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Welcome to volume two of the Psalm 23 study! We’ll be picking up with the second part of verse two.
Psalm 23, Verse 2
“He leads me beside the still waters.”
In the second part of verse two, King David continues on to describe another action of Jehovah as Shepherd over his life. Upon first reading this passage, we easily gather that David is being led to a place next to waters that are calm and still. However, as we saw in the previous volume of this study, there is much more to discover about these verses when we look at the original text. So, let’s take a deeper look.
“He leads me beside the still waters.”
“leads” - nahal (Hebrew transliteration) – v. 1) to lead with care; 2) to give rest; 3) to refresh (as with food)
1) To Lead With Care
As we look at this first definition of “lead,” we find that our heavenly Shepherd guides His sheep and directs us in the way that He wants us to go. Not only does he guide us, but he does so with patience and gentleness, insuring that we are safe and in good condition. This reinforces some of the things that we discovered in volume one of the study. Here again we see that God is not using force against His sheep to make us comply. Instead, He leads with a gentle hand of protection. His actions are borne from love and we as His sheep should respond in loving obedience. This loving interaction is the very nature of the Shepherd/sheep relationship.
2) To Give Rest
When thinking of how we use the word “lead” from day to day, this particular definition may seem a little odd. We normally do not associate leading with giving someone rest. However, when you consider the first passage of verse two (“He makes me to lie down…”), we find that God’s leading in this second part is simply a continuation of the peaceful rest that we discovered in the first passage. Though He is leading, and as His sheep we are engaged in the act of following, we are still at rest as we do so. Only through God can we accomplish being in action AND being at rest at the same time!
This sort of active rest is just one of the benefits of being under the yoke of God. (See Matthew 11:30) As His submitted sheep/followers, we allow God to use His authority and power to lead the way while we remain at rest in Him. Does that mean that we never take action? No, not at all. It simply means that we do not try to plot our own paths nor do we run ahead of God and try to forge our way with our own strength. The Shepherd goes first for a reason! It is His job to clear the path of obstacles that can harm His sheep and to scare off any vicious animals waiting to attack. When we get anxious, or leave our state of rest to run ahead of God, we put ourselves in danger.
3) To Refresh (as with food)
So far, we have discovered that the Shepherd’s leading involves His gentle, loving guidance and peaceful rest for His sheep/followers. In this final definition of “lead,” we find yet another benefit – a refreshing! To refresh means “to give new strength; to reinvigorate,” but this particular reinvigoration involves God feeding His sheep as a part of His leading. What does this mean exactly? Consider John 6:25 – “Jesus replied, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more (at any time).” (Amplified) Here we see that Jesus is our bread so as He leads us, we are feeding on Him!
We know that we are not literally eating his flesh, but rather we are being refreshed, strengthened, and reinvigorated by His love, grace, joy, wisdom and all the other attributes of His righteousness. Here is where we begin to really understand that our Christian journey is just as important as our final destination. Yes, there are many wonderful blessings waiting for us at the place where God is leading us to, but being able to partake of His fullness on the way there is an invaluable gift. Take time to enjoy the Lord as He is leading you!