“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 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 goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psa. 23).
Today, as we continue our study of Psalms 23, we will look at “He leads me beside still waters.” David, the writer of the Psalm, had just stated that God, the shepherd of his life, would make him lie down in green pastures. What he meant by that was that God would direct him to the best opportunities in life and would be that “safe space” amidst the chaos of life. He now continues by saying that in God, there is peace. “Still waters” in no way depicts a raging torrent. When you think of it, you picture a slow-moving stream, possibly meandering through a beautiful, lush meadow on a sunny afternoon. Most of us have heard of or have an app on our phone with soothing sounds, and almost without exception, a babbling brook will be one of the options.
My wife and I like to cycle the length of a bicycle path that spans our town and the next. It makes its way through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. The path runs through a hillside so thick with trees that they provide a green canopy that almost looks like a “tree tunnel.” It then runs adjacent to a lake with beautiful islands and a background of untouched mountains. We appreciate that, and it “never gets old,” but the one place we always stop at is a stream the bike path follows for a short distance. The sound of the water lazily running over rock and pebbles is truly soothing to the soul. No matter how tired we are at that point, the beauty and serenity of the moment makes the trip worth every minute of punishing exercise. Sometimes we get “lost in our thoughts” for a few minutes, amazed at the beauty of the things of God before pushing on to the goal of reaching the end of the trail, refreshed and encouraged once again.
Such is a life filled with the glorious presence of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Not only does the Lord or our lives, the shepherd who guides our every step, take us to where the best opportunities are, but He also provides a peaceful place of rest. Life can be daunting, even excruciatingly difficult at times, as one trial after another seems to want to pummel our spirits, but when we discover the peace of God, all that does not matter as much anymore. Matt. 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” When things get overwhelming, our shepherd provides the peace and tranquility that allows us to focus without distractions. Then, without realizing it, our spirits are lifted, and we are empowered to push on through the storm and reach the sunlight once again.
But there is more to the still water than just rest. As the refreshing water of a stream quenches our thirst and provides life-giving sustenance, so do the pure waters of the spiritual stream. When Jesus asked the woman at the well for water, she questioned why He, a Jew, would ask a Samaritan for water. Jesus said to her, “…If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water’” (John 4:10). When we find ourselves in the deserts of life, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually beaten down, tired, dejected, at our wit’s end, He is there. If we ask, He will hand us the living water that provides not only immediate relief but also prepares us for an eternity where thirst will never be again. If you haven’t availed yourself of the peace and sustenance of the “still waters” yet, you should do so now – you won’t be disappointed.