At around 2 years old, problems with sleep became apparent with my son, Gabriel. No matter what remedy we tried, he just had a hard time settling his mind. When he went to bed, his mind would go on overdrive, processing all the details from the events of today, yesterday, and as far back as his memory can take him. It is no easy feat to make our very active boy lie down. And though I have no firsthand experience, it seems to be the case with sheep as well.
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post on Psalm 23, which was based on my husband’s teaching notes. The first post was just on the first verse: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (ESV). Though the verse has less than 10 words, each word was like a juicy morsel to savor and satisfy our hungry souls. The next verse is no different.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
W. Phillip Keller, who had worked as a shepherd, wrote about his experiences as they relate to the 23rd Psalm in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Making sheep lie down was not as easy as it sounds. In order for them to lie down, they had to be free from fear, free from friction with other sheep, free from flies and other pests, and free from hunger. Keller writes, “It is only the sheepman himself who can provide release from the anxieties. It all depends upon the diligence of the owner whether or not his flock is free from disturbing influences … I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field.” (p. 33, 35). Since my only experience with sheep is driving past them on the road, I appreciate this brother’s insight.
What an appropriate picture of us: helpless, anxious, fearful, unable to experience true peace on our own. And what a fitting picture of God as our Shepherd: the only One who can free us from our fears, the only One who can make us lie down, the only One who can give us peace and rest. That is restful assurance!
Sometimes we can reduce the Christian life to a list of do’s and don’ts, that we forget the most needful thing is to rest in God our Savior. Sometimes we frantically look at our trials and the uncertainties they hold, that we forget to focus on the presence of our Shepherd to calm our anxious hearts. He will be the One to guide us to the places of nourishment (green pastures) and refreshment (still waters) for our souls.
(Photo credit: smilla4)