1 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. (NIV)
He refreshes my soul. The Great Shepherd leads me to green pastures and quiet waters to refresh my soul. Life can be draining. The weight of so many issues press down upon our hearts, mind, and soul. We need to be refreshed.
He brings us out of the valley into the green pastures. The valleys fatigue our souls. Following the Shepherd will ensure our way out back to the quiet waters in the calm. There we rest.
It is a beautiful scene the Spirit has painted for us in this beloved psalm. But how do we paint ourselves into this portrait when our soul is downcast? How do we follow the Shepherd to the place of refreshing when our soul wearies of trudging through life’s valleys?
The word ‘refresh’ comes from an original word that means ‘turn back.’ Our souls are refreshed when we turn back to Him. We need to rest in His presence. When life stomps our souls, we must turn our eyes to the Lord in prayer, meditation, and worship. The Shepherd not only leads us to the place of refreshing. He is the place of refreshing.
He is the Word of God. His are the words of life, and there is no other source. To turn back, we must also learn to listen to Him. He speaks out of His creation. The green grass reminds us that He is our Provider. The waters tell a story of the peace He gives. The written word, like a salve, heals the wounds of untruths inflicted upon us by others in the valley. He reminds us whose we are. Through Scripture, His voice booms affirmation where others criticize.
In these, we also turn back to His law. David would write in another psalm, “The law is perfect, refreshing the soul.” Turning back to Him is to return our behavior in obedience to His perfect path of behavior and thought for every circumstance. As we live out His way in our life, we see the Shepherd and the law are one and the same. Adherence to His wisdom cools the tongue and wets the lips from the dry places where there is no love.
These are the ways we turn back to place ourselves in the serenity of this psalm, no longer an admirer of what the Shepherd is able to do but a participant drinking deeply in the waters of calm in the green pastures of His goodness.
Prayer: Lord, help me to ritually turn back to you. You are my Stream in a dry and thirsty land. Amen.