We've come up to the second half of Psalm 23:2, which says, "He leads me beside the still waters." And I find three encouragements in that little phrase. The first is that God leads us; He guides us. One of the greatest blessings that we have on earth is the guidance He gives us in the Scriptures. That is probably the most important way in which He shepherds us. To fail to familiarize ourselves with the Bible is to disdain the most important guidance we can get in life. It's to fail to be a sheep in relationship to a Shepherd. Our whole life must be grounded in and saturated with the Bible. But He guides us by opening our eyes to have wisdom in knowing how to apply the Scripture. And He guides us providentially in giving us opportunities to live out our trust in those Scriptures. And you can bless God this morning when you come to the table that He is willing to guide and to lead us. And you can confidently claim His guidance for this coming week.
But second and thirdly, He leads us to something, and He leads us away from something. And so the second point is that He leads us to the refreshment and the empowering waters of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to find refreshment in Him. And no matter how thirsty our soul may be, it can find total satisfaction in the Spirit whom the Lord Jesus Christ sends into our lives. Let me read you something from John 7.
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
John 7:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit [that's what the water is — the Spirit], whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Our good shepherd leads us to the waters of the Holy Spirit and He wants us to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we overflow in bringing refreshment to those who are around us. He wants us to drink of Him. In fact, the image of the Lord's Table given in 1 Corinthians 10 is really cool. It picks up the symbolism of Moses striking the rock and rivers of water gushing out of that rock to picture Jesus being struck by the rod of God's justice on the cross, and as a result of the Jesus dying on Passover, the Spirit is given at Pentecost. And then it says that when we come to the Lord's Table, we eat the same spiritual food and drink the same spiritual drink, for we drink of that Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. Weekly celebration of the Lord's Table keeps our focus where it should be — on Christ.
But we are led away from something as well, and that is hinted at in the word "still." They are still waters, not wavy waters. One of the gross things about sheep is that they would much rather drink from a puddle of urine than to drink from water that is rippling or rough. I saw this all the time with our sheep in Ethiopia. It's gross, I know. And I'm not sure if it is because they are afraid of the ripples, or if water gets into their nose and scares them, or if there is some other reason. But they won't drink unless the water is calm and still. Unless the shepherd leads them to clean water, they will drink from mud puddles.
And so there sense in which this is not a complement. We wouldn't go to the refreshment of God's waters if it was left up to us. God has to move us there. Even our sanctification is all of grace. If it wasn't for grace, our flesh would make us try to quench our spiritual thirst in carnal ways — with busyness, with fun, with food, with shopping, with friends, with sex, or with any number of substitutes for God. But that is like trying to quench our thirst like those sheep did — by drinking from a puddle of urine. We are led away from that to the clean waters of God's grace.
So as we come to the Lord's Table, let's not only thank God for His guidance and for the refreshment of soul that we can find in His grace, but let's commit ourselves to turning from the proverbial urine puddles, to be guided by the Scriptures to find our total satisfaction in God. Jesus promised that those who drink of Him will never thirst spiritually. So let us drink of the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to quench the thirstiness and emptiness that we have. Come to this table in faith. Let's pray.