If there is one biblical hero people turn to for comfort, it is King David! People may not even realize a particular verse was written by David, but if it is a passage about God’s comfort, guidance, strength and faithfulness, then there is a very good chance it was written by David.
Psalm 7, Psalm 18, Psalm 34, Psalm 52, Psalm 56, Psalm 59, Psalm 63, Psalm 142 and our Psalm in this series, Psalm 23, are just nine of the 76 Psalms attributed to King David.
Why do we value David’s Psalms? Why do we gravitate to these songs when we are in trouble and in trials and in pain?
Because David has been where we are and he was real when he wrote about his failings, his sin, his enemies, his family issues, and his personal doubts. At the same time he was very real about his total dependence on the God of the Bible, The Shepherd. The man after God’s own heart shared deeply about that intimate relationship and we want just a slice of what he enjoyed with his Creator! And we can! That is why God “breathed” the very words into David’s songs so we can come to them again and again for comfort; for teaching; for exhortation…for hope! In Psalm 23, we learn, with David, what God’s GRACE looks like!
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.”
Wow! What great imagery! I cannot think of a more relaxing, refreshing, satisfying place to be than laying down on a grassy meadow (on a blanket of course since I am not a real sheep) beside a quiet body of water. I’ve actually done this a few times just hanging out in nature away from city chaos. I can say with sincerest honesty that it is a slice of heaven! Very often I am sound asleep within just a few minutes… until a fly buzzes over my head or the ants take over the blanket! (Oh the joys of nature at its best!)
I have also frequented various waterfalls and rapids, like my recent visit to Yellowstone National Park. Wow! Again, such amazing demonstrations of the world God has given us. I was so blessed to stand and be immersed into the heart of nature and all its power. But, I wouldn’t say it was restful. I haven’t found yet a waterfall/rapids area that I would fall sound asleep right next too it. For one, they are super high up and one false “rolling over in my sleep” and that would be the end of said sleep! And two, they aren’t very quiet; deafening is more like it, especially in the spring with snow melts and plentiful rain. You nearly have to shout to be heard by your companions.
It isn’t hard to imagine the difference these two similar (land and water) yet very different locations might affect sheep. Sheep in a grassy meadow and quiet water would be ten times more “at peace” than sheep coming upon a waterfall plummeting thousands of feet below them or the rapids that are at the bottom of that waterfall. Actually, good luck to the person trying to get the sheep near a waterfall. I think they would start bleating and cowering long before they ever got to the falls thanks to the thunderous noise!
And, yet, we as stubborn sheep-like people very often prefer the thrill and danger of waterfalls and rapids over the boring same old daily routine of a mere meadow and placid water reservoir. I think that is why David uses the terms of “makes me lie down” and “leads me beside”. We are so busy, so overwhelmed with our version of chaos, so burden with life (waterfalls and rapids) that we miss the GRACE, God’s GRACE (green pastures and quiet waters)!
And the very sad thing is, when we miss God’s GRACE we tend to also keep other’s from experiencing GRACE because we haven’t taken our fill of GRACE we cannot possibly extend it to others. So we keep others twirling round and round with us in chaos and burdens and fears and worry and…and…and…
All the while, God has green pastures and quiet waters just waiting for us! GRACE just waiting to embrace us!
David, looked over the years of his life and realized that God, The Shepherd, had to “make” him lie down in green pastures and actually had to lead him to “quiet water”! David did not always willingly go to these most peaceful, refreshing and restful places. He didn’t always see the value in God’s amazing GRACE. He must have been a Type A personality, like me!
It think it is safe to surmise that God will use whatever method is needed to get us to stay in His pasture, near His refreshing water. It is only there that we can truly experience God’s GRACE! In green pastures and by still waters we are overwhelmed with God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His steadfastness, His mercy…His GRACE! And as others see us living in that GRACE, you know what happens? They want to know where that green pasture is! They want to know how to be refreshed by still waters! All because they see God’s GRACE in us and pouring out of us!
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10
“For of His [Jesus] fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16