He maketh me to lie down in Green Pastures!
Chapter 3 continued
The torment of flies and insects is addressed in a later chapter; the last fear for the sheep to have soothed so that they can lie down in peace is the freedom from the fear of hunger and that would certainly be implied in ‘green pastures’. Mr. Keller, in the beginning of the book says that he gives no apology for presenting his collection of ‘shepherd insights’ into this beloved Psalm. Because of his unique background he has a deep appreciation of what David, the shepherd had in mind.
Many of the great sheep countries of the world are dry, semi-arrid areas according to Mr. Keller; green pastures are not by chance, they come by tremendous skill and labor. They are the result of clearing rough, rocky land; of tearing out brush, roots and stumps; of deep plowing and careful soil preparation, seeding and planting and diligent irrigating. If you have ever farmed or been around farming and cleared a land such as described above, you know that it is a labor of love.
In the Scripture, the Promised Land is portrayed as a ‘land flowing with milk and honey’, which is figurative language but is also agricultural language too. The peak seasons of spring and summer are spoken of as ‘milk flow’ and ‘honey flow’ when the livestock feed on the forage and the bees that visit are said to be producing a corresponding ‘flow’ of milk and honey.
For the believer, a land flowing with milk and honey, the green and good pastures aren’t in physical blessing only but can also be reflected in moving from the dry stony ground of unbelief to the lush full ground of life in Christ.
In my own thoughts, I drew this out to the parable of the sower. The Gospel of Matthew tell us; “Behold, a sower went forth to sow” and Jesus explained that parable to His disciples. We know that Christ is the sower and the seed is the Word of God. In order for the seed to have a growing, live and lasting root that produces fruit, it has to have fertile ground, in this case the fertile ground of a new heart. (Luke 8:15). This is a heart of flesh and not of stone, given us by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
The Good Shepherd tends to this new life; He cultivates it and takes delight in feeding His sheep. Let us continue to enjoy the abundant pasture of a rich life in Him, one of joy and contentment that He provides for us.