22st August 2023
Offered by Steppes of Faith
What God Meant by Green Pastures and Still Waters
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters." Psalm 23:2
In the areas around Jerusalem, the hillsides are mainly dirt and sand. There's not a lot of lush, green grass. All you find are a bunch of rocks and maybe a sprig of grass popping up here and there, which you can see here.
So, what could David have been referring to when he says God makes him lie down in green pastures?
Just like where you live, there are certain times of year when it rains often and there are times when it's a bit dry.
Psalm 23:2 is referring to those dry seasons, not just in the environment but in our lives.
In Israel, the west wind blows its humidity against the hillsides where it condenses on the cool rocks at night. That little bit of moisture is just enough to grow those little sprigs of grass.
If you step back from the scene after it rains, you will see those sprigs of grass on some areas of the hillsides facing the wind. These are the green pastures the Bible talks about.
Take another look and you'll see dirt paths crossing the hillsides.
These paths are where the shepherd allows his or her sheep to graze on those little sprigs, and they are spaced just far enough apart so the sheep can both reach into the middle to get a mouthful of grassy goodness.
It's not a lot of grass. Just little sprigs.
But it's enough to take a bite then walk a little farther and take another bite. The shepherd leads the sheep through the sprigs until each sheep has had a chance to eat. It's not a lot of grass sometimes, but it's enough for today's meal.
This is how God shepherds us.
He doesn't lead us to lush green cattle pastures where we have everything in abundance.
No, God leads us along the right paths through the little sprigs giving us just enough for today.
As for lying down in green pastures, the shepherd creates enclosures where the sheep can rest at night in safety as well as eat.
In this sense, the green pastures are a place for us to rest under the shepherd's (God's) watchful eye.
God doesn't "make" us lie down, but He offers His peace and contentment every day to those who seek it.
Now, let's take a look at the other half of Psalm 23:2 and what David meant by "still waters."
Here in the western part of the world, it's challenging to find anyone who can take life slowly.
We tend to focus on staying busy, working hard (sometimes to the extreme), managing our spinning plates, and finding the perfect work-life balance.
The still waters we read about in Psalm 23:2 aren't swift-moving rivers or even little streams, but a shallow, quiet trickle of water gently flowing along.
A shepherd would never lead his sheep to a rapidly flowing river.
It would be too dangerous and loud causing the sheep to be frightened.
God doesn't want this for us. He longs to give us peace, rest, and repose, so He takes us to where the water is pure, clear, and almost motionless so we can refresh ourselves in Him.
We can't experience the serene power of the still waters or satisfy our thirst when we only focus on our daily schedules and busyness.
We must actively seek Him every day so He can lead us to a continual place of rest and prepare us for His kingdom's work.
God doesn't lead us through green pastures and along still waters just for our sake.
It's all for His name's sake and for His glory alone.
We can only benefit from it all because of His grace. After the psalmist talks about green pastures and still waters in verse two, he says this.
"He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:3
Supplying our daily needs and offering us peace and rest are all a part of God's desire to restore our souls, to revive us in Him. It is only through His power and grace that we can. He alone deserves all the glory and worship for it.
The next time you're feeling frantic and stressed and you're wondering how you're going to make it through the day, remember Psalm 23:2.
Allow God the Shepherd to guide you along His paths knowing He has everything in control.
He knows what you need and He'll help you get there.
All you need to do is trust Him. Your green pastures and still waters are closer than you think.
Trust. Believe. Rest.
Steppes of Faith
Walking together with you as we build our faith in our holy Lord and Saviour together.
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