He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:2
Rest can feel like an elusive proposition at times. People spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on Amazon or vacations in order to secure rest. Yet how many times do we need a “vacation” from our “vacation”. It can feel like the more we do to put ourselves in the right atmosphere for rest the more exhausted we become.
One benefit of making the Lord your shepherd is that “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Philip Keller, author, Pastor and a shepherd stated in his book, “A Shepherds Look at Psalm 23,” “it’s nearly impossible for sheep to be made to lie down unless four requirements are first met.”
Let’s break down the four requirements of rest.
Fear is a powerful stimulator. There may be no greater natural stimulant that gets your heart racing as quickly than fear does. Fear is a direct assault on your faith.
Faith is putting your trust in a God you have never seen to do what He has promised to do. Faith is not blind to or ignorant of circumstances. Faith believes in a God who transcends time and space and who has never broken a promise. Ever!
Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real,” Rick Warren. Fear will hijack your emotions to manipulate your responses. Fear opens the door for anxiety to enter. More often than not, the things we fear never materialize.
I have not discovered a way to evade fear but there is a way to overcome it!
“6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
When fear attempts to bully you by playing on your emotions and overwhelming your senses, pray and give thanks to God! By faith, give thanks to God in expectation of the answer. Prayer rarely removes my circumstances but prayer does provide me with a peace that will nullify them.
#2 Friction with others
In every animal and human society, there is an established order of dominance or status. Among sheep, it’s called a “butting order”. In our culture, the “big dog” is often the person in the room with the biggest title, paycheck or personality.
Jesus did not use the title card when walking into a room. Instead, He exemplified servant-leadership. By humbling himself He served others. He taught us that the way up is first down. “12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 Humility does not diminish our title or position. Humility is the correct approach to operating within them.
#3 Free from the torment of parasites and flies
Beelzebub was a name given to the devil. It comes from the root word meaning, “lord of the flies.” Beelzebub, the lord of the flies, looks for ways to torment you in order to keep you from rest. If he can get you worked up over your job, situation, politics, traffic or some offense or injustice, then he can make you miserable. Only the Holy Spirit can keep Beelzebub from tormenting you by providing God’s peace and presence against these tormenting attacks.
#4 Freedom from hunger
Where David wrote this Psalm and tended to his father’s flock, is a dry, brown, sunburned wasteland. Green pastures did not just happen by chance but were the product of tremendous labor, time and skill in land use. The shepherd had to provide pastures for the sheep to eat and to get their fill.
Are you spending time in God’s word regularly? We have to resist the temptation to snack on God’s word throughout the week and develop a set time to read and meditate on His word. Without it, we may turn to carnal means to satisfy our hunger pains that will lead us away from God.
You can get eight hours of sleep but only God can give you rest. His presence alone can quiet the chaos around you. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 “He makes me lie down,” indicates that only the shepherd is able to provide the right atmosphere for rest. Make the Lord your shepherd today and experience His surpassing peace and rest!