Though I love fluffy, wooly sheep, I don’t know much about them. But I do know they eat a lot, and can pick a pasture clean in short order. So a good shepherd knows that he must keep them on the go, always looking for greener pastures. And knowing that defenseless sheep also need protection, he looks ahead, seeking shelter where his weary flock can safely rest.
The Hebrew word for green pastures or grass, according to Adam Clarke’s Commentary, actually implies a sod dwelling, much like the American pioneers constructed on the prairies. A place to spend the night, or wait out a storm. With strong pens, most likely built of sod blocks, where the sheep could rest safely. Such shelters are not thrown together at the last minute, but built beforehand, because a good shepherd looks ahead, imagining the difficulties along the way.
A good shepherd knows the path his sheep must take.
When night comes on, or storm clouds hover, their good shepherd leads them to the strong refuge he prepared ahead of time. Because he knew dangers along the path.
And there, safely sheltered, he feeds the weak, heals the injured, and wards off enemies. And the sheep doesn’t have to do a thing — nothing at all. Nothing, but stay close to the shepherd, where he gets fed, healed, restored, and protected.
Times of fear, doubt, and confusion come to us all.
Such heaviness of preoccupation that we are unable to even sleep, read, or pray. But our Good Shepherd knew such times would come, and he has prepared special shelters along our pathway. When we feel too weak to feed ourselves, he feeds us with memories of his goodness and promises. When limping and unable to go on, he places others near who carry us in their prayers. When worried or fearful, his Spirit fills our hearts with peace and comfort. And all along our journey, we find safe shelters, where we can rest — warm, fed and safe from danger.
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. — Psalm 23:1-3
Heavenly Father, in our worrisome moments, help us become like sheep, calmly and quietly looking to you for comfort, safety, and provision. Knowing that, as our Good Shepherd, you will only lead us along right and safe paths. And that you will always go before us to prepare the way.
Over to you:
Are you too weak to feed yourself? Limping and unable to go on? Or possibly even trying to run from your problems? Does this Psalm help you remember to quietly rest in the arms of our Good Shepherd?
This Psalm, so full of Sabbath rest, lifts us to a place of peace and quiet in God. Much of the Scripture enjoins us to live for God, do our best for him, and strive toward maturity. Which is all good and right. But it’s also important to remember that we can do nothing without the Good Shepherd’s help and care.
The flock does not keep the shepherd, but the shepherd keeps the flock. Look away from yourself and trust Him with all, in all, and for all. — Through the Bible Day by Day, by F.B. Meyer
When too weak to go on, just rest close to the Shepherd!