Psalm 23, continued
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still
Psalm 23:2, NKJV
In my studying of this passage and the tendencies of sheep I’ve come across some very interesting facts. Because of the anatomy of a sheep it is almost impossible for them to lie down unless four requirements are met.
1. Sheep are extremely timid animals and because of this they refuse to lie down unless they are completely free from fear of any kind.
2. Sheep are social animals. If there is any friction amongst the flock they are unable to lie down and rest.
3. If not properly taken care of it is very easy for sheep to contract parasites and be bothered by flies; when this happens, they will not lie down.
4. Sheep are grazing animals- meaning they constantly graze a pasture filling up their bellies. A good shepherd will have led his sheep to pastures where their bellies can be filled to overflow. A sheep will not lie down if his belly is empty; he will persistently be in search of something to fill him up.
For sheep to lie down and rest, they must be free from fear and worry from outside entities, there must be no anxiety and friction amongst the flock, there must be no irritations from within, and they must not be hungry which could lead to the pursuit of any number of things to fill their bellies with, of which most will not be good for them. It is important for us to note here that only the shepherd can calm the heart of his sheep freeing him from the influences of others and enabling him to lie down in peace and rest. Today, let’s look more into how a sheep handles fear and worry.
When I was in middle school, my family and I lived way out in the country, and when I say country I mean dirt road, no neighbors on our side of the road for miles, critters of all kinds, kind of country. In conversation one day with Mr. Howard, a deacon in our church, I mentioned how I would love to have a baby sheep, a lamb that was just a few days old that I could feed with a bottle and call my very own. Well, much to my surprise and much more to the surprise of my parents, not too long after that conversation came a knock on the front door and Mr. Howard standing there with a three day old lamb. I named my bouncing bundle of energy Sammy. He was so cute. I gave him baths in the kitchen sink, made diapers for him so he could stay in the house, let him sleep in my bed, and carried him around like he was my baby. He traveled with us many different places and was privileged to join us for Christmas vacation to visit family, because after all he was one of us.
As with most sheep, Sammy was very timid and ran away from things that scared him. Not only would he run away, but he would run away in panic mode baaing loudly in fear searching frantically for me. I remember times when he would be grazing in the yard and get too close to the azalea bushes; a little bug would fly out of the bush, scare him half to death, and send him running for his life. Any unexpected noise would startled him, whether it be from something right beside him or from far off, he would run away from the unfamiliar. Sammy would continue running from whatever it was that had scared him, sometimes even in circles, until he heard my voice. It was not until he heard my voice calling out his name and our eyes met that he would relax. Knowing that I was close by dispelled his fears and calmed his nervous heart.
Friends, you and I live in a world of uncertainties and unknowns. We don’t know what tomorrow holds; we don’t know what kinds of things will greet us in the next hours of this day or even in the next minute. One thing we can know, though, and be sure of is that we have a Good Shepherd who is right there with us calling us by name, ready to calm our hearts and take away those fears and worries that so often times send us running for our lives. With my little lamb Sammy, it made all the difference in the world for him to know that I was there, there for him to run to and know, without fail, that I would pick him up in my arms and gently whisper in his ear, “you’re ok, little Sammy, I’ve got you.”
I don’t know about you, but it makes all the difference in the world for me to know that when the storms are raging around me and something unexpected has jumped from within the bush to scare the living daylights out of me, my Good Shepherd has already knelt down for me to run into His arms in order to lift me above the fears and the worries and then whisper softly in my ear, “it’s ok, little one, I’ve got you.”
Is your heart panicked today? Has the enemy jumped from within the bush and scared you half to death? Has worry so consumed you that you can’t even rest? Little lamb, your Shepherd is calling out your name right now. Stop where you are. Turn to Him and run as fast as you can into His arms and allow Him to lift you above whatever it is that has caused your heart to fear and hear His gentle voice whisper softly in your ear, “it’s ok, little one, I’ve got you.”
“He will lead His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the
lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom,and gently lead those who are with young.”
Isaiah 40:11, NKJV