Green Pastures and Still Waters
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. —Psalm 23:1-3
The familiar phrase, “He restores my soul,” is actually a statement of conclusion. In other words, green pastures and still waters are the way God restores our soul. We need our souls restored.
Let’s look at the phrase. The literal translation is He causes my life to return. The word restore means replenish, to return to its original state. Restoring my soul means God keeps me going. He gives the enjoyment of life back to me. Notice it’s not some general or physical restoration; “He restores my soul.” Soul is a very important word in the Bible. The Hebrew term nephesh can be translated soul, life, heart, or mind. And all the time, it’s that same word, nephesh. This is the same term used in Genesis 2:7 to describe what happened when God breathed into the clay figure He had made—“The man became a living creature.” Soul refers to the immaterial part of man that will survive beyond this life.
So, if God continually “restores my soul,” how does He do it? First, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” In Hebrew “green pastures” literally means the tender grass. In sheep terms, it’s the best grass has to offer. It’s rich, lush feeding places from which the sheep need never move to be satisfied. Green pastures represent for us the bread of life that is God’s Word. It provides all the nourishment we need, and we need it continually.
Those who really know God also know He “makes” us lie down sometimes. We’re not smart enough or willing enough to do many things for our own good—but our Shepherd does what He needs to do to get us where we need to be—in green pastures—where He can restore our souls.
Second, “He leads me beside still waters.” God says, What are you doing over there? C’mon over here. This is where the water is quiet. This is where you can be refreshed. My living water is deep and plentiful. And it restores your soul. Sheep are scared by troubled waters and so are we. God provides the still waters of thirst-quenching drinks of His presence that can satisfy your deepest longings every time you turn to Him. Notice the word beside. This isn’t some down-to-the-river-and-out experience. Beside the still waters is where you can live your life. This isn’t a weekly or a monthly thing. This is a daily thing. You’re walking with Christ beside still waters, drinking in His presence. You are alone with Him. You’re not thinking about the time. It’s quiet. And He restores you.
Christ does want to make you lie down in green pastures and lead you beside still waters. Are you letting Him restore your soul?
Lord, I thank You now and always for Your faithful work in restoring my soul. Your mercies are new every morning, and I need them! Thank You for scouting out the green pastures and still waters I need in my life and then for leading me to them, even when I was reluctant to follow. You always know when my soul needs restoring and You do what’s needed to get me there. Please accept the gratefulness of this sheep, in Jesus’ name, Amen.