In Green Pastures
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures….” (Psalm 23:1-2a).
The “green pastures” of the Lord are a great place to lie down. Paul Kretzmann, a reputable theologian, writes about these “…green pastures, where the meadows are lush with young, vigorous grass, where the best spiritual food is found in rich abundance” (Popular Commentary, Volume II, page 81). During this time of year, as the color green becomes more prominent, we witness lush, young, vigorous grass that nurtures many forms of life. Spiritual food in rich abundance is available in that which Christ builds, His Church, and is distributed in that which Christ has given for us to be nurtured spiritually, His Word and Sacraments.
Psalm 23 is the explanation of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. This places us as the vulnerable, dependent, beloved sheep. With this Good Shepherd “I shall not want,” all our needs are met. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6:26). This rhetorical question asked by the Good Shepherd is answered--yes. Psalm 23 assures us that our Good Shepherd is active in His care for us: “leads me beside still waters…restores my soul…leads me in paths of righteousness…rod and staff they comfort me…prepare a table…anoint my head…my cup overflows.” God is surely active in caring for His vulnerable, dependent, beloved Christians.
The above paragraph is missing the loving care identified in the first paragraph involving the green pastures. “He makes me lie down in green pastures….” The blessings of the green pastures identified above are surely loving care. However, there is a unique action concerning our Lord’s loving-care associated with these green pastures; “He makes me lie down….” The other actions are often associated with loving care “leads, restores, comfort, prepare, anoints.” Let us receive our Lord’s assertive, authoritarian, aggressive action of making us do such a wonderful thing for our own good.
As we are responsible for vulnerable, dependent, beloved pets, farm animals, and even fellow humans, we know that the most nurturing action sometimes involves making something happen. To not do so would be negligence, even abuse, of those we are entrusted to care for. However, the responses that ensue when animals or people are made to do something can be “fight or flight.” Biblically we witness “fight” when Pharaoh was made to let God’s people go. We witness “flight” as Jonah was being made to go to Nineveh. There are more Biblical and contemporary examples of “fight or flight” when facing God’s will. I have some and maybe you do also.
God’s will is that we “lie down in green pastures.” This is a passive action on our part; we receive the abundant good that God has for us. God’s vulnerable, dependent, beloved Christians are provided in rich abundance with God’s grace through what Christ builds, His Church, and through what He distributes, His Word and Sacraments.
The Lord be with you,