Green Pastures and Quiet Waters

The bodies were lying in the streets un-buried. All railroads and vessels carrying food and such things into the great city had ceased runnings and mobs of the hungry poor pillaging.


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Green Pastures and Quiet Waters

IIn a similar vein, around 1000 BC, Israel’s King David composed his most famous work—Psalm 23. Many of us know how it begins: “The Lord is my shepherd.” I’ve read or recited that psalm hundreds of times over the years, but I recently noticed something I hadn’t observed before.

Why did David say, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters”? Why must the shepherd—David’s reference to God—“make” and “lead” him to do things that seem desirable, even idyllic? Did David not want peace, beauty, rest?

While scholars of ancient Hebrew history aren’t certain what was happening in King David’s life when he wrote this psalm, what is known about his life, in general, is that he had enemies near and far.

We also know that as a result of these many enemies, David was frequently on the run, either chasing off an enemy or running from one.

David’s reference to God—“make” and “lead” him to do things that seem desirable

While there are certainly accounts of David enjoying the benefits of being a king, his life was busy and burdened. In numerous other psalms, he admits to being exhausted and demoralized. 

While we aren’t ancient Israeli kings constantly fending off giant and regular-size adversaries, we can relate to King David’s feelings of exhaustion and demoralization.

Most of all, we can relate to needing someone to make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside quiet waters.

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