The fourth in the series on Psalm 23.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
What’s the most tired you’ve ever been?
For me, it was the night of the birth of our first child. It was all going a bit wrong. We were both exhausted (don’t worry, I completely get that Anna was more tired than I was!). I’ve never struggled so much to function (though it probably wasn’t just a result of tiredness, to be fair). Sure, there was that one ‘all night of prayer’ at uni, where I stayed up through the night and eventually went to sleep at about five in the afternoon. But that was pure lack of sleep, it wasn’t anything more than that. It wasn’t a sort of physical exhaustion, it was just a need for sleep.
But you only have to miss a single night of sleep to discover that it’s really quite important. I read an article online (from the Guardian) about sleep that’s quite interesting (the article’s interesting, not sleep. Well, sleep’s kind of interesting but, oh, I’m sure you get it). The author writes:
…you’re almost definitely not getting enough sleep. Barely any of us are. According to the British Sleep Council, if you don’t sleep for at least six hours a night, you’re 12% more likely to die young. Lack of sleep can trigger a range of health problems. It can give you heart disease. It can give you diabetes. It can make you obese. It can ruin your concentration, your memory and your youthful good looks in one fell swoop.
And this Psalm talks about us getting rest. Lying down in green pastures. There are a couple of useful points to make here. First, Israel is not as verdant as dear old England. We have lots of green grass because water falls out of our sky all the time. It can be a bit harder finding a patch of green pasture in dry and dusty lands. It often requires someone to have irrigated and cultivated. It requires time, effort and care. So if the shepherd has made us lie down in green pastures, he may well have had a hand in making the pasture as green as it is.