The fourth and last reason a sheep will not lie down is hunger. They must be free from hunger to rest. If they are hungry, they will pace around looking for anything to satisfy their gnawing hunger. Their hunger drives them to a state of discontentment and dissatisfaction.
It sounds like a normal procedure for a shepherd to provide green pastures for their sheep. However, it is anything but easy. Most regions that are known for sheep herding are semi-arid. They are dry and barren. A shepherd has to know how to cultivate the ground to provide the best fields for their sheep. They have to remove rocks, pull up dead roots, cultivate and irrigate the land, plant grains, and care for the forage. Lambs need rich milk to grow and nursing ewes need green grass for milk production. Without green grass, the flock will be weak, thin, and unhealthy.
In the Old Testament we see how God provided the promise land. When this land is referred to as the “land flowing with milk and honey” it has an agricultural meaning. “Milk flow” and “honey flow” refers to the peak season of spring and summer when pastures are at their most productive stages. The livestock and bees that feast on these pastures are said to be producing a “flow” of milk and honey. So when we see this term “land flowing with milk and honey”, we know these pastures are the best of the best: rich, green and luxurious.
For Christians the promise land is a picture of us moving from a life of sin into the life of victory. This life is provided to us from the unrelenting effort of Jesus Christ. “He clears the rocks of stony unbelief. He tries to tear out the roots of bitterness. He attempts to break up the hard, proud human heart that is set like sun-dried clay. He then sows the seed of His own precious Word, which, if given half a chance to grow will produce rich crops of contentment and peace. He waters this with the dews and rain of His own presence by the Holy Spirit. He tends and cares and cultivates the life, longing to see it become rich and green and productive.”
Jesus, our Good Shepherd does this for us. He gives us green fields to find rest. However, because of our own perverseness, we often prefer to feed on the barren ground of the world around us. It comes down to a choice! Are you going to find rest and plenty in the green pastures that Jesus has provided for you or are you going to graze in the unsatisfying fields of the world.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures . . .
Information taken from the book A shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller