Vic Rhodes

FYW6 He Makes Me

The outsider bristles at the thought of “He makes me”. The immature believer is offended at being told what to do. Both are way wide of the mark. God has never made anyone do anything. That particular manifestation is reserved for Judgment Day when He will cause the devil and those who follow him to be confined forever in darkness and torment. The uncompromisingly righteous will then enter into eternal glory, but that is our choice, not God’s directive. He becomes directive in your life when you agree with Him and commit to Him.

A bedrock axiom of framing your world is the accurate application of Scripture. Many times the surface rendering must be unpacked to ensure we are understanding what the heart of the Lord is in a selected verse. It is not that the first interpretation is wrong but that there are many layers and meanings that must be taken into account. These additional details may shift the emphasis or bolster our initial perception of the meaning. In any case the unpacking and examination of Scripture is a best practice for due diligence, especially for those of us who minister the Word to others (which we are all called to do-see 2Tim 4:5, Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, 2Tim 2:15)

Our verse for this installment of Frame Your World is found in Psa 23:2.

Psalm 23:2 (NKJV) He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 

Many English versions render this “He makes me” in various ways. There are some alternative renderings, as follows:

     NLT – He lets me

     CSB – He lets me

     CJB – He has me

     The Message – You have bedded me

     NET – He takes me

     NCV – He lets me

     YLT – He causes me

Will God Force Me to Obey?

God certainly has a will, a predetermined outcome, a desired and hoped-for ending, for every person and every situation. But God never imposes His will on you. He leads you, He reprimands you, He pursues you, He stays with you no matter what you do, but He never forces you to do anything. He told Adam what to do, but Adam sinned anyway. God did not prevent Adam from sinning. God knew Lucifer would rebel and become Satan, the Adversary, but God did nothing to stop him (in the sense of active prevention-the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the ultimate death blow to Satan-and that was planned before He created anything! (see Rev 13:8)). God knew Cain would kill Abel, and gave Cain a chance to repent, but God did not stop the murder of Abel. Let’s look at some verses to support this position.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV) I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

God makes us aware of the choice we have. Every human being has a free will. A free will is one without restriction or limitation. God says you can do whatever you want to. However, He does warn us about the consequences of our decisions. God wants us to choose life, to choose Him and His ways, but He will not force anyone to obey Him. He wants those who choose to love Him freely, those who exercise their free will to submit to and agree with Him. We are given a free will so we can choose, not be forced.

Joshua 24:15 (NKJV) And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua reminds the people that it is their choice who they will serve. Everyone serves someone, but we are free to choose who we serve. There are only two choices available. There are only two kingdoms on earth, only two rulers. They are Jesus Christ and Satan. Satan is pushy and aggressive, manipulative and controlling, a liar and deceiver. Jesus tells us Satan is the original deceiver and the father or source of all lies (John 8:44, Rev 12:9). Satan is a thief, a destroyer of all that is good (John 10:10) God is the source of life, love and light. He is gentle, patient, kind, generous, and merciful. Always! To everyone, all the time! (2Sam 22:36, Gal 5:22, John 3:16, James 1:17, Psa 103:4, Lam 3:22, 2 Cor 1:3)

God is also the Righteous Judge who reserves the right to judge all our decisions. And the biggest decision you will ever make is your choice, your response, to the Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua told the people the same thing God told Moses. Life and death is our choice. On Judgment Day the only decision between your future in heaven and your future in hell is your decision to repent of sin and choose Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

The phrase “He makes me” makes sense only in the context of someone who is completely yielded to the Lord, someone who is submitted to Him without question, without reservation, without qualification. When we are in covenant agreement with Him, we choose in advance to accept and do His will. When we decide wholeheartedly to follow the Lord, we lose the right to question Him or disagree with Him. We cede our self-dominion to His Love. When He commands us it is always of love, in love. His commandments to us prove His love for us, and our obedience proves our love to Him.  All His commandments are designed to produce the best possible outcome every time.

When we are truly yielded to the Lord and have set our hearts on serving Him no matter what, we can be steered, we can be directed and guided by Him. King David was saying that because he had chosen to serve the Lord, his heart was tender and God can work with a tender heart. The sense of “He makes me” is more an acknowledgment that God brought David to a peaceful state, a state of comfort and safety, even during challenging times. David was a willing participant as God directed and guided him. God is always working in our lives to improve our position and our condition. And He always knows the very best thing we need at any moment. Trust Him! Let Him lead you out of turmoil and stress into a state of peace and joy regardless of the problems you face.

Isaiah 1:19–20 (NKJV) 19) If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20) But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

These verses summarize David’s relationship to the Lord. David was willing and obedient to the Lord. A willing heart is open to the Lord’s commands, guidance, and instruction. He is our Father, our Lord, and our Master, so He is authorized and righteous to command and guide and direct. When a willing heart intersects with the Word of the Lord, and obeys, being “made to lie down”, being brought by obedience and trust into safety and abundance is the guaranteed outcome. Every time!

Verse 20 is the warning no one wants to hear. We want the blessing without being willing or obedient. David had opportunity to refuse the Word of God and rebel against His will. Consider the disturbing story of Bathsheba and her warrior husband Uriah (see 2 Samuel 11:1-27). Why does the Holy Spirit record the words “David tarried” (KJV) in verse 1? I think God was speaking to David but David chose to refuse and rebel. David knew he was supposed to be leading Joab and the army but chose the desire of his own heart over the Word of the Lord. The consequences of his choices fulfill Isaiah 1:20, being devoured by the sword. Two of his sons rose in rebellion against him, with much turmoil and pain in his family.

God does not force anyone to obey Him. He searches the whole earth seeking willing hearts that He may manifest Himself in their lives.

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV) For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”

When He finds a willing heart the Lord begins to communicate and reveal Himself. If that person stays willing and obedient, the Lord cheerfully and gladly does everything He can to bless them, encourage them, heal them, and deliver them. As long as the willingness and obedience to the Lord is maintained, He will endlessly work to improve every facet of that person. Why not you?

What Are “Green Pastures”?

The Psalmist declares the Lord caused him to “lie down in green pastures”. There is the act of laying down, coming to rest, transitioning from effort and movement to a state of peace and tranquility, and there is a description of where this occurs. To a sheep, green pastures are critical for survival. A green pasture is a big blessing to livestock. The Hebrew word also means habitation or dwelling place. God desires to bring all His children into their rightful dwelling place. He cannot do that if we do not listen intently and choose to obey everything He tells us! He knows what we need! We do not know what we need. We think we know, but really we are ignorant of much of our own heart.

There is a place of blessing prepared for you. There is a dwelling space, a peaceful home that is safe and comfortable and designed just the way you want it, He is trying to get you to. Here are some examples.

Psalm 4:8 (NKJV) I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Here again, David (author of Psalm 4) is not being forced to dwell in safety. He is thanking and acknowledging the goodness and mercy of the Lord who brought David to a place of safety where he could sleep in peace. He is saying that if it was up to God, David would only dwell in safety, peace, and contentment.

Ezekiel 34:11–15 (NKJV) 11) ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12) As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13) And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14) I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15) I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God.

In this passage we see the heart of God yearning for His people. David expresses His heart in Psalm 23 and in Ezekiel God Himself is revealing what He thinks about all of us. He searches and seeks and works tirelessly to get our attention and lead us out of lack, bondage, and deception. He only wants us to be safe! To be at peace. He will never stop trying to bless you! But we must choose to be willing and obedient to Him.

A “green pasture” is a safe place to eat, a safe environment to learn and grow in. Sometimes our home environment or our work space or our school situation discourages and limits learning and growing. God is not happy about that! Every person on earth has the God-given right to be safe, to learn of God, to become a close personal friend of Jesus Christ. It does not matter to the Lord what difficulty you encounter. He knows exactly how to bring you up out of the pit into a “green pasture’ where you are safe, at peace, and extravagantly cared for.

Looking for Peace and Quiet

Psalm 23:2 (NKJV) He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

“Still waters” is the translation used in the KJV, NKJV, and others. Still waters may sound dank or dead, like a pond with no inlet or outlet, covered in algae and smelling swampy. Still waters may mean not fresh, or not clean, like a mud puddle on a dirt road. If God takes you to a mud puddle, looks at you with a big smile and says “Here it is!” you likely will not be impressed!

Thankfully there are alternative renderings that enlarge our understanding of where God is trying to lead us. As I keep saying, God is only good, interested in and working on our improvement and blessing. Wherever He takes you, I promise you it will be much better than where you came from.

AMP   – still and restful

NASB – quiet

NLT   – peaceful streams

CSB    – quiet waters

CJB    – quiet water

MSG   – quiet pools to drink from

NET   – refreshing water

NCV   – calm water

TNK   -water in places of repose

NETS – water of rest

Green pastures speaks of abundant supply and provision. Still waters refers to rest, refreshing, or recovery. God knows we need to refuel and recover after work. As our Shepherd He will teach and train, lead and guide, instruct and direct us to feed on His word (the ultimate green pasture) and rest in Him. Jesus Christ is the water of life we all need to live.

John 4:14 (NKJV) but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The fountain of life comes from the water Jesus gives us. Water is required for life in our physical realm. And the water of life, the requirement for eternal life, only comes from jesus Christ.

Revelation 21:6 (NKJV) And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

          When God leads us to still waters He is meeting our needs for food and drink in the physical realm, and in the spirit realm. He prepares a place of safety and peace where we can recharge and be refreshed in His presence.

Personal Application

First, I will yield to the Lord and give Him permission to “make me” and “lead me”. I tell Him I trust Him. Then I thank Him for thinking of me, and loving me. I thank Him for correcting me, for directing me, and for providing for my needs. Then I quote the verse and thank Him again for His abundant provision and supernatural rest.

Remember that we are framing our world. Our words are building some things and tearing down other things. We are speaking life to those things God wants to live in us, and we speak death to those things God wants to die in us. Psa 23:2 is a verse we can use to prophesy and call forth divine supply and refreshment, which we all need more than we know.

Application for Others

We are commanded to love others as we love ourselves (Matt 22:39, Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31). This means if it is good enough for you it is good enough for your family, or your co-workers, or the students in your class. If it is promised to you it is promised to others. If you have found a wonderful spiritual truth and are believing God for it, it is appropriate, even required of you, to believe God for others to partake of the blessings you are standing in faith for.

I have a list of names, groups, and organizations I pray for. They include my extended family, our church family, co-workers and customers, ministries I am connected to or receive nourishment from, and several governmental targets. When I quote a verse and apply it to myself, I will often apply it to my list of prayer targets. Sometimes I apply it prophetically, declaring and confessing and saying it as if it was already true. This method is based on Romans 4:17.

Romans 4:17 (NKJV) (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

I will speak life to the dead things in my prayer targets. The Word of God IS life, and contains life, and will carry life by faith from me to them (John 1:4). This is a way to influence others for good. I will call forth (declare as if already true, act as if already established) whatever the promise is in the verse I am quoting. So when using Psa 23:2 for others I will declare they enjoy green pastures, that they have supernatural abundance of everything they need, and are at rest , drinking from the fountain of water of life.

Of course, at that moment in time, they may still be rebellious, selfish, childish, proud, and broke. That is none of my business. My business is to stand in faith before God for them. My business is to believe God for truth to prevail in their heart, just like many people prayed to God for me when I was rebellious, selfish, childish, proud, and broke.

The other method of applying this is in intercession. This is a prayer that intersects the life of our target(s), and we stand in their place before the Lord. That means I will repent as if I did their dirty deeds. I will ask God to forgive me in their behalf. Nehemiah prayed like this (Neh 1:4-11), and so did Daniel (Dan 9:3-19). Jesus is our ultimate example of praying for others (Luke 23:34, Heb 7:25, Isa 53:12, Rom 8:34). Only after confessing their sin and repenting for them am I in position to intercede for them.

Interceding for others in this manner is one of the most important activities possible for a Christian. Jesus intercedes for us. What do you think He uses to intercede? Words! His own Words. We have some of His Words in Psa 23:2, so we can use His Words to cause changes in the spirit realm that make it possible for His Word to take root and grow in them.

Prayer for Repentance and Salvation.

If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Saviour, I invite you to ask Him into your heart. If you knew the Lord but have not been hungering for Him I invite you to consider your ways and repent. He is faithful and righteous to wipe your slate clean when you confess your sin to Him! (1 John 1:9)

1 John 1:9 (NASB95) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

He gave His life for you, and you honour Him when you give your life for Him. It is the right thing to do!

1 Corinthians 6:20 (AV) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

You must give yourself to God for Him to come into your life and help you change. He will not force you! Ever. But oh! The joy and peace and hope He gives you!

Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV) 1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 10:9 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

You must acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord, and you must believe He was resurrected from the dead by the Father.

Say this prayer out loud.

Heavenly Father I turn to you and acknowledge You as the Almighty God, eternal and sovereign over all. I have been rebellious, selfish, and deceived trying to live without you. I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to redeem me from death and sin, and that He rose from the dead, alive forever with You. I ask you to forgive me of all my sin, known and unknown. Please come into my life as my Lord and my Saviour. Thank you for forgiving me, and redeeming me from sin. I choose to trust You and put You first in every area of my life. I will love You and serve You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my resources, for the rest of my life, beginning right now. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

If you prayed this to the Lord, please let me know! I have some resources to share with you, and will help you on your journey with the Lord.