One of our favorite things to do, during this time of social distancing and working virtually, is to lay on a big raft and float in the pool. The sun is shining, the tunes are playing and our big raft takes us on countless trips around our pool. My wife and I simply slip away into some blissful rest. Today was no different. We did some work and then took a break, in the middle of the afternoon, to float. As we were laying on our raft, looking up through the screen of our lanai at the tree tops and the birds soaring on warm breezes, my mind turned to a passage that served as the basis for a devotion I wrote earlier that day. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2)
I am well aware that the Psalmist wrote this passage while living smack dab in the midst of an agrarian culture. I know that people made their living by raising crops and herding animals, like sheep. I understand that this is a direct reference to tending a flock of sheep and the blessing of green pastures on which to graze and quiet waters from which to drink. It is a picture of peace and tranquility, both of which were hard to come by, in the Psalmist’s day, as well as ours. Yet, I still struggle to fully grasp this specific picture of peace and tranquility that the Psalmist paints.
I think of green pastures and I see, in my minds eye, a big open field surrounded with rickety fence posts connected by barbed wire. I see cows and flies and those little white birds that hang around cows in the field, in order to eat the bugs that feast on the manure. For me this is not an image that conjures up peace and tranquility. Some may be able to catch what the Psalmist is trying to say with this imagery, but for me it doesn’t quite work. Well, luckily for people like me, God didn’t have the Psalmist stop at “green pastures”. There is that ever present addition of “quiet waters”.
Now you’ve got me. As I lay on a big raft, floating in our pool, I understand the peace and tranquility of quiet waters. I understand what the Psalmist is teaching me about the nature of God and my life in relationship with God. This is what the Psalmist was talking about. This is the abundant life that Psalm 23 speaks of. I get it and I realize, in that moment, that I have always gotten it. I just never put together the significance of Psalm 23:2 and floating in our pool on a big raft.
If you would have asked me, before I made this connection, what one of my favorite things to do in life was, I would have answered, “float in my pool with my wife on a big raft”. I would have described to you the peacefulness of our pool with the sun shinning and the music playing. I would have shared the delight that I find in floating around with my eyes closed without a care in the world. I would have confessed that in my pool, with my wife, on a big raft, was one of my favorite places in the world.
Psalm 23 is a beautiful work of poetry that reveals God’s intention of a life in relationship. It shares not only pie in the sky, maybe someday my prince will come imagination, it also reveals God’s heart for his people. It reminds us that the simple pleasures in life are truly the best pleasures. It teaches that, in spite of a world around us that is full of struggle, strain and death, God offers to all of us peace and tranquility. God offers rest for all of those who are weary (that is all of us) and he provides for his children everything that we need. “He makes me lie down on a big raft in a pool, he floats me on quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2 – COVID-19 pandemic translation)