Him to lead us beside still waters. If not, we will be stressed and weary.
In this psalm, David explains what God is doing in his life. He writes in verse 2, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” This psalm is written in Hebrew poetry and uses a literary device known as parallelism.
This is where the two lines of a verse
Are to be understood as
Containing one unit of thought.
The second line builds on the first line.
Each of these two lines reveals a key aspect of what God is presently doing in David’s life – and in ours.
1) “He Makes Me Lie Down.”
David says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (verse 2). He confesses that in the midst of the hectic pace of life, with all its pressures and stresses, God causes him to lie down in green pastures – the choicest place where sheep can graze. But God must make him do so.
These “green pastures” can be understood to represent the Word of God. Much like grass, the Scripture is full of life-giving nutrients and nourishment for our soul. The lush meadows of biblical truth are always vibrant, never withered or wilted. It is this spiritual food that gives David the inward strength and satisfaction that he needs.
How is God making David to lie down in green pastures? The LORD is accomplishing this with two forces in his life – one is internal and the other is external.
He Creates My Hunger
First . . .
Internally within David’s soul,
God is creating a spiritual hunger
For the sustenance of His Word.
Only God can generate an appetite for this soul food. Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” We must feed on the Scripture daily. Do you sense this hunger within you for the Word of God?
How sweet is the Scripture to the believer. Concerning the precepts of the LORD, David writes in Psalms 19:10, “They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” He can never have enough of the Word. Likewise, God puts the Holy Spirit within all believers in the new birth, who “causes” us to crave and keep His statutes. The Bible tells us of this truth in Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart an put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put MM spirit within and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
If you are a true believer – if you are one of His sheep – then God is presently at work in your life, weaning you off of the bare husks of this world. He is causing you to lie down in the green pastures of His Word.
David describes these “green pastures” in the plural. It is not just one green pasture in which He leads this flock. Instead, it is a vast expanse of many pastures. Such an abundant supply pictures the sufficiency of the Word of God to meet our spiritual needs. There is the rich reservoir of truth contained in Scripture that is able to satisfy every hunger within us. There is far more food in these lush grasslands than His sheep will be able to consume.
He Feeds Me His Word
Second . . .
There are external forces that God uses
To cause us to lie down in green pastures.
These are divinely-ordained times of trials and tribulations that He uses to humble us and bring us to our knees. In such weakening times, we turn to His word and cling to His promises to sustain us. These storms of life force us to lie down in the green pastures of His Word.
In Psalm 119:28, the psalmist testifies how his trials were causing him to cling to the law of the Lord. “My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to your Word.” Only the Word could sustain him and bring him through his difficulties. Again, he writes in verse 50, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.” The only comfort for his troubled heart was in the replenishing word of God.
Do you see the good Shepherd working in your life to create a greater hunger in you for His word? Is He using a present time of adversity? In His word, you will find rest for your soul.
2) He Is Leading Me.
In the second line of verse 2, David says, “He leads me beside quiet waters.” As country streams flow through pastures, there are narrow places where the rocks cause the flow of water to back up – and be still and “quiet.” That is where the shepherd would lead His flock. He does not guide them where the swift currents make the sheep to be fearful. They will not drink or be able to rest there. Instead, he ushers his flock to places where the waters are peaceful and calming.
By this analogy, David states that God is leading him into His perfect peace. Even when the circumstances around him were raging, he possessed a God-given tranquility of heart that only He can give. Jesus promises in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.’” Jesus, our good shepherd, leads us to experience His supernatural peace, something this world cannot give.
He Gives Me Peace
David certainly experienced this perfect peace. It was much like what Paul describes in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace comes to our hearts as we commit our concerns to God in prayer.
On the outside, our turbulent circumstances may be like a raging storm. But on the inside, we can know the peace that surpasses all human understanding. This is what we experience as we follow the Lord and nourish our soul upon His Word.
Two Important Questions
I have two questions to ask you. These are important for you to pause and give careful thought.
First – Are you feeding on the Word of God? This psalm urges us to lie down in green pastures. Make time in the busyness of your day to be in the Scripture. Hunger for it. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate upon it. Dig into it. Devour it. And it will satisfy and strengthen you as nothing else will!
Second – Are you following the leading of God? Never stray away from your Shepherd. Stay close beside Him. The most repeated invitations that Jesus gave was, “Follow me.”
- He called to Matthew, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9).
- He summoned Philip, “Follow me” (John 1:43).
- He said to Peter, “Follow me” (John 21:19).
- To His disciples, Jesus pressed, “Follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
He is always calling us in the same way.
The Lord is leading you into green pastures where He will feed you an abundance of nourishment in His Word. He will lead us beside still waters to give us His peace in the midst of trying and difficult days. No sheep ever had a better shepherd than who we have in the LORD!
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”