September 16, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“When my spirit was overwhelmed and fainted, throwing all its weight upon me, then You knew my path…I cried to You, O Lord; I said, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living…Bring my life out of prison, that I may confess, praise, and give thanks to Your name.”
“My God, whose gracious pity I may claim,
Calling Thee Father – sweet, endearing name!
The sufferings of this weak and weary frame,
All, all are known to Thee.
From human eye ‘tis better to conceal
Much that I suffer, much I hourly feel;
But oh! The thought does tranquilize and heal-
All, all is known to Thee.
Each secret conflict with indwelling sin,
Each sickening fear I never the prize shall win,
Each pang from irritation, turmoil, din –
All, all is known to Thee.
The effectual means to cure what I deplore;
In me Thy longed-for likeness to restore;
Self to dethrone, never to govern more –
All, all are known to Thee.
And this continued feebleness, this state
Which seems to unnerve and incapacitate,
Will work the cure my hopes and prayers await –
That can I leave to Thee…
Oh welcome, precious…Spirit make
My little drop of suffering for His sake.
Father, the cup I drink, the path I take,
All, all is known to Thee.”
Anson Davies Fitz Randolph
Today’s Study Text:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
Psalm 23 – Part 8
“Waters That Refresh”
“’He (the shepherd) causes me to water in places of rest.’ In other words, the shepherd has chosen verdant pastures and waters that are restful enough that they are easy to drink from. The shepherd has given the sheep ‘the Ritz’ in terms of food and drink.”
Mary E. Shields
Feasting on the Word
Year A, Volume 4
How has my Shepherd led me by still waters when I thirsted?
Have I ever considered what it is I thirst for in my life?
The provision of God is made available to the soul that trusts in God.”
Gary V. Simpson
“The Bible says that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
I have found that the “stops” of a good man may also be ordered by the Lord.”
In the hot Arizona summers, many of which I spent at my grandparents ranch deep in Aravaipa Canyon, where sheer walls of rock pierced the sky, the days were made much more enjoyable by the hours my sister and I spent in the gently moving creek which ran through the middle of the ranch property. I can recall pumping up our air mattresses and then slowly floating down the creek, until we reached a sharp bend and we would stop in the large “pond-like” area my dad had dug out in the creek-bed and lie quietly when the afternoon sun began to sink in the west. This was life at its best. The only sounds we could hear were birds calling out and the soft tinkling of the water over the rocks that lined the creek bank.
There were however, those rare occasions when some animal would appear out of the underbrush and make their way to the edge of the water to drink from the refreshing stream. For animals like sheep, the necessity to keep well hydrated is critical for 70% of their body on the average, is composed of water. Author Phillip Keller whose comprehensive look at Psalm 23 is greatly enhanced by the fact that he was a shepherd himself, gives his readers tremendous insight into how the words describing the shepherd’s attempt to find the perfect pool of water from which his flock can drink, helps us understand the critical importance of water being fresh: “When sheep are thirsty they become restless and set out in search of water to satisfy their thirst. If not led to the good water supply of clean, pure water, they will often end up drinking from the polluted pot holes where they pick up such internal parasites as nematodes, liver flukes and other disease germs…David, when he composed Psalm 23, knew this. Looking at life from the standpoint of a sheep he wrote, ‘He (the Good Shepherd) leadeth me beside the still waters.’ In other words, He (the Shepherd) alone knows where the still, quiet, deep, clean, pure water is to be found that alone can satisfy His sheep and keep them fit and strong.”
Because I do not know a great deal about the feeding and watering of sheep, I did my own research to find out exactly how a shepherd might go about identifying those places where sheep would feel secure and safe, only stopping to drink in a place where they would not feel physically threatened.
As shared by various writers, desert wells often provided stopping points in an oasis in a barren landscape. But shepherds also knew of gentle mountain streams or spring fed water sources which could serve as stopping places for their flock. But there’s also a third source of pure water that Phillip Keller identified which I found extremely thought-provoking: “Most people are not aware that sheep can go for months on end, especially if the weather is not too hot, without actually drinking, if there is heavy dew on the grass each morning. Sheep, by habit, rise just before dawn and start to feed. Or if there is bright moonlight they will graze at night. The early hours are when the vegetation is drenched with dew, and sheep can keep fit on the amount of water taken in with their forage when they graze just before and after dawn.”
This vital piece of information bears noting for in Jesus own life, we find that He gained strength from His Father when He took time to stop and have His thirst quenched. As the disciple Mark shares; “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He (Jesus) went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1: 35, K.J.V.) Later, Dr. Luke tells us that, “And it came to pass in those days, that He (Jesus) went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6: 12, K.J.V.). Drawing on the dew from heaven, in the early morning and all through the night, Jesus’ gained the “hydration” He needed to not only fill His own life, but to touch the lives of others as He infused them with the love of His Father. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention one other text where again Dr. Luke records that Jesus went “up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering” (Luke 9: 28, 29, K.J.V.). This passage reminded me the words in Exodus 34: 30, “And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of His face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.” Time alone with God was reflected not only in the life of Jesus, but in Moses as well. And it is no different in your life and mine. When we take time to stop and drink of the streams from our Father, we will be watered and our thirst will be satisfied to the point that we will be transformed in word and deed.
I appreciate the way Bible commentator, Matthew Henry explains the transformation which takes place when we drink from the water of life, “God provides for His children not only food and rest, but refreshment and pleasure. The consolations of God, the joys of the Holy Sprit, these are still waters, by which we are led, streams which flow from the fountain of waters…God leads His children, not to the standing waters which corrupt and gather filth, nor to the troubled sea, nor to the rapid rolling floods, but to the silent, rippling waters; for the still but running waters agree best with those whose spirits flow out towards God and yet do it silently under divine guidance.”
Augustine of Hippo wrote these beautiful words many years ago: “O God! Thou hast made us for Thyself and our souls are restless, searching, until they find their rest in Thee.” The message from our Shepherd is, “Follow Me and I will lead your restless soul to still waters.”
As I have studied this specific phrase in Psalm 23: 2, I uncovered words penned by Harry Evans, Jr. in a commentary specifically regarding the phrase: “He leadeth me beside still waters.” Evans notes that this phrase takes the provision of God beyond the wants of humanity. “While verse 1 affirms that under the care of God we shall be free from want, verse 2 declares that a richer, deeper experience is to be had under God’s care. Reclining in verdant fields in proximity to placid streams suggests an abundant life…God is one who provides in abundance.”
In the words of Jesus to the woman at the well, we find contained the promise for each of us today: “But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give (her) shall never, no never, be thirsty anymore. But the water that I will give (her) shall become a spring of water welling up, flowing, bubbling, continually within (her) unto eternal life” (John 4: 14, Amplified Bible).
What a life-infusing promise from our Good Shepherd today!
“I was dying of thirst. When my spiritual eyes were opened I saw the rivers of living water flowing from His pierced side. I drank of it and was satisfied. Thirst was no more. Ever since I have always drunk of that water of life, and have never been athirst in the sandy desert of this world.”
Sadhu Sundar Singh
“Thus says the Lord…You will not hunger or thirst, neither will a mirage mislead or scorching wind or sun smite you; for He who has mercy on you will lead you, and by springs of water will He guide you.”
Ho! Everyone that is thirsty in spirit,
Ho! Everyone that is weary and sad;
Come to the fountain there’s fullness in Jesus,
All that you’re longing for; come and be glad!
Child of the world, are you tired of your bondage?
Weary of earth’s joys, so false, so untrue?
Thirsting for God and His fullness of blessing?
List to the promise, a message for you!
I will pour water on him that is thirsty,
I will pour floods upon the dry ground;
Open your hearts for the gifts I am bringing;
While ye are seeking Me, I will be found!”
Lucy Jane Meyer Rider
“I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.”
“You shall receive the grace you so much require, and you shall have it to the utmost reach of your needs. Water refreshes the thirsty; you shall be refreshed; your desires shall be gratified. Water quickens sleeping vegetable life; your life shall be quickened by fresh grace. Water swells the buds and makes the fruits ripen…whatever good quality there is in divine grace, you shall enjoy it to the full. All the riches of divine grace you shall receive in plenty; you shall be as it were drenched with it; and as some times the meadows become flooded by the bursting rivers, and the fields turned into pools so shall you be the thirsty land shall be springs of water.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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