Tag: sheep

Green Pastures and Still Waters

Psalm 23:2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

He makes me lie down in green pastures

As sheep, we are free to chose our shepherd, the one that leads us and the one that we willingly follow. For it is the shepherd that is responsible for the care, feeding, health and protection of his flock. That task of shepherding is cumbersome and requires a vigiliant shepherd, otherwise the sheep and the herd will find itself in brown, barren fields, thirsty, matted, malnourished and unsettled. But if The Lord is your shepherd, He leads you in green pastures and beside still waters.

As we mentioned last time, sheep can’t find water or pasture without a shepherd. They have no sense of direction and wind up following another sheep, usually to a dirty, insect infested pothole filled with muddy water. Sheep will settle for less, that momentary satisfaction; they lack discernment and don’t know what’s good for them until the shepherd comes to their rescue.

And according to the professional shepherd, Phillip Keller,

… it is almost impossible for sheep to be made to lie down”.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23; page 41

Here are the four requirements that must be met, in order for sheep to physically lie down –

  1. They must be free from all fear
  2. They must be free from friction with others of their kind
  3. They must be free from pests
  4. They must be free from feeling hungry

So, if our text says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures…” (which it does), then these four requirements have been met for the sheep to actually lie down for the shepherd. Let’s consider each one, briefly.

Free from all fear – Sheep are prey animals, remember? So they are constantly on guard for coyotes, bears and the like, which if they sense them, they will become agitated, restless, and easily panicked. They are defenseless and feeble and so their only choice is to run. That is why they stand up and are ready to run for their life at all times. It is the shepherd’s presence that allows them to lie down.

Free from friction with others of their kind – Within the flock there is a literal “butting” order, a rivalry where sheep stand up and defend their rights, where they actually challenge intruders or other aggressors. This constant jealousy makes the sheep edgy, tense and restless. There is a tension that comes when standing up for themselves, their rights and trying to get ahead. Again, the shepherd’s presence makes the difference for them. They are safe and accepted by him.

Freedom from pests and parasites – There are seasons where sheep are under constant attack from flies and ticks making it next to impossible for the sheep to lie down. Extra care is needed by these sheep who are “being bugged”. These all consuming distractions, “nose-flies”, demand the sheeps full attention and there is no way that sheep will lie down.

Free from finding food and hunger – Have you ever considered that most sheep countries are in dry, semi-arid areas of the globe? You’re not gonna find green pastures there. To find those lush, verdant grazing fields takes the skill of an experienced shepherd, who has planned and labored to get his flock there. For the good shepherd, a worn-out field, lacking vegetation does not allow for a sheep to eat, much less lie down. Hungry sheep are forever on their feet searching for food.

With these four requirements met, the Shepherd has released the sheep to be able to lie down in lush, green pastures, confident they are safe, healthy, defended, and satisfied.

Looking back at these four requirements for sheep to lie down, do you see any parallels with your life, your needs or behaviors?

How’s your “fear factor”? Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Stressed, feeling panicked and sometimes just ready to bolt?

How trapped have you become by trying to get ahead? By standing up for your rights and yielding to the rivalry?

What are your distractions that keep you from truly resting? What distractions are bugging you?

Have you settled for grazing on meaningless, empty fields that bring you no spiritual nutrition? Are you searching for food that satisfies?

The Good Shepherd provides the peace and the place for His sheep to lie down. He has made a place for them to lie down. The sheep know this, trust him and rest because of his presence with them.

He leads me beside still waters

Even though sheep thrive in dry climates, they still require water, for without it dehydration sets in, which effects the tissues and causes serious damage. Most of sheep’s water will come from either

  • dew on the grass
  • deep wells
  • streams

Although the skilled shepherd will lead the flock to those streams, sheep can go for months without actually drinking from a stream. Why?

Streams in the desert are hard to find, yes, that’s one reason. But more interestingly, sheep are able to drink every day, if there is heavy dew on the grass.That water is enough to sustain them for weeks without coming to a well or stream. Sheep will graze just before dawn on drenched vegetation and become fully satisfied.

A fully satisfied sheep is happy and refreshed and will lie down to rest and ruminate.

This, again, is the shepherd’s job – to keep the sheep watered, satisfied and able to lie down, even if they are in a dry place. The shepherd knows where the next watering source is and allows for his sheep to find daily thirst quenching from the early morning dew until they reach their goal – beside still waters.

As His sheep, be encouraged, that even in the dry times, He has provided the early morning dew (first light prayer time) for you to find satisfaction. You can go for months on just those dew point – prayer times. Without them tho’, dehydration sets in and your Spirit shrivels up, causing you serious spiritual damage.

As His sheep, He is able to provide for each and every requirement that it takes for you to be at rest enough to lie down. He is the Good Shepherd and He cares for His sheep.

Ponder, won’t you, are you grazing in green pastures and beside still waters or have you been feeding on some barren hillside, drinking from dirty potholes of muddy water? The Good Shepherd will lead you if you chose to follow Him.

He will lead you to lie down in green pastures and drink beside still waters.

Let’s graze on that dew soaked meal each day.

Debbie

Sources

  • A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23; W. Phillip Keller; Zondervan Books; 1970, 2007

We all like sheep

Do you remember hearing about these three famous, ground breaking sheep?

Montauciel – the famous French sheep? Shrek – the infamous 59 1/2 pound sheep? Dolly – the first mammal cloned?

Here’s a refresher:

Montauciel, who’s name means “climb to the sky” in French, was used as guinea pig for the Mongolfier brothers in the 18th century who were experimenting with hot air balloons. The sheep was put in the basket, along with a duck and rooster and actually flew 2 miles at an altitude of 1,500 ft, before the balloon landed. All passengers were ok upon landing.

Shrek, lived on a wool farm in New Zealand with 17,000 other Merino sheep. These sheep are sheared once a year but Shrek was having none of it! He hid for 6 years as each yearly shearing time came. Seriously! After 6 years, in 2004 he was finally caught and shorn in 20 minutes. 59 1/2 pounds of wool came from him, enough to make 20 men’s wool suits.

Shrek before
Shrek after

Dolly, the sheep, was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996. She was used for medical research.

Now, I admit that I’m a city girl, but there is a lot to be learned from sheep. So baaaa-re with me.

Check out these characteristics of sheep, both good and baaa-d:

  • Sheep experience emotions like humans. Fear, anger, rage, despair, disgust, boredom and happiness. They actually feel despair when their friends are led to the slaughter.
  • Sheep are intelligent with impressive facial memory skills.
  • Sheep have excellent hearing and can recognize their shepherd’s voice out of a crowd.
  • Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them – off a cliff or through water, makes no difference. They are hardwired to follow without even thinking.
  • Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground cause them to baulk.
  • Sheep build friendships and stick up for one another in fights.
  • Sheep are very social creatures and require the presence of 4-5 other sheep when they are grazing in order to maintain their visual link to each other.
  • Sheep find safety in numbers and get agitated when separated.
  • Sheep have excellent peripheral vision fields of 270-320 degrees.
  • Sheep are susceptible to disease such as parasites when they are mismanaged.
  • Sheep wag their tails, like dogs and form bonds with their shepherd.

Throughout history, humans have been compared to sheep. In ancient times kings were considered the shepherds of their kingdoms and the people his sheep.

In the Bible we see this played out with the twist the we (human’s) are the sheep of The Lord’s pasture.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who has made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 100:3

Probably the most well known passage in the Bible about sheep and the shepherd is Psalm 23. And that passage is at the heart of this message.

When I was recently reading this passage, I was struck with over 11 things that the shepherd does for the sheep! The entire psalm is one in which the Shepherd takes the initiative and responsibility for the care, protection, provision, supervision and defense of the sheep in his/her flock. Check it out.

Here is the list I made in my notebook of what Our Shepherd does for us, His sheep:

  1. He provides everything I need. I don’t go without anything that I need. He is my friend.
  2. He makes me lie down – whether I think I need to rest or not, He knows I do and makes stretch out.
  3. He leads me – he actually is in front of me leading me to the goal or watering place where I will find rest.
  4. He refreshes my soul – he renews me in my weariness and allows strength to return to me.
  5. He guides me – again he’s waaaay ahead of me, guiding me along the bumpy path.
  6. In the valley, He is with me – when shadows and darkness overwhelm me, He is right there with me.
  7. Both his rod and staff bring me comfort – his rod corrects me and his staff supports me – both bring me comfort and repentance when needed.
  8. In the face of my enemies, he orders and arranges all that I need to be sustained.
  9. He puts oil on my head providing healing, acceptance and sweet fragrance.
  10. He promises goodness and love will always have my back.
  11. AND, he wants to live with me forever! Not just here in this pen on this planet.

Wouldn’t you agree that the sheep have a pretty good gig?

The shepherd totally has the sheep covered. The sheep do so very little and are so dependent on the shepherd. Yet there is a sweet, personal relationship between each sheep and their shepherd that makes the sheep wag it’s tail in happiness and satisfaction when close to their shepherd or listening to his voice.

The precious, tender, reality of these verses demonstrate the Lord’s patient, conscious, willful, loving, strong, and complete care for us – his sheep.

Our Great Shepherd

I was and continue to be overwhelmed by my careful shepherd.

I trust “the wool not be pulled over your eyes” and you too, rest confidently in the complete care and provision of your Great Shepherd.

Cheers to you.

For a complete downloadable Bible study on the 23rd Psalm, go to my Bible studies and click on the file.