June 19, 2020by Reverend Dan on June 19, 2020
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters.”
The next thing God provides for us is rest. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”
The first thing we notice is an interesting choice of words here. He “makes” me lie down. I’m sixty-years-old. You don’t have to make me lie down to rest. In fact, I don’t even have to lie down to rest. I can close my eyes just about anywhere.
But have you ever tried to get a three-year-old to bed? Some nights (most nights) you have to make them lie down using any method available: pleading, begging, threatening, tackling, etc. It’s the same for the shepherd. Sometimes he has to force the sheep to rest. They’ll wander all day and all night looking for food. And so, to make a sheep rest, the shepherd would pick it up and fold its legs under it in such a way that it would lie down.
But this position wasn’t just for rest. A sheep cannot properly digest its food unless it lies down. So, he makes the sheep lie down for rest and so that it can digest its food.
Also, to “lie down” conveys a sense of safety and security during that time. Psalm 4:8 says, “In peace I will lie down to sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” By nature, sheep are nervous and skittish. They are scared of their own shadows and jump at every sound they hear. But when the shepherd gets them to lie down, he takes away that feeling. They know they are safe and secure because he is there to protect them. And because of that, they can rest.
Another thing is that given their choice, sheep are always on their feet, looking for food. So, the shepherd makes sure they find a good place to rest. Where? In “green pastures”. There they can easily find food in the rich, sweet grass and then chew their cud while lying down on the soft, carpeted pasture.
Next David writes: “He leads me beside the still waters.” I want you to notice something here - the Shepherd doesn’t push from the back. He leads from the front.
You see, sheep have to be moved away from the food or they will gorge themselves on all the grass. And they know when it’s time to stop eating because the shepherd will lead them away. And trusting the shepherd, they will follow. The shepherd knows that when they finish eating, sheep are in desperate need of water. But they are afraid of moving water and will refuse to drink unless everything is still and quiet. So often, the shepherd gets them to water where he has diverted a rushing river to make a calm pool. And then they’d drink from the still waters.
Finally, on the way to good water the shepherd had to lead the sheep away from bad water because they would stop and drink from any still pool, including polluted puddles where they could pick up parasites that would kill them.
We’re a lot like that, aren’t we? We want calm rest, free from fear and worry. And God provides by leading us into the shelter of his wings. Sometimes, however, we want to stop and do things that will only harm us, and it takes our rest away.
Follow the shepherd, and you will find rest for your weary soul, and you will drink from a fountain that will never run dry.
“Father, Give us rest knowing we are in Your care. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”