Summary: This is the third message in a series that takes a fresh look at Psalm twenty-three. This message examines the importance of the rest that the Lord provides.
Today, I would like you to take an imaginary trip with me. Close your eyes and let’s begin our journey. Envision a beautiful lush green meadow with soft grass. Through the middle of this meadow runs a clear stream. The sky is blue, the sun is shining brightly and there is a soft cool breeze blowing through the trees. Everything is peaceful, so you spread out a blanket beside the stream and lay down to take a nap or maybe read a book. This is an opportunity for you to escape the cares of life for at least a moment. For the majority of us this is a very inviting picture. This is the exact image that David is painting in verse two. A good shepherd desires to lead his sheep to such a place as this. This would be a place where his sheep could lay down without any fear or disturbance. A place that is necessary for the well being of his sheep. This is the same type of place that the Good Shepherd is striving to lead us to. He knows that like the sheep this is necessary for our well being as well. As we reflect on David’s words today, we will discover exactly how and why God wants to do this for us. But above all, I would like us to discover all the benefits that come from allowing the Shepherd to lead us to this place.
I. Understanding why this is essential for the sheep.
A. Sheep require rest to properly digest their food.
1. Not only does a shepherd make sure that the sheep have nourishment they also are concerned about the sheep having proper rest.
2. The shepherd must search out a shaded, peaceful and secure place for the sheep to lie down in order that they may properly digest their food.
3. After the shepherd finds this place that offers his sheep a high level of tranquility, he leads them there.
4. As the sheep lie there during the heat of the day they will chew their cud.
5. This is just another example of the shepherd understanding the needs of his sheep.
B. Sheep can be very easily stressed out.
1. Sheep will not lie down when they feel even the slightest little bit of fear.
2. Sleep will not lie down if they sense any friction in the flock. In flocks there is what is often known as the butting order.
3. Sleep will not lie down if they are being bothered by flies and parasites.
4. Sheep will not lie down if they feel the least bit hungry. This is why good pasture is essential.
C. Sheep need a peaceful environment in order to rest.
1. When one weighs the four factors that affect a sheep’s ability to rest you can begin to see the importance of a peaceful environment.
2. What we need to realize is that these words have nothing to do with the sheep eating all they want or drinking all they want.
3. The Hebrew word used for “pasture” does not necessarily mean a place of grazing. It refers to a lush meadow that is beautiful and peaceful.
4. The Hebrew term translated “still waters” can literally be translated “restful waters.”
5. The focus of both images has to do with a place that is peaceful and encourages one to rest.