He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul (Psalm 23:2,3).
I prefer to think that I am in control of my life. If I am smart enough, work hard enough, and get some breaks, I should be able to take care of myself.
How foolish of me!
If I am going to be compared to an animal, I would prefer it be a lion. Lions are strong. We call them the “King of Beasts.” No one makes a lion do anything. No one is going to lead him around at will.
So, what was David thinking when he compared himself to a mere sheep? David was a warrior. David was powerful. David took charge of his life. He was the giant killer. He was a king.
Yet, he wrote that someone made him do things: “He makes me lie down…” He admitted that someone else controlled his life: “He leads me…” Who in the world would be so powerful?
Not someone in the world. This one dwells in heaven: “The Lord is my shepherd…”
That makes a difference. That one is greater than a King David—greater than any king. This is the Lord God.
David knew he needed food and drink. What was he given? “Green pastures”, not dry stubble.
“Quiet waters”, not a dangerous, raging torrent.
“He restores my soul,” David exclaimed. Faith and hope have been renewed.
No wonder he began the psalm by declaring, “I shall not be in want.”
Could that be right? Could he honestly say that he would lack nothing that he needs? Can we say that?
I only doubt that because I often think I need things that I do not need. God, of course, knows better.
I might easily admit that I don’t need a yacht, but what about other things? Don’t I need protection? Don’t I need healing? Don’t I always need food and drink?
Maybe. At times. At times, not.
The all-wise, Good Shepherd knows that sometimes I need to be sick. Sometimes, I need to go hungry. Sometimes, I need to lose friends.
And, at some time, I may need to lose my life.
I don’t like those possibilities. At those times, I am tempted to ask, “Where are the green pastures and the still waters?”
The Good Shepherd would answer, “They are still there. You just don’t recognize them. You still don’t know what you need.”
Well, I know I need to stay alive!
So, does he. So, he makes it possible. He will provide what my body and soul really need. He will make his goodness and love follow me through life. He will walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t need to fear its darkness. I don’t need to tremble before the threat of hell.
I don’t need to fear the Forever. I will spend it with him.
May I always remember that I need him—and I need nothing more!
We pray: Lord Jesus, Shepherd of your sheep, guard, and keep us so we do not stray. Open our eyes to see your protecting hand when danger confronts us. Sharpen our vision so that we may see more clearly what we truly do need. Build up our faith when we cannot see the good you are giving. Bless us. Lead us. Open for us the gate to glory. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military