He Makes Me Lie Down In Green Pastures

When I was a little boy, I was constantly on the go playing with friends. At some point, I started developing back problems. Sometimes the pain was so intense that I was forced to lie down on the couch in my living room while watching and listening to my friends play outside without me. And while unusual for a child as young as I was to struggle with such an ailment, someone with as much energy as I had needed a reason to rest.

Most shepherds start their sheep grazing around 4am. The sheep constantly walk as they graze and are never still. By mid-morning, the sun is beaming and the sheep are tired, hot, and thirsty. The wise shepherd knows that the sheep must not drink when it is hot, especially if its stomach is filled with undigested grass. So the shepherd makes the sheep lie down in green pastures – in a cool, soft spot. Since sheep will not eat lying down, he instead chews the cud (nature’s way of digestion).

One thing that God has tried to teach us in the bible is the value of rest. To Him, rest is not wasted time, but has value, worth, and purpose. In fact, it is essential for both our physical and our spiritual well-being. What person of greatness didn’t separate himself from the hurry of life for rest and reflection? Great poems are not written during the hustle and bustle of life. In fact, our best reflections on God and upon scripture will more often occur when we “stop”. Psa 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

And so it was that Jesus took time alone to pray. Elijah found God not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still small voice”. Moses saw the burning bush when he was on a hillside. Even our beloved Paul needed time in his “green pasture” and so was imprisoned and taken to Rome. It was here under house arrest that he wrote 4 of his greatest epistles. And while imprisonment sounds contrary to the “green pastures” of Psa 23, Paul wrote about this experience in Phil 1:12, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.”

We proudly sing “Work for the night is coming”, “Onward, Christian soldier”, and “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” but it is in the moments of tranquility that God can often be seen more clearly. And so God, through providence or circumstances, sometimes puts us on our backs that we might have opportunity to look up – “He makes me lie down in greed pastures.”