Scripture: He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:2-3 ESV
Observation: The second and third verses to this psalm carry a similar theme: Yahweh leads his sheep. Where? To green pastures that abound in nutritious food and are free of thorns and thistles that would tear at the flesh. To stilled waters where it is safe to quench the thirst without fear of being swept away by torrent currents. And to paths of righteousness where one can stay the course and avoid wrong turns that lead to harm’s way. In short, David’s Good Shepherd leads him to where he finds restoration of the soul.
Takeaway: David, once a shepherd of sheep and now of God’s people, understands how important it is to follow the leader. Sheep, not the smartest of mammals, can easily wander away from their shepherd into dangerous situations. Whether a treacherous rocky cleft or the hunting ground of a predator, sheep have a propensity to stray toward trouble. And sheep are easily spooked and agitated, frantically bleating for their master’s help when encountering a crisis. That’s why David states that Yahweh makes him lie down in green pastures and leads him to still waters where he can find security, rest, and nourishment for his body and soul. Otherwise, he and we would wander into perilous enemy territory where ravenous beasts would seek to ravish our souls.
David’s and our part? Submit to our Good Shepherd when he graciously makes us lie down to refresh and rest our souls in his presence. There we find his perfect peace that calms our agitated minds and transforms our thinking that we might rise again and walk in his paths of righteousness. And even when we later foolishly stray from him, he listens attentively for our bleating, frantic prayers and mercifully comes to our aid. Why? Because that’s what a good shepherd does.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, our Good Shepherd, who is attentive to our every need. Would you please help us submit to his guidance when he leads us to sanctuaries that restore our bodies and souls? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling