What is your favorite food? According to Google, the most popular food in America is a hamburger… followed by hot dogs, french fries, Oreo cookies, and pizza.

What about the favorite food of Presidents? George Washington liked mushroom ketchup. Thomas Jefferson liked Mac & Cheese. Franklin Roosevelt liked grilled cheese. John Kennedy liked clam chowder. Richard Nixon liked meatloaf. Ronald Reagan like jelly beans. George W. Bush liked cheeseburger pizza. Bill Clinton liked chicken enchiladas. Donald Trump liked steak.

What about green grass? Though it is not too appetizing to you and me, it is exactly what a sheep wants to eat. When the Lord is your Shepherd He will make you “lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). What does this mean?

Provision – My needs are met.

According to Philip Keller, sheep will not lie down unless four requirements are met. One of those is that they are free of hunger. One of the primary duties of a shepherd is to feed his sheep. Once fed, they will lie down. For a Christian, our food is the Word of God. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). The Bible is our soul food.

The picture David is trying to help us see is not a sheep grazing, but a sheep lying down. The sheep has already eaten and is content to lie down. Sheep belong to the ruminant class of animals. Like deer and cattle, sheep have stomachs to store the food then later lie down to regurtitate and rechew at their leisure. Then they reswallow over and again until they are able to digest the grass. It can occupy a sheep for several hours a day.

For the Christian this is called meditation. Like sheep, we need to chew on God’s Word over and over again. Not just reading the Bible, but thinking and pondering and praying about it over and over.

Green pastures were not the natural terrain of Judea. Even today, the hills around Bethlehem are white with stone and dry. Any green pasture is the work of a shepherd who has cleared the rocks, cultivated the land and irrigated a crop of grasses. Jesus, our Shepherd, has given us green pastures in our Bible for those who care to move into them. We will find peace and plenty. Too often we fill up on the “junk food” of the world rather than feast on the nutritious soul food of God’s Word. I hope you will eat and meditate on His Word.

 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” – Joshua 1:8

Peace – My mind is content.

Philip Keller mentions three other situations that will keep a sheep from lying down: enemies, other sheep, and torment of flies or parasites. A shepherd will protect the sheep against wolves. A shepherd will stop sheep from fighting with one another. A shepherd will apply an ointment to keep the flies from bugging the sheep. Often just the presence of the shepherd will calm the sheep down. He trusts the shepherd will take care of Him and can relax in His presence.

Our Shepherd (Jesus) wants us to lie down. Rest is an important value to God for His people. It is so important that He makes them lie down. Think about it, God puts a day of rest on the same level as not murdering and not stealing (see 10 Commandments). So don’t feel guilty about rest.

An anxious sheep is always on its feet, on the move and will not lie down. Too much is on his mind. Often the reason we are always on the go is because we have an unsatisfied heart. We trade God’s peace for things that the world offers that do not satisfy. But if we will keep our mind on our Shepherd and realize He is near, we won’t panic or pace. We will find rest.

 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29)

God did not create a world for you in which He is not necessary. If He is not your shepherd and your heart is not following Him, you will forever be fearful, anxious, and busy. Until the presence of your Shepherd is all you want, no person, place or thing will ever satisfy you.

Nothing so quiets or reassures a sheep as much as seeing the shepherd in the field. The presence of the shepherd puts the sheep at peace. When he is near they don’t fear… they don’t fight. They simply lay down in peaceful slumber. When the Lord is your Shepherd, you can relax and rest.

 “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

Jesus is watching over you. He knows what has been bugging you. He knows what keeps you awake at night. He will protect and guard you. This doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times, or enemies, or even “the valley of the shadow of death.” It means that you can relax because He is your Shepherd. Faith is the margin between your need and His action. Trust Him.

If Jesus is your Shepherd, you have provision – your needs will be met.

If Jesus is your Shepherd, you have peace – your mind can be content.

What can you do?

  1. Every morning, eat a good, slow spiritual “breakfast.” An old Quaker saying is, “Begin small and start promptly.” Keep it simple and just be alone with God and His Word. Talk to Him about your day.
  2. Meditate on Psalm 23. I guarantee you will never lose the flavor or nutrition no matter how much you chew on this poem. It will always leave you wanting more. Augustine once said, “I have tasted Thee, and now I hunger for Thee.”
  3. Spend some quiet time to just relax. Quiet solitude is a healing place. God can repair the damage done by the noise and pressure of the world.
  4. Make the LORD your Shepherd. He has already provided a green pasture for you. Simply trust Jesus as your personal Savior and He will lead you.

A farmer repeatedly invited his neighbor to come over to his orchard and pick some apples and make fresh, sweet apple cider. The neighbor kept turning down the offer. Finally, the farmer asked why the neighbor didn’t want to come to his orchard. The neighbor said, “Well, to tell the truth, I have tasted a few of them and they are very sour.” The farmer asked, “Which apples have you eaten?” The neighbor answered, “Those apples alongside the fence by the road.” The farmer said, “Ah, yes—those are sour. I planted them to fool the boys who live around here. But if you will come into the middle of my orchard, you will find a different taste.” In much the same way, people who only nibble on the outside of Christianity only get a taste of conviction of sin, purity, and denial of self. All they see are fuddy-duddies and goody-two-shoes who don’t have any fun. Those apples were planted to keep out the hypocrites and curiosity seekers. Christ is interested in people making a commitment—a whole hearted, jump-in-with- both-feet commitment to follow Him. But once you come to Christ, the fruit is sweet. The nearer to God; the sweeter the joy.