A number of years ago, Focus on the Family Films released an eye-opening video series entitled That the World May Know, hosted by historian and scholar Ray Vander Laan. Ray does a masterful job transporting us to the actual places where the stories of the Bible took place. Filmed on location in Israel, Ray offers “faith lessons” from the Holy Lands.
One of the things I like most about Ray is how he challenges my Western way of viewing the metaphors and events of scripture. Take Psalm 23, for example. That’s the familiar passage in which King David talks about God leading us into “green pastures.” As a westerner, when I picture “green pastures” I quickly image a rolling field or meadow covered with luxurious Kentucky bluegrass swaying in the soft morning breeze.
Guess what? When taken in the context of what David experienced, the reality of his green pastures is a far cry from what I’ve either been taught or assumed. As Ray points out, what David is referring to in Psalm 23 is not something lush. It’s something sparse; and while it’s sparse, it is sufficient provision.
You see, in Israel their fields are dry and rocky stretches of hillside where very little grows. When the rains fall or when the dew settles on the land, tender shoots of grass push their way up and out of the crusty earth.
Shepherds in those parts bring their sheep to these “pastures” to graze and refresh themselves on this modest provision. While green pastures are not some sort of an extravagant buffet of sustenance, they do provide enough of a meal to carry the flock through the day. Isn’t that a very different picture than what you might have embraced? It seems to please God to provide me with what I need for today.
And you know what? I think that’s a good thing because being dependant on Him for my daily bread keeps me returning to Him for provision day by day. After all, isn’t that what Jesus taught His disciples to pray? “Give us this day our daily bread.” I’ve found that this relationship of trusting God for my needs removes the anxiety of worrying about what might happen in the future. Now, when I reread Psalm 23 and hear David talking about the Lord leading him into green pastures, I have a renewed appreciation for the way the Lord provides for my daily necessities.
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