Let’s continue to amplify the focus of Psalm 23: Knowing the Good Shepherd Personally. There are two reasons the Psalmist gives for declaring, “I will not be in want.”
The first reason he gives is in the form of an affirmation about how the Shepherd cares and provides for those with whom He has a personal relationship. This affirmation is fourfold.
First, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” This could be viewed as the shepherd providing food for the well-being of the sheep. He knows where the best pastureland is to be found, and he knows how to get there. If Isaiah’s description of sheep is accurate, they tend to go astray by choosing their own way (Isaiah 53:6). Since the shepherd knows what is best for them, he makes his sheep go there.
Another reason could be, the sheep might be going here and there without stopping to get nourished. We are like those sheep, going astray, busily going our own way, never satisfied with what our shepherd provides for us. There are times he might just need to get us by the scruff of our neck and make us lie down in green pastures.
He can do this directly or indirectly. He can set up roadblocks, as God said through the prophet in Hosea 2:6, “I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.” Or God can allow us to be stressed out by our fretful scurrying here and there. Or He might just allow us to be caught in the crossfire of circumstances.
When we are stressed or bewildered, He then persuades us to lie down in green pastures and get some rest and nourishment. That’s the kind of shepherd all of us need.