One of my favorite pastimes is canoeing on the river. The key is putting in up steam and traveling with the water flow. There were times when we had to paddle against the current, which was quite the exhausting battle, but worse was when we had to carry the canoes with all the gear because the river’s flow had been diminished. However, the most enjoyable days were when there was a strong flow, and we were simply carried along for the ride.
The word Torah is rooted in the idea of a ‘flow or throw of something.’ It has the same imagery of the flowing river we would canoe upon. It also carries the idea of an arrow flowing from the archer’s bow and the instructor’s teachings that point the way we are to live.
In writing Psalm 23, David expresses this same sentiment when he characterizes Adonai as ‘my shepherd’ or instructor and how, from His flow of instruction, there is nothing else David needs. When I, too, flow with the Shepherd’s guidance, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures and leads me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Even when that flow takes me, “though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Jesus, the Good Shepherd is with me; His rod and staff they comfort me.” What is really cool is how God provides a feast of divine attributes for me while my enemies look on. All that is required of me to partake of that feast is one essential choice: to flow with Him as I do in the canoe on the river. When I humble myself under God’s mighty hand and live in obedience to His word, life becomes like the high waters of the river that sweep me along in His extraordinary way. When I don’t acknowledge His holiness and lean on my own limited and biased understanding, it’s likened to fighting the current or carrying the canoe through diminished flow… Not fun at all. Look how David amplifies this pattern of understanding as he portrays God’ anointing my head with oil’, which illustrates the giving of the Spirit. Then he demonstrates the abundance of God’s supply with ‘a cup overflowing.”
God builds on this pattern when through the prophet Jeremiah, He says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Living water is what flows from the Source. God is that Source from which all understanding flows, and those who trust Him with all their heart, leaning not on their own understanding but in all your ways, submit to Him; God will make their paths flow straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) Jesus carries this further when “On the last day, and the culmination of the Feast of Tabernacles, He stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.” (John 7:37-38 NLT) One of the main ceremonies of the festival was the rite of the water libation. On the first morning of Sukkot, a procession of priests went down to the Siloam pool to bring a golden water container to the Temple sufficient for the seven days of the feast. The water was brought up with a grand ceremony. This was an act of prayer and an expression of dependence upon God to pour out His water blessing as He did from the rock in the wilderness. The water libation rite reached its climax on the feast’s last or “great” day. The priests circled the altar seven times and then poured the water with great pomp and ceremony. With Jesus’ offer of ‘Living Water,’ He is inviting us to be filled with understanding from the very Source of all things. His work as our High Priest has made way for us to be redeemed and made holy. Because we are made holy as He is holy by accepting His work of salvation on the cross, we can bear the presence of the Spirit in our being just like the Tabernacle of old. By this, we are assured of redemption and freed from this life dominated by sin and death.
When we are flowing with the river’s high waters, it is definitely likened to God’s goodness and mercy flowing all the days of my life as I dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:1-6 KJV) We can enjoy this life-giving flow of living water by choosing to accept Jesus’ invitation and live in obedience to His word. I pray you are refreshed today by taking in the Living Water, which is the Spirit, and enjoying the flow of an extraordinary journey with Jesus.
Written by David Brown: David is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Think About This: “In God’s eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who treat life as a temporary assignment, and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity.” – Rick Warren