Thought for the Week - 12th August

Pastor Gareth Watkins

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

David could write a lot of these Psalms and stories because he had lived such a type of life that could speak into those circumstances. He was a shepherd. He could write a story about shepherds because he was one – he knew what shepherds were all about. He knew the attributes of a shepherd when he wrote this Psalm.

In verse one he writes “The Lord is my shepherd”. The Lord is his shepherd. He is speaking as a man who knows the subject of which he’s writing.

In the second verse, David writes:

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

This passage isn’t necessarily about the green pastures and waters. It’s about the fact that God is making David to lay down. God is leading him in a stillness. God is meeting with David in that place of security, where nothing else is going on. There is a stillness and a peace about this man, because of what God is bringing to him.

Life can be a bit of a merry go round sometimes. This scripture says that the shepherd knows that the sheep have to be still sometimes. He knows there is a laying down and there’s being in the presence of God. The shepherd knows we need this time spiritually, where we come before God in this place of stillness.

The business of life is such that it can rage around us like a torrent. There comes times where the shepherd takes us apart from what is going on with work, family and our mind to a place where the daily commotion is stopped still. Life is still. He describes this place as “he makes me to lie down in green pastures”. The shepherd makes David lay down where he can be with Christ Himself.

David knows that the shepherd wants us to be still.

Do we need such a time? Yes, we need this sense of God laying us in these green pastures where we can feed and lay still before Him. Christ wants us to be in this place where we’re in His presence, in His stillness.

Our church has annual conferences which give us all this opportunity to rest in Christ’s stillness; to come away from the daily grind and feed. Mr Black, one of the founders of Struthers Church, knew that these things were important for us when he started these conferences. He knew that there are times that we need to be laying down in this place of the green pasture, where we can feed on the goodness that God has for us. Where we are still. It’s such a vital thing.

The Psalmist says the benefit of it is that “we shall not want”. David, the shepherd, knew that if you’re in a green pasture there is no want. In these conferences, there is a place of the spiritual wants and hunger inside us are being met. Year after year. What a miracle! There is a sense of coming before God, bringing ourselves before God and resting.

God knows the needs that we have. David knew that the Lord brings him into a place where he shall not want. Does that mean there are no troubles? No. But that sense of yearning, hungering and thirsting goes. Because when you’re in the presence of God, you shall not want. Nothing else matters.

All of our minds need to be rested before God. Many people’s minds are raging on. Many are on tablets, many can’t sleep, many are bound by anxieties and overwhelming troubles etc. So to have your mind rested has got to be a good thing, whoever we are. The Psalmist knows that and God knows that. And in our case, Mr Black knew that.

Everybody’s mind needs a rest. To stop what we’re doing and in some sense have a spiritual lay down.

David knew what he was saying when he says “I shall not want”. How many people get to that place in life? Not many. Many people are driven by the need to be successful, gain a further qualification, this and that. They have no sense of peace about them. David met a sense of not needing anything else because God had been sufficient in Himself.

We need to find that stillness and that life of God. It doesn’t end. In verse 6 we read:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life”

And if we don’t go to the green pastures, that stillness won’t come to us. God wants us to come to those green pastures. If we don’t answer yes to God when He calls us, and turn our back on Him, He doesn’t always ask again. We have to commit to doing what the shepherd wants.

He wants us to lie down from time to time in the green pastures, where we are still. In that place He feeds us. In that place He looks after us. In that place a blessed life comes, a prosperous life, a Godly connected life comes. Not when we do our own thing in our own way.

By doing what the Good Shepherd says, our minds are still. The things of our lives are stilled. Then we are fed as we are before God. We are stilled in our mind. There is a sense of no want. What do we want more than this? There is an intimacy of God that comes. A closeness with God.

That’s all that people need to live on this earth. They don’t need the biggest TV, best car, or this and that. Intimacy with God is something that we all need. Closeness with God is something that we all need. If we achieve that, in the sense that David is talking of, then we shall not want.

If a person is intimate with God, that is all they need.

On the other hand, where does the absence of intimacy and closeness with God leave a person? It leads to distress, damage a person’s life, and damaging a person’s family. There is an effect that is felt and seen.

A closeness and intimacy with God brings us to a place where we are laying down, where we are still. Where He is our shepherd and we are not needing anything that the world can give us.

God’s love for us is unfailing. He satisfies every area of those who are His own. He is still our shepherd.

Intimacy with God. Closeness with God. He will bring us into that place where we shall not want.


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