Do you know this Psalm by heart? I would encourage you over this day to read it more than just once. Read it and try to memorize it and maybe this Sunday we will say it together to see if it stayed with us. What a psalm, and it is one that is used consistently in so many different contexts. But the majority of the time that I use this psalm happens to be in contexts where there is death or imminent death. It isn’t just the line in vs.4 that brings that context to mind, but the entire psalm and its assurance that the Lord is our shepherd.
It is interesting to analyze this psalm and see what the shepherd does for the sheep. The first thing that he does is make the sheep lie down in green pastures. God makes us take a break at times. There are so many times in our lives when we just need to take a break, but don’t. It is in those times that sometimes things go wrong with our bodies and we are forced to take a break. I don’t want to make that direct connection, but it often works for me in describing it to those who are forced to take that break because their body has just given out. The shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, he doesn’t give us a choice, especially if we are not wanting to take that break.
We are lead to water, but not forced to drink. We are lead to the correct paths, but not forced to take them. There is the presence of the Lord, in a staff and rod, to comfort me when I walk through dangerous times and moments in my life when my life just might be required. This psalm just allows us to feel that we are never, ever, alone in whatever situation we just might find in life. It is iconic because it provides the type of scenes which do provide comfort and peace. Let’s see if we can memorize it.