Green Pastures and Still Waters for the Flock of God.

J. A. Von Poseck.
"Feed the Flock of God"
Third Edition,
London: Morrish, 20, Paternoster Square.


The following was written nearly six years ago It was only after much hesitation and prayer, that, at the repeated requests of some esteemed Christians, and after a careful revision, I have resolved to commit these notes to print. I confide in the well-known forbearance of my dear fellow Christians in this country, as to the imperfections of expression. The twenty-third Psalm has been so interwoven with the whole of my Christian course (of more than 26 years), and our gracious Shepherd has, from this precious portion of His Pasture, whenever I turned to it, so often blessed my soul, that I could resist no longer the desire to communicate to others what He has been pleased to give to me.

The dispensational side of our Psalm I have only occasionally touched upon, as the chief object of it is the feeding of the soul on Christ. Consequently even the great Christian principles of truth, foreshadowed and embedded in this Psalm, are considered, only as far as they concern the flock of God; for instance, the question of worship at the Lord's Table, where we feed upon His death, when
"We sing of the Shepherd that died,
That died for the sake of the flock."

For, however important a place the Church, as such, may occupy at that blessed Table of our Lord, and in His counsels, yet this portion of divine truth would be out of place in our Psalm. May God keep us from growing into cool and enlightened churchmen, to the neglect of the pastoring of the flock, for whom the Good Shepherd died.

Now the requisites for the spiritual health of the believer's soul, are exactly the same as those for the physical health of his outward man.

The latter are, as we all know:

1. Good and suitable food. 2. Regular exercise of body and mind. And last, though not least, 3. A pure and congenial atmosphere. We shall find all these three requisites spiritually supplied in our Psalm. The first two verses deal with the question of true feeding; in the third we find the exercise for conscience and heart, in v. 4, faith, in v. 5, the Lord's Table, and in v. 6, His and our home, the pure heavenly atmosphere of the worshipper. But I need hardly repeat that, according to the nature of our Psalm, food (i.e. He Who alone supplies, and is this food, Himself) is the prominent subject; it is indeed the first and chief question of a man's life and health, though of course combined with the other two.

If ever there was a time, when the deep need of solid food for the flock of God at large, from His own Word, was felt by those who have the growth and welfare of that precious flock at heart, (and how can we think of the Shepherd, without thinking of His flock, for whom He died?), it is in these last evil days.

And now I commend these pages to Him, Who alone can bless them, and those who may read them, to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Unto Him, be all glory, and wisdom, and honour, and blessing. Amen.
Southsea, December, 1874.


Beloved fellow believer, permit me to ask you one question:—"What are you feeding upon?" You know that, as to our outward man, everything depends upon the quality of the food we take. How much more does this hold good as to the health, growth, and strength of our inward man; I mean of that new nature, that new life, which He has imparted to us, Who is its sustainer as well as its source. Is Jesus Christ Himself, the Bread of Life which came down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die, the daily food of your soul?

An eminent servant of Christ has said:— "God gave not his Son to suffer and to die, and then to be played with, but to feed upon." How blessedly, but how solemnly true! Let us ever remember that the same Lamb, the blood of which, sprinkled on the side posts and on the lintel of the dwelling of an Israelite in Egypt, saved its inmates from the sword of the destroyer, was placed upon the table within the house, to be eaten by every member of the saved family. The blood outside sheltered from judgment, but the feeding within upon the roast lamb imparted strength for the journey before them. The finished work of Christ, precious and sole foundation, as it is, of our salvation, peace with God, and of our relationship with Him, yet does not in itself impart strength, victoriously to resist the world, Satan, and sin. What our blessed Lord has done His work — is one thing, but what He is in Himself — His Person — is far more for the former is only the necessary result of the latter. Jesus Christ has done what He has done, because He is what He is. May daily and hourly grace be given us, to realize more fully, what is written in the closing verse of the 22nd Psalm — "That He hath done this;" which means, not only that He hath done this, "but that HE hath done this," the divine and human perfection of Whose Person gives the value to His work.

Before entering upon the meditation on our Psalm, I would offer a few remarks as to the connection between Psalms 22, 23, and 24. They form, as the reader will be aware, one group. What contrasts, and yet what Divine connection we find throughout this glorious cluster of the inspired songs of the royal Psalmist. In Psalm 22 we behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world; in Psalm 23 we find the Shepherd, in His tender care, feeding and shepherding the sheep and lambs of His flock, so dearly. bought and so dearly beloved; whilst in Psalm 24 we gaze upon the "King of glory;" "The Lord strong and mighty in battle;" The "Lord of Hosts." "coming into His kingdom" (comp. Luke 23:42). The "everlasting doors" (of Zion on earth, I suppose) are commanded to be lifted up to receive Him, that the King of Glory might enter; just as in chapter 19 of the book of Revelation, we see the folding-doors of Heaven, as it were, thrown open, when the "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords," on His white horse of victory, and at the head of His "heavenly armies," is seen to start from heaven on His triumphal earthward journey, to enter on His millennial kingdom of righteousness and peace, His head encircled with "many crowns" — God's answer to that "crown of thorns," wherewith Israel and the world requited Him on the day of His rejection and crucifixion.

One remark as to the opening words of Psalms 22 and 23. Each opens with God; only in the former connected with the expression of deepest woe, whilst in the latter it heads the expression of quiet happiness. In Psalm 22 it is "Eli," i.e., "my God," to Whom the cry of agony of that Forsaken One went up from the tree of curse, when the obedient "Son of His love" drank the cup of wrath, and underwent death for "children of wrath and of disobedience," that, through faith in His Name and Blood, and in the power of God, Who raised Him from the dead, they might become "beloved and obedient children." But in our (23) Psalm, it is "Jehovah" — Jesus, — the same who appealed in Psalm 22 with that heaven-piercing cry to His God. Here we find the Son of God as the Shepherd referred to by the sheep and lambs of His flock.

Is there on this earth any sorrow like that of being forsaken by those nearest and dearest to us? Who could feel it as He Who was daily His Father's delight. "when the foundations of the world were appointed!" The cup of His sufferings was running over at that awful moment, when the voice, which once commanded the light to shine out of darkness, went up from the cross in those words: — "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" when the sun hid his face, as if refusing to countenance the darkest deed of Satan and man, and when God hid His face from His beloved One, at the very moment, when the delight of His heart in that Son was at its height. — Glorious holiness, that could not spare such a Son, and matchless love, that would not, and did not spare Him but gave the best One in heaven for the vilest thing on earth, worms in rebellion against God!

But that Blessed Saviour, Whose cry of agony opens the preceding Psalm, when the face of His God, Whose eyes are purer than to behold iniquity, had to turn away from His holy and beloved One, because our sins and iniquities were then and there laid upon Him, made sin for us — that same Blessed Saviour, we behold at the opening of Psalm 23 as Jehovah the Shepherd, drawing forth from the sheep and lambs of His pasture, that expression of calm and joyful confidence, "I shall not want."

What wondrous contrasts between these two Psalms! — In the former, a cup of unmingled wrath, sorrow, gall and bitterness, unalleviated by one single drop of comfort, whilst in our pastoral Psalm we have an overflowing cup of unmingled blessing, purest peace and joy. Eternal praise be to Him, Who "Guilt's bitter cup has drained," so that — "Nothing for us remains, Nothing but love."

Further, complete darkness, without one single gladdening ray of light at the opening of Psalm 22, whilst Psalm 23 presents in its opening verses the bright sunny prospect of an evergreen pasture, with the peacefully feeding flock of God. Who but He, the Saviour, Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, can make His sheep and lambs to lie down in these green pastures, where dearth is unknown. None but He, Who was poured out like water, and all his bones out of joint, and Whose heart was like wax, melted in the midst of His bowels. Where is the pastor to be found, who, with unerring wisdom and unremitting care, leads the sheep beside the still waters?" There is none that is able to do this, but Jesus, Whose strength was dried up like a potsherd, whilst His tongue clave to His jaws. Who is to enable them to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil? None but He, Who Himself was brought into the dust of death, and was heard from the horns of the unicorns, "was heard in that he feared, when in the days of his flesh he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death."

Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, keep us in these perilous closing days close to Thy feet and to Thy Cross, there to learn what Thou art and what Thou hast done for us, and what Thou wilt have us to do and to be, as sheep who know their Shepherd's voice and follow Him: for, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

A few remarks on the writer of Psalm 23, before entering upon its details. The inspired writer is none other than David, the Shepherd-King, a fact of peculiar sweetness! Among men, there had never been a shepherd like David. He staked his life to rescue one single feeble lamb of his father's flock. But David was not only a faithful shepherd, in protecting, and providing good pasture for the flock. He, the man after God's own heart, had himself learnt to feed on the pasture of God's Word. The Psalms of David are, in themselves, the best proof of how well their inspired writer knew the secret of true feeding in His presence, where alone such feeding is possible. It is needless to point out special Psalms, as nearly every one of them bears this characteristic stamp. But I do not intend here to expatiate on David, who, faithful shepherd as he was (far more faithful than as king), cannot be compared to Him Who is both David's Son and David's Lord. Jesus Christ alone is "the good shepherd," "the great shepherd," and "the chief shepherd."

Let us now, whilst praying for His guidance and blessing, enter upon the meditation on our Psalm. It is one of the shortest. But small as is its compass, every verse, yea, every word, we may say, teems with such an exuberance of pasture, that its words, amidst the withering and heart-sickening atmosphere of the great modern religious Upas-tree, fall upon so many starving souls of Christ's flock, "like the dew of Hermon, that descended upon the mountains of Zion." Its six verses appear like so many "steps" or "degrees" of blessing, till "the cup runs over," and at last the climax of happiness, the highest round, as it were, of this Jacob's ladder of blessings* is reached with the "dwelling in the house of the Lord, aye, and with Himself for ever!"

{*Only in the reversed order to that of Jacob's ladder — upwards, not downwards. For it begins with the green pastures, and ends in the Father's House.}

I propose, therefore, to make each verse, as a phase or degree of blessing, so to speak, a matter of special consideration, as follows: —
First Degree — The Shepherd of our Souls.
Second Degree — His Pasture.
Third Degree — The Bishop of our Souls.
Fourth Degree — His Staff and Rod in "the Valley of the Shadow of Death."
Fifth Degree — His Table and His Cup.
Sixth Degree — His and our Home.