Psalm 23 2 Meaning: Psalm 23:1 establishes the theme of the psalm which is God’s Pastoral Provisions. And now through the rest of this psalm David leads us through several areas of life where this rings true – where God’s Pastoral Provisions appear in the life of a believer. Let’s see this in verse 2.
2 He [maketh me to lie down in/takes me to] [green/lush] pastures:
he leadeth me [beside/to] [the still/quiet/refreshing] waters.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: Maketh me to Lie Down
When David says that God makes him lie down, he’s not communicating the idea of force. He’s not saying that God forces him to lie down. The parallel word is leadeth. God takes his sheep to green pastures. He gently leads us there.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: Green Pastures
And what do literal sheep find in green or lush pastures? Well, if the sheep are lying down – as David says – then they could be doing two things. First, they could be resting on the soft green grass. Second they could be eating the tasty green grass. And likely David is picturing himself as the sheep doing both things – resting and eating.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: Still Waters
The dynamics are similar in the second line of verse 2. Only we’re not focusing on green grass. We’re picturing a quiet, gentle stream. When David speaks of still waters we can get the wrong picture. When we think of still waters we might picture in our minds a stagnant motionless pond. But that’s not what’s in David’s mind. He’s picturing a stream of water that is restful, comfortable, quiet. Not turbulent and swift and dangerous. It’s been said that sheep won’t drink from a stream whose water is swift and whose current is fast-moving.
So, much like the first line of verse 2, the second line paints a picture for us of rest and quiet and calm. But instead of food in the form of grass now David is thinking of water.
In other words, God provides food and water and rest for his people. As much as he knows we need. And as often as he knows we need it.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: Food, Drink, and Peace in Your Life
And doesn’t that ring true in your life? How many of us have an absolute abundance of food and drink? I think we all do. How many of us have ever gone hungry for more than a few hours at a time? I think the number would be relatively small.
Or think about water. We have access to an abundance of clean water. This is not the case in much of the world.
So, when we sit down for lunch or grab a slurp of water at the water fountain here in this building, we would honor God by reflecting on his pastoral provision for us.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: From Our God or Our Country?
And those two things – food and drink – just kind of come naturally for us because we are living in a land of abundance in America. So, I think it’s that third area – rest/calm/peace – where we as American Christians can really see a difference in our lives as a result of God’s Pastoral Provisions.
There might be an abundance of food and drink in America, but I think we can all testify to the near-total lack of calm in this nation. Inner peace doesn’t come naturally to most Americans. And so that’s where God’s Pastoral Provision really shines in our lives.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: For Christians
Who here can testify to the peace that Jesus brought to you when you first trusted him? Who can attest to the peace he gives over and over as we cast our cares upon him? Only the Lord our shepherd can give the peace and calm that he knows we as his sheep so desperately need.
Psalm 23 2 Meaning: In Relation to Verse 3
And that food and drink and peace that the Lord gives leads to what we see in verse 3 on our Psalm 23 3 Commentary article.