…He makes me lie down in green pasture

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

One of the most fascinating things I have learned so far in this Psalm 23 series is that green pasture doesn’t just happen! In many places, green pastures may not exist until someone – usually the shepherd- tills the soil, plants the grass and legumes, irrigates the land, and tends to the pasture to ensure the nutritional needs of the sheep are met.

After sheep have trailed all day, they need lush pasture to forage on and lie down in and chew their cud. Pasturing is a time of rest and refreshing. Making and/ finding green pasture is a very intentional process. Healthy pasture by and large is in healthy soil. Healthier soils yield better-quality grass which means healthier sheep.

So lets look at the scripture again….

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; Psalm 23:1-2

What caught my eye was He ‘makes’. To make is to cause to exist or happen. Rest is a concept that originated from God (on the 7th day He rested). God is the only one that can give true rest. His invitation as a shepherd is:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest [make you lie down in green pasture (my interpretation)]” Matthew 11:28 NIV

There are times when I get so busy with the hustle and bustle of daily life- work, kids, home life, school, church life, my daily Netflix time- to the detriment of my spirituality. I get too busy for my one-on -one with my Shepherd and it manifests as me feeling physically irritable and emotionally drained. It is in those times that I am forced to rest. God literally makes me lie down and reminds me to rest and refresh in Him. One of the ways we lie down in green pastures in His presence when we make out time with Him through the study  and meditation of His Word. Times of refreshing comes from presence of God (Acts 3:20).

Now lets backtrack to the part on soils: Healthy pasture is in the health of the soil. The quality of rest and refreshment is in the state of the heart that receives the Word of God. Jesus told a parable about the sower and He explains it thus:

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:18-23 NIV

What’s your heart condition? Good soil means good pasture means rest and refreshing. So dear reader, next time you read your bible, don’t rush through it. Be intentional. Take a moment to pasture: to study and meditate on the word and then let the words wash over you as you bask in His rest.

Studying the Word of God

If you are anything like me, then you feel the pressing need to dig deep into the word of God. God may be prodding you and nudging at your conscience, telling you you need to invest time in the study of His word. Then this is for you.

I love studying the word of God but initiating the process of taking my bible and reading is the greatest struggle I encounter on a daily basis. I can watch Netflix till the wee hours of the night but as soon as I pick up my bible, a wave of sleep washes over me and gently lulls me into this place of obtundation.

Recently, I heard a sermon by Pastor James MacDonald that has inspired this post. In his message, he outlined 3 things that will enable us deepen our commitment to God’s word:

Discipline

I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding. Psalm 119:32 NIV

We need to discipline ourselves to pursue the study of God’s word. This is not something God can do for us. I have learned that I need to make the commitment and initially it can be very difficult. To dare to go deeper with God, I need to move out of my comfort zone and take the leap and commit to reading my bible daily. This means I consciously set aside time in my day to do this. The truth is, reading the bible does not just happen and if you don’t carve time to do it, there will be 1000 other things that will occupy your time during the day. That is the process of self-discipline. The beauty of this process is that even though God cannot do it for you, He promises to help by His spirit:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Desire

Eventually, studying the word will become a part of you and it will no longer be a tedious task but a desire, a longing and you will start to look forward to your time in the Word of God. Like the psalmist, this will be your confession:

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Psalm 119:97 NIV

And believe you me, this happens to everyone who goes through the process of discipline. The Word starts to come alive everyday and it draws you in until your desire is for more. And finally the most amazing thing happens:

Delight

You start to delight in the word of God.

How I delight in your commands! How I love them! Psalm 119:47 NLT

Direct me in the path of Your commandments, for there I find delight. Psalm 119:35 Berean Study Bible

What an amazing feeling! and if you were seeking to go deeper with God, at this point you will be like a tree with deep seated roots that are nourished by God Himself.

Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

Wow! I want that!

So I leave you my dear readers with this: Be intentional in studying the Word of God. The command to us today is to

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 King James 2000 Bible