Trusting God

Psalm 23 – He makes me lie down in green pastures

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

One of my all-time favorite books is by W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Keller was born in East Africa and became the owner of Ewes through hard-earned cash. His first-hand experience with shepherding is why his book is so captivating. I love all his stories about his sheep and how they relate to each line in Psalm 23. In this blog post, I re-tell his stories from chapter three that pertain specifically to this line in Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

Keller begins the chapter with this statement:

“The strange thing about sheep is that because of their very makup it is almost impossible for them to be made to lie down unless four requirements are met.”

Here are the four conditions that must be met for sheep to lie down:

  1. Free from fear
  2. Free from friction with others of their kind.
  3. Free from the torment of parasites and flies.
  4. Free from hunger

Aren’t we all like sheep? Fear, tension, aggravation, and hunger keep us also from sleeping well at night or living in a state of calm and peace.

The owner/shepherd is the one who makes them lie down in green pastures. They cannot do this without his guidance and help. Left to themselves, sheep are unable to rest.

These are Keller’s words about the impact of his presence on the sheep.

“Whenever I came into view and my presence attracted their attention, the sheep quickly forgot their foolish rivalries and stopped their fighting. The shepherd’s presence made all the difference in their behavior.”

And he says:

“When my eyes are on my Master, they are not on those around me. This is the place of peace.”

How true!! Placing my faith in the work of Jesus and honoring His presence allows me to lie down in peace. On the contrary, focusing on everyone else and my problems lends to aggravation and unrest. Why, oh why, are there times I refuse to lie down? Because I’m not trusting in the Lord’s protection in my life.

Sometimes I am just like those sheep. Batting off flies, fearing coyotes or predators, gnawing at brown grass, and feeling irritable at my fellow sheep. However, like the sheep, I become calm when the shepherd enters the field. I know my Master will restore order, protect me from predators and lead me to the green grass.

Keller says that green pastures do not happen by chance. He had to put an incredible amount of effort and time into cultivating the land to produce the forage for the sheep. Once the sheep had their fill, they could lie down. An ill-fed sheep was ever on his feet. How true in our own lives. When our souls are unsatisfied, we are restless and ever on our feet. Hustling, trying to meet our own needs.

What pasture am I in? My own or the Master’s? My fields are brown and dry. There is no way I can compete with Jesus’s ability to cultivate green, lush fields. How fortunate I am to have a good shepherd. One who cares to lead me to a place where I can lie and rest. The amount of work a Shepherd has to put into providing these lush fields for his sheep helps me visualize how much effort Jesus puts into my place of rest with Him.  When I believe Jesus has my best interest in mind, I can escape that barren field of brown, dead grass and walk freely in green pastures.

I absolutely love this statement made by Keller in Chapter Three. What a good, good Shepherd I have.

How He works to clear the life of rocks of stony unbelief. How He tries to tear out the roots of bitterness. He attempts to break up the hard, proud human heart that is set like sun-dried clay. He then sows the seed of His own precious Word, which, if given half a chance to grow, will produce rich crops of contentment and peace. He waters this with the dews and rain of His own presence by the Holy Spirit. He tends and cares and cultivates the life, longing to see it become rich and green and production.”

My friend Kathy Hahn and I get together most Friday afternoons. She has walked me through the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12. Also, she has taught me how to sit with the Holy Spirit and ask him the truth about something in my life and embrace him as my advocate, counselor, and comforter. John 16:7

I now ask the Holy Spirit,

“Please counsel me in this situation.” And then I wait and listen.


 “Would you please advocate for me in this area of my life?”


 “Thank you for comforting me in my emotional pain.”

I am in my Shepherd’s presence in a green pasture when I acknowledge and communicate with the Holy Spirit. The overwhelming feeling of protection and love fills my heart. I say, “I will be alright.”

After reading chapter three of Keller’s book, A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23, my appreciation for this divinely inspired line in Psams 23 has grown immensely:

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of this tiny, precious book. It will help you visualize the beauty of Jesus being your good shepherd.

5 thoughts on “Psalm 23 – He makes me lie down in green pastures”

  1. Thank you for this perspective Diane! I agree our rest and peace comes from God alone. This is how I feel about my sabbath days. An opportunity to look at my shepherd only mutes evertthing around me and gives me peace. Only he can quiet the storms (fears) I have in my head. I agree how awesome it is to have a good, good shepherd.

    1. Yes! I love how Jesus mutes everything around us when we look at Him only.

  2. Diane, a brilliant blog as usual!! I love your perspective on this and I, too love this Psalm. I will definitely get the book!!

    1. I am so glad you will read this book. It has helped me so much in understanding how Jesus is my good shepherd.

Comments are closed.