Summer ought to be a season when we’re able to rest well—a time we can spend with the Lord and His goodness. But, oftentimes, we actually fall out of healthy spiritual habits and end up trying to rest from the Lord instead of resting in Him.
That’s why we’ve created the Summer Selah Series. Over 40 days, we’ll be sharing daily devotions during a season where you may not feel very devoted.
Based on excerpts from his book Selah: Devotions From The Psalms For Those Who Struggle With Devotion, Ross Lester, our Pastor of Preaching and West Congregation Pastor, will provide readings from select Psalms, a brief devotional reflection, and some prayer points for each of the 40 days.
Take some time to read Psalm 23. It is very familiar to many of us, so take the time to read it slowly and thoughtfully.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.” (Psalm 23 ESV)
The Bible talks about sheep a lot, and they are often the animal of choice when metaphorically describing mankind. “All we like sheep have gone astray …” (Isaiah 53:6 ESV). “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 ESV).
Psalm 23 again notes that we are like sheep, but that we have a good shepherd in God. I used to think that this was very endearing. I could understand why we print this Psalm on coffee cups and bookmarks to encourage us. We are like little fluffy lambs. That seemed like a very sweet way to refer to people.
A few years ago though, my wife Sue and I had the wonderful opportunity to stay on a working sheep farm in Wales for a couple of days. My understanding of sheep changed completely. They are the dumbest and most helpless of all animals. They can literally do nothing for themselves. If they aren’t herded to new pastures by a dog and a shepherd, they won’t go. If they aren’t sheared by a shearer, then their wool will grow larger and larger and heavier and heavier until they fall over and can’t get up and get pecked to death by ravens. They are utterly helpless.
Tasty to be sure, but helpless.
Psalm 23 suggests that we are the same. We cannot help ourselves, and our efforts to do so often end up with more destructive results. Fortunately, we have a loving and caring shepherd who looks after us.
He makes me lie down, because I don’t know how to rest. He leads me to living water, because I don’t know how to find real sustenance. He guides me on the right path, because without Him I would get hopelessly lost. He protects me from danger, because I am oblivious to the threat.
I am nothing but a dumb sheep, but He is a truly wonderful shepherd. He does it all, not just for me, but “for His name’s sake”, and I am totally fine with that. Thank God that He doesn’t leave me to own devices. I would fall over and be raven food.
Father God, I acknowledge that I am totally dependent on You for everything that I need. Forgive me for the way that I stray and the ways in which I try to live without Your leading me. Teach me to lie down and to enjoy the green pastures that You provide for me.
Ross Lester, Selah: Devotions From The Psalms For Those Who Struggle With Devotion (Magnolia, Texas: Lucid Books, 2017)