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. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
The beginning of this pastoral Psalm conjures up a picturesque setting. Lush meadows await with beds of grass. Streams rush with refreshment and sustenance. There is a Narnia like beauty that tickles the imagination while we take in the first few verses . . .
Until we move beyond the scenery to the sheep who are apparently running a muck. The are doing their own thing and unable to find their own way. Why else would the Psalmist say that the Shepherd makes us lie down? Who needs to be forced to rest? I’ll rest when I’m tired, is our mantra. And yet, we don’t.
The Shepherd is all action. He is restoring. He is making. He is leading, and from what I gather, leading sheep is no easy task. A sheep dog expends great energy running circles around the sheep to get them herded in the right direction. A Shepherd needs tools, not only for fighting off enemies, but for getting the sheep to do what is in their best interest–because left to their own desires, they aren’t choosing their best.
So the questions for us–the sheep–are:
- Are we heeding the nudge of the Shepherd on the path where He’s leading?
- Are we resting when He says rest?
- Are we moving when He says move?
- Are we resisting His invitation to lie down in the green pastures, to be restored?
Let us not rush past these verses because they are common. There is a message here that is convicting, if we pause to let the Spirit convict. In a world of run-a-muck sheep, a Shepherd waits with an unbelievable offer: restoration for our souls.