Psalm 23 is one of the most commonly used and familiar scripture passages used at funerals. It’s a chapter in the Bible that I have found solace in during times of sorrow and grief.
Over the last year, God deposited in my heart the need to pay particular attention to these verses. Rick and I experienced many changes over the last year, and thankfully, grief wasn’t one of them. It’s been a year of great joy. Nevertheless, I did as God instructed and included Psalm 23 into my daily Bible reading.
One morning Psalm 23:2 stood out. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Other translations of the Bible state, “he lets me lie down….”
Does God make us do anything? How I understand this is that God always makes a way for us. When God makes a way, he creates, he gives, he makes things happen. The wisdom of God paves the way for the Lord to do something in our lives that cannot be compared to anything that we can do for ourselves. Isaiah 43:16-18
I Thessalonians 5:23-24 states that God “makes us holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”
When my boys were toddlers I suffered for two years with mononucleosis. I was desperate to regain my physical health and vitality, but month-after-month I saw no progress.
My doctor instructed me numerous times to stop everything and rest. “The only way to heal is to get plenty of rest,” he repeated. I knew what I needed to do, but it was difficult for me to forego responsibilities and do what was necessary for physical restoration.
Months passed, all the while pleading to God for healing. God made a way for total restoration, but I wasn’t willing to “lie down in green pastures.”
I have no doubt had I listened and followed through on my doctor’s instructions early on I would have experienced healing sooner. My doctor tried to make me do what he knew was best, but he couldn’t make me do anything that I wasn’t willing to do. I chose the long road, which prolonged my fatigue and sickness. I suffered for it and so did my family.
There was another period in my life when I was seeking the Lord in worship and praise, wanting to learn more about the spiritual things of God. My heart longed to gain wisdom, insight, and revelation to know him more.
One morning the Lord told me to stop watching a specific television series. I didn’t want to. (Sadly, there are too many times I am a disobedient child of God. I’m so thankful for his grace and patience with me.)
Day-after-day I worshipped, praised, and prayed this prayer. God said the same thing, “stop watching your series.” For nine months I knew in my heart I was supposed to turn the channel, but I was purposefully disobedient.
I kept praying the same thing and during this time I wasn’t recognizing that God was making a way for me to hear him with more clarity. Nevertheless, in the midst of my disobedience, God didn’t give up on me. He kept pushing me to make the decision, but sadly, what he was asking me to do wasn’t what I considered to be insightful, spiritual revelation.
When I finally denied my fleshly desires, there was a change in my spirit that gave room for a greater infilling of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 33:3 states “Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Lord, tell me marvelous and wondrous things that I could never figure out on my own. MSG
Deuteronomy 29:29 states “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.” I desire to know the secrets of God’s heart. I want to be used for him and I know to do so comes with greater revelation; his secrets and his wisdom.
There is a constant battle to fight the noise around me, including my own voice. I need to ask God what barriers I’ve erected that prevent me from distinguishing his voice above all others. I can break down the walls of meaningless chatter simply by following God to sit “beside peaceful streams.”
God has prepared a feast for each of us to discover the spiritual blessings of God. It’s in his presence. Psalm 23:5 (Revelation is in the Waiting)
I think it’s necessary for all Christians to ask God how we can detach ourselves from the things around us that are hindering spiritual sight. God may ask you to give something up that appears insignificant, but if we sit long enough in his presence, it’s easier to keep our spiritual eyes and ears wide open.
When we ask and obey, we are saying, “Lord, rule over everything in my life.” However, if we pray one thing and do another, we’re ruling over our lives. The paths we create; hinders an increase of spiritual insight and revelation.
God will continue to ask me to give things up that may appear insignificant, but when it comes to the things of God, nothing is without meaning and purpose.
Don’t be like me and ignore what God is trying to make you do. Adhere to his instructions and know that with obedience comes an outpouring of the Spirit of wisdom. Desiring the ways of the Lord, instead of our own, is living a life worthy of our calling by God. Ephesians 4:1
Take time to reflect on Psalm 23 and visualize each verse as though you were watching yourself in a movie. If you are familiar with Psalm 23, be careful you aren’t reading the words on autopilot. It’s easy to do, especially with verses we’ve put to memory.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
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
Don’t reserve Psalm 23 for the day when sorrows and trials hit. Let these promises be a model how to approach each day. Start each day living the life where, The Lord is your Shepherd and there is nothing more that you need than him. Let him make you lie down and make the decision to stop and listen.
The Lord be with you.
Stream and tree by MichaelVines