Summary: Only God, our Shepherd, can give you complete and peaceful rest!
The testimony of David is powerful. Verse 1 sets the tone for the rest of this precious Psalms; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not. After verse 1, David begins to outline for us the loving care of the shepherd.
The beauty of the Psalms is that David communicates to us through his personal testimony some guaranteed promises for the sheep. David says now that I’ve declared my satisfaction in the Shepherd, now, let me tell you why I’m satisfied. The first guarantee for every believer is this; “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”.
What a word of comfort and encouragement, especially, in times in a world filled with so much unrest.
In 1933 Gerhard Von Rad aptly observed that among the many benefits of redemption offered to man by Scripture, that of rest has been overlooked in biblical theology.
Not only has rest been overlooked in biblical theology but it is overlooked in personal practice. Many people survive off 4-6 hours of rest on a daily basis. Many people search for peaceful rest through Nyquil, alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, tea, and Thera-flu, only to discover a lack of refreshment the next morning.
The tragedy of Michael Jackson’s life is that he left too soon trying to find rest in prescription drugs that ultimately took his life. His story was tragic but many of us still look for rest in all the wrong places.
Restlessness, stain, toil, the daily grind, anxiety, worry, nervousness, tension, and distress zap our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual vitality.
Restlessness results in physical, emotional, and spiritual burnout. Have you ever been so exhausted that mentally you can’t think straight, physically, you couldn’t find the right position to sleep right, and spiritually, you couldn’t hear the voice of God clearly? Restlessness causes you to make the wrong decisions in life. Restlessness makes a person mean and evil. Restlessness causes ineffectiveness in life’s responsibilities. Restlessness causes short-temperedness. Restlessness causes a person to be un-productive.
I think you get the picture now…
However, what we must remember, realize, recognize, and understand is that apart from God no one can nor will find peaceful rest. Rest is freedom from work, toil, strain, or activity. Rest is the cessation of motion or action of any kind, and applicable to any body or being, rest from labor, rest from mental exertion or rest of body or mind. Rest is freedom from anxiety or disturbance. To rest is to dispose oneself at ease in order to relieve or avoid fatigue.
In a spiritual sense, rest means to cease from one’s work as a way of release from life’s strains and toils. The only way to experience spiritual rest is through the rest that only Christ, our Shepherd, can provide.
Understanding the significance of rest is to understand the character of sheep. Sheep are needy creatures who don’t know how to care for themselves. So much so that David praises God for being able to provide rest for all of us who are restless.
John Walvoord writes that...
"Sheep are utterly dependent upon the shepherd for almost everything pertaining to their well-being. Only as sheep are willing to follow Christ will they find their complete spiritual needs supplied.
Green pastures and quiet waters are mentioned first because they are priority needs of the sheep if they are to survive and grow. The idea here is "He makes me rest".
The 1st guaranteed provisional care of the shepherd is communicated to us today to place our trust in the Shepherd for the rest of our lives, why, because;
Only God, our Shepherd, can give you complete and peaceful rest!
Let’s pull back the covers on this text to discover the provision of rest provided to us by the Shepherd of our souls:
I. The Sovereignty of God’s Rest
I struggled with this text, somewhat, because of the words, “He makes me…”
I questioned the statement trying to understand what it means to say “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”. Does God force us to lay down like an angry parent? Does He hold us tight and shake us hard to make us go to sleep?
Has a little a boy I remember an occasion of “She made me to lie down in the bed”.
I grew up in a house with 4 boys and 1 sister. You can just about imagine the chaos our house had each and every day. My sister is the youngest, so she and my younger brother got away with murder. My other two brothers and myself were always in trouble. I’ll never forget, we were in the house being mischievous, playing with matches. It was in the middle of the day and we decided to setup camp in the living room of our house. We got blankets and sticks to make a tent. We got sleeping bags to place in the tent. We got food, hot dogs and marshmallows, to place in the tent. We made homemade lemonade to drink. We were ready for our in-house camping trip in the living room. One problem, we can’t have a camping trip with a camp fire to roast our hot dogs and marshmallows.