The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Most people think of Psalm 23 as a comfort, a soothing reassurance that the Lord looks after us like a tender shepherd who cares for His sheep–and that is true. But notice one phrase: “He makes me lie down.” I experienced this first hand after being stricken with pneumonia and having my entire life suspended for two weeks while I was confined to bed rest. God knew how to get my attention and stop my busy life long enough to get me to listen to what He wanted to tell me. And His way was to literally “make me lie down.” Now I must add the rest of the verse: “in green pastures.” You might ask, “What’s so green about the pasture of having pneumonia?” But the green pasture is NOT pneumonia, or cancer, or the death of a loved one, or a job loss, or any other trouble that God might allow into our lives to teach us His ways and mold us into the image of His Son. The green pasture is the peace that floods our souls when we submit to the fact that He makes us lie down. When we are quiet, even if God forces us to be so, we are to rest “beside still waters” and listen to His voice, hear His instruction and feed on His Word. Then we will understand why He had to make us lie down in the first place. God’s green pastures are not circumstances or places, they are His presence--Himself. Green pastures mean God’s peace in the midst of the storms of life, contentment in tough times, and thankfulness in all situations–only by God’s grace. It is only then, after lying down in the green pastures of Jesus, our Shepherd, that we can truly say, “He restores my soul.”
Lord God, loving Father, gentle Shepherd, your grace and mercy extend farther than we can imagine, into every circumstance of our lives. Help us to quiet our souls before you so that you don't need to "make us lie down," but that we would fall at your feet willingly in humble submission to You. Amen.
C. H. Spurgeon devotional below: