“The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul”
The sheep depend upon the shepherd for what they need. His responsibility is to find, and then lead them to, the right places. There they will find good food, cool waters and a place to rest in peace. Green pastures – in which to lie down on the soft grass after chewing at the tender shoots. Quiet waters – not rushing torrents, for sheep are afraid of them and will not drink. The picture David paints is very peaceful and attractive.
Clearly David is not thinking only of food and water for his body. He has in mind a place where he may find rest and peace with his Shepherd. A place where he may be cleansed, refreshed and restored in body, mind and spirit. And this is what we all need amidst the hustle and bustle, the trials and turmoil, the fears and failing of our world. It is a place not only for the faithful flock, but also for those who have strayed off by themselves and ended up lost and desolate. The Shepherd will find them and bring them back, restoring them to health and to fellowship.
David found this out for himself after the sin arising from his relationship with Bathsheba. He came back to the Lord crying out for forgiveness and healing – and the Lord did just that.
- “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (Psalm 51:7-8)
There will be periods in all our lives when the things of the world are not enough. Food and drink and other resources will bring no satisfaction or relief. We will need something far deeper and longer lasting. Jesus points us towards the need for such an inner place of rest and refreshment with Him.
- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)
- “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14)
The ‘secret gardens’ of green pastures that we need are not in the mountains, on lonely beaches or in quiet chapels – although they may help. These are quiet places God is planting deep within us. It is here that the Lord chooses to meet with us personally and effectively. This is what God has in mind when He tells us,
- “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
Set aside a regular time for quiet reflection with God – where He can minister to you,
Lord I need Your presence and ministry in the depths of my being. Help me to open myself to You and to be still before You whilst You are at work. Amen.