rāḇas [and] deshe’
A particularly pictorial phrase found in Psa_23:2, another provision from the Shepherd, is, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” The Hebrew verb behind lie down is rāḇas (H7257), which is equivalent to the Akkadian rabāsu, meaning “a stable” or possibly “a lying place.” Appearing about thirty times, the idea in the Hebrew is not so much a place to sleep, but rather a place to lie down to rest from exertion.
We see just such a pastoral scene in verses such as Gen_29:2, where Jacob comes to Haran and sees a “well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks.” While a much smaller scene, the picture of a bird’s nest is no less tranquil as we watch the mother “sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs” (Deu_22:6). But who would want to rouse a lion when it is resting (Gen_49:9)?
Perhaps most blessed of all is a scene Isaiah paints for us of the coming Millennium, when “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ [viper’s] den” (Isa_11:6-8). What a day that will be!
But what about the here and now? What are the green pastures (literally, “pastures of tender grass”) God provides today? (Green is deše’, H1877, “the tender first shoots of vegetation.”) No one answers that question better than the beloved Puritan Matthew Henry: “God’s ordinances are the green pastures in which food is provided for all believers; the word of life is the nourishment of the new man. It is milk for babes, pasture for sheep, never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but always a green pasture for faith to feed in. God makes his saints to lie down; he gives them quiet and contentment in their own minds, what ever their lot is; their souls dwell at ease in him, and that makes every pasture green.”
Dear Christian Friend, are you resting there today?
Scriptures for Study: Compare Eze_34:13-15 with Joh_6:35 and Mat_11:28. What is the promise then and now?