Our continuing study of Psalm 23 leads us to the second verse: "He makes me lie down in green pastures." The NLT substitutes the word "lets" for makes. Green pastures are cool and relaxing (Can't you picture laying on your back on the grass when you were a kid growing up? Wasn't it a relaxing place to be?) The idea here is that our Shepherd gives us the opportunity to rest. We were designed to rest. We need rest. And when we are where we are supposed to be (green pastures) there are fewer issues that keep us from resting.
But what keeps us from laying down in those green pastures? There are several things that come to mind. First, fear keeps you from laying down. When you are alone you are vulnerable. You have to stay in community (in the sheep-fold). Then you can hear the voice of the Shepherd and know His Presence.
Friction - a competitive attitude - will keep you from laying down. Sheep tend to pick on weaker members of their flock. There can be a pecking order that is used to keep the sheep in line. But God has said that the weaker members of His flock are necessary (1 Corinthians 12:21-26). Our Shepherd often puts the weaker in authority to destroy the pecking order and reduce our friction.
Flies, those pests that bug the sheep, keep you from laying down. When we let little things bug us - eat at us - we are unable to rest. You need to allow the Shepherd to use the oil of His Spirit rid you of the little things that keep you from laying down.
Finally, well-fed sheep are able to lie down. A lack of food will keep you from being in the green pastures. Isn't that ironic? There is good food all around but you fail to eat. We have so many resources at our fingertips yet we are some of the most undernourished believers on the globe.
The Shepherd of our souls wants us to rest in His green meadows. He only makes you lie down when you love Him and listen to Him. Are you experiencing green pastures?