Psalm 23 (read online ⧉)
Psalm 23 is that one Psalm that even many non-Christians appreciate (if not love), and even those who have walked away from the faith still hold onto. Even with people who do not fully understand the imagery of a sheep and shepherd grasp some of the very important pieces from it, even when they don’t believe in God.
God loves them. Yep. That’s part of what makes this Psalm so amazing. People understand the caring and cherishing love that is conveyed in this Psalm. Those who don’t believe in God or have long struggled with the concept of a loving God versus a harsh God still get it! They want it!
God cares about them. Making people rest. Places of calming. Places of healing. Who doesn’t want that? And it calls to the unbeliever too!
Yes, there is a lot more in this Psalm that has called, drawn, nourished, healed people for generations. That is part of the problem. This Psalm is peaceful. It draws into a place of peace. That’s all good. However, it’s supposed to be a place of rest. If it is a place of rest, that means one needs to rest from something. Too often, though, we just want to rest. Rest is good. God built us that way. Too much rest is bad. We become more and more lethargic. We don’t want to move/go. We want to remain at rest.
At the risk of taking too much out of context, let’s look at the word מְנֻחֹות [mânuchah /men·oo·khaw]. Depending on the translation it means still (KJV, ESV) or quiet (NIV, CSB). When applied to water, there is a concept of the water’s presence being relaxing. In a culture that did not view water as particularly relaxing (there was more fear), this is very important. We, on the other hand, have a more relaxed view of the water.
Still or quiet does not mean stagnant. While the water is still or quiet, it is still “alive”. It moves. It has life in it. Too often we believe we want still or quiet, but we end up with stagnation. Water that is not stagnant has a cycle of its own. Stagnant water evaporates into nothingness. It ends up being nothing. It ends up being useless.
Resting in God is essential. It is important. It needs to be regular. The purpose of God-based rest is to do God’s work. Far too many people rest and are resting too long.
1) What does it mean to be stagnant in God’s Kingdom?
2) People, programs, ministries, facilities, thought processes, and so on can all become stagnant, even the ones we love. Where do you see stagnation?
3) What is the difference between stagnation and building up over a long period of time? How can you tell the difference?