He makes me lie down in green pastures… (Psalm 23:2a)
In this week’s small group Bible study, we discussed the 23rd Psalm, and the imagery of a shepherd leading his sheep. In the accompanying video, speaker Ray Vander Laan explained that our picture of the green pastures mentioned in Scripture are not the same as what we typically imagine. Here’s an explanation from his website:
Many Westerners think of the “green pastures” mentioned in Psalm 23 as tall, lush grasslands like those in North America. But such pastures don’t exist in Israel.
The regions in Israel where shepherds live are predominantly wilderness areas. They have two seasons: the rainy season from November through March (when even the desert becomes green), and the dry season from April through October when the landscape is brown.
Even during the rainy season, the wilderness grasses remain short. Blades of grass grow in the shade of rocks, where moisture is trapped. At first glance, the “green pastures” of Israel look like a barren, rocky wasteland. But each day, a few blades of grass grow and there is enough to nourish the flocks for another day.
Sheep that graze in the wilderness receive enough nourishment for the moment—but no more. Day to day, the sheep depend on their shepherd to lead them to “green pastures” and water they need.
In the video, Vander Laan pointed out that, just as the shepherd leads his sheep to the nourishment they need at that particular time, likewise, God gives us what we need at the moment, and not more. We should not worry about where God will lead us tomorrow, or next week. Instead, we should trust Him to provide for us in every moment, knowing that He will move us on to the next “green pasture” at the right time.
That was a powerful reminder to me that I too often worry about what happens next, or how God’s going to come through for me in the future, rather than focusing on the here and now. I hope that you are likewise encouraged to trust Him for your “green pastures” today!