Summer days are lazy days for sheep. They eat and they lie around. They drink a lot of water. Then they eat and lie around some more. Such a life, eh?
This summer’s been pretty nice for my sheep because, in spite of recent dry weeks, their pastures have been lush and green the whole summer. I generally let them graze on one pasture for a few days. Then when they’ve eaten it down, I move them onto another pasture where new, thick grass tempts their palate.
This makes them happy sheep. Full. Content. And they lie around some more.
Anyone who knows sheep knows life is good when they see their flock lying around. As ruminants— animals with four stomachs—sheep will eat their fill of forage in minutes and then lie down and chew their cud for hours. This chewing is actually a regurgitating, rechewing and reswallowing of the grass they’ve eaten, creating a natural antacid, so to speak, which allows for better digestion in all those stomachs.
Isn’t that appetizing?
Well, I suppose not. But from a practical standpoint, a flock of sheep lying down and chewing their cud is a healthy flock. They’ve gotten enough to eat. They’re digesting in the proper manner. They are happy and content.
David, the Psalmist, is someone who knew sheep. When he wrote of lying “down in green pastures,” he wasn’t just penning creative prose. David knew sheep lie down when they are cared for and content. Using subject matter he knew best—the simplicity of sheep farming—David beautifully characterized the confidence he felt in God’s loving care.
I love to look out at my pastures and see my sheep. And as they look up at me, with jaws gnawing away, I know the good care I give them is fragmentary beside the complete care God gives me.