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Psalm 23: Green Pastures?

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures …” Psalm 23:1

Pastures in Israel are not as they are in Europe or the mid-western United States.  The environment is grass that is in a rocky, desert-like wilderness.  When David wrote about lying down in green pastures it was not a comfortable bed of green, but a sparse patch that he and his sheep could rest upon.

Even during the rainy season, the grass that did grow was short in the shade of rocks where moisture was captured.  The more grass, the more rocks.  To lie down in these green pastures in that region took work and imagination. 

Yet David said he lacked nothing from his Shepherd, the Lord.  In other words, he had all he needed.  Even in the desert the Lord provided all that was needed to keep the sheep fed, watered, and flourishing.  This was David’s understanding of a green pasture. 

We receive images from commercials and television showing us someone else’s vision of the perfect life. Perfect neighborhoods, safe schools, and fulfilling jobs. However, life very rarely puts us in this situation.

As a society, we have progressively marked our happiness by comparing our relative wealth to those around us. Modern psychologists have identified the phenomenon of “keeping up with the Jones” as one of the principle roots of our unhappiness.

Everyone has a different conception of the “green pastures” in their life. Yet whatever our situation, can we claim, like David, to lack nothing?