“He leads me to quiet water”
The prophet Jeremiah wrote words from God, “My people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me the spring of living water. They have built for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that do not hold water.”
Shepherds bring their flocks to the hillsides to eat. They bring water to the flock to drink. They either find a safe spring or pool, or they draw water and pour it into a manger (water trough) for the flock. Sheep must drink in the morning and evening, or they will die.
Desert daytime sun and heat will suck the life from the flock. So it is with our desert journey, too. Life is a desert journey: a journey that cannot be lived without a good shepherd who supplies our needs.
When we lead groups to the land, we constantly tell them to drink water. The desert is dry, and dehydration is a danger for westerners who are not used to the heat and the dry climate.
In June, one of our participants became ill during the night with fever and chills. My nurse practitioner wife recognized the symptoms of dehydration. He stayed back at the hotel the next day supplied with plenty of water, electrolytes, and juicy fruits. By the evening his health was normal again. The desert will do that to people.
David was a shepherd. He knew the desert. He knew the needs of his flock. He described God in the language that he knew and in a metaphor that God gave to him for us. The Lord is MY shepherd. The Lord leads me to quiet water.
Cistern water is ok, but over time it becomes infested with critters and the conditions that cause it to become stagnant. It develops an odor. It is unpleasant. But it is used in the extreme dry seasons for survival. We would boil it to make it safe.
Jeremiah chides us. Cistern water is a metaphor for people who are self-reliant, self-confident, and reliant on themselves instead of God. The work of human hands turns fresh water into stagnant water. Who would desire that!
Biblically, fresh water is called living water. It is water that God provides. God causes it to fall from the sky. God causes it to flow in streams from mountain snow melt. God causes it to flow in underground streams and to bubble up from the ground in fresh springs. Who would not seek living water in parched places!
Psalm 23 describes the trust of the flock in God our shepherd. His flock does not worry about water. His flock experiences the contentment of complete trust. My shepherd will lead me to quiet, fresh, succulent water.
Those who are called to follow the sheep and to lead his flock embrace trust. Our shepherd does not remove us from desert places, but guides and leads us through desert places. With full confidence, we proclaim, “I trust my good shepherd who will lead to living water in desert times and places.”
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services