The Lord Restores My Soul

The Lord Restores My Soul

The Twenty Third Psalm is a three part series. If you missed Part One – The Lord is My Shepherd you should read it before reading this.

As we continue reading Psalm 23 we see the shepherd at work. He is the leader, provider and protector of his flock. He knows every animal by name, and values each one more than his own life. These verses take us to the heart of pastoral care.

Walking ahead of his sheep and calling them to follow, the shepherd finds fresh pasture to graze and safe places to drink. The shepherd takes care of his sheep in every way.

Psalm 23 – A Psalm of David

He restores my soul. (vs. 3)

As a shepherd leads his sheep to still waters for rest and cleansing, so the Lord restores and refreshes my soul! It is the Good Shepherd then, who in restoring our souls binds up our wounds, heals our sicknesses, and gives us strength in place of weakness.

The Lord (Jehovah Rapha – The God who heals) restores my soul, He restores my heart and the dreams once shattered are now replaced. He makes those things important which once were thought to be unimportant. He heals, showing that He knows where I am, and that He delights in me!

It is in the restoration of my soul, that I sense the Father’s love. It’s like the gleam in my earthly father’s eyes which said he loved me. I think maybe my heavenly Father had a gleam in His eyes also, when He knit me together in my mother’s womb. And as I look in the mirror I find that the Father has put the gleam back in my eyes! He restores my soul.

Strength returns and the Lord heals and creates life in me again, giving me the fullness of His heart. A heart of faith, love, hope and repentance, which I had compromised because I had become faint of heart. Now it becomes, once again, a heart confiding in God.

It is in that barren land of my soul that I am exposed to the delight of God’s heart once more. It is here that I become a woman who can show up once again to the battle and offer courage to many others who have suffered loss of heart!

He guides me in the paths of righteousness. (vs 3)

Sheep are notorious for straying, getting lost and taking the wrong path and falling into harm’s way. The shepherd knows this about sheep so he gently guides them, keeps them from getting lost and brings them safely back home.

The Shepherd knows I can be a lot like those sheep. In restoring our souls, He makes us hunger and thirst for righteousness. Righteousness is following the divine and moral law of God. It means in spite of what the world says we still have to take a stand for the things of God.

So He instructs me by His word, and He gave me the Holy Spirit to enable me to walk the paths He leads me down. When I stray from the path God has put me on, the Holy Spirit taps me on my heart, turns me around and says, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

The Lord restores our emotions, He gives us joy in the morning. (Psalm 30:5) That doesn’t mean we will cry all night but the next morning everything will be ok. It means the “dark night of the soul” may last for a season, but we will know joy again. In restoring our emotions, the Shepherd does not promise to keep us from all sadness, but He does promise that His joy is always waiting for us on the other side of our seemingly endless suffering. He will turn our mourning into dancing and replace our sackcloth with new garments of joy.

The Good Shepherd brings restoration to our minds. He changes our way of thinking by reminding us to look at everything with His perspective in mind. When we do He makes us wise and discerning. We no longer think as the world thinks, we look at life from God’s point of view. Instead of being self-focused we become God-focused. Instead of thinking the Shepherd is out to harm us, we embrace His love and ask Him what He is up to. As He restores our mind, this new way of understanding redefines who we are and how we live. We begin to hear and understand and know the voice of the Shepherd.

I can walk confidently knowing that God is going to lead me down the right path, guiding me each step of the way, knowing He will bring me safely home.

I need to remember that.

For His name’s sake. (vs 3)

Why does the Lord desire us to be on the right paths? It is for His name’s sake. For His name’s sake simply means for the reputation of God.

You may think that God can take care of His own reputation and you would be right. However, how people view Him in light of our behavior may cause them to believe that God is not worthy to be recognized as Holy and surrender their lives and follow Him.

God’s name is the name above every name. He does these things so that all who see will know that He alone is God. He is not doing any of this for my name’s sake, but for His.

How do you protect God’s reputation? The way I walk is making Him known to all who are watching. I need to be mindful of the way I live life, not just on Sundays but 24/7. I need to live so that I bring honor and glory to Him in all that I do, in my marriage, in my parenting, in my job and in my ministry etc. My mantra should be “To know Him and make Him known!” 

I need to remember that.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. (vs 4)

Even when sheep go through a dangerous valley, the shepherd is beside them. At the end of the day, the shepherd leads the flock back to the fold and stands by the open door to examine each one as it enters.

As I read this verse I am reminded that it that flowed from the heart of King David during a dark, painful time in his life. King David was experiencing a very difficult time, a time of hardship, great danger and deep suffering. In a broken world, these will invade our lives too. At some point we will also make that long, slow, painful walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.” 

You may be walking in the valley even now. As I write I just returned from the area in town where an F3 tornado destroyed 344 homes and damaged countless others. I can’t even begin to fathom the darkness that overshadows the lives of the victims. As I’ve prayed for those I know and those I don’t know, whose lives were changed in an instant Easter night, a thought illumined the darkness that blanketed my heart as I prayed. In order for there to be a shadow, there must also be a light. That light is Jesus, the Light of the world. Jesus walks through the valley with us, always by our side. We are not alone!

Jesus is the Light, but He is also the Great Shepherd, who walks with us and guides us. He will comfort us with His presence, even in the valley of the shadow of death!

If I find myself in a valley of deep darkness (or shadow of death), I don’t need to be afraid, the Lord is with me and will guide and protect me, so that I can rest. When I begin to feel that fear welling up inside me – I need to refocus – and know that the Lord is my Shepherd and I am His sheep.

The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom I shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and my foes they stumbled and fell. (Psalm 27:1-2)

I need to remember that.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (vs 4)

A shepherd carried a “rod” to fend off wild animals (1 Sam 17:43; 2 Sam 23:21) and a “staff” to keep the sheep in control. These represent God’s constant watch care over His own and brings “comfort” because of His personal presence and involvement with His sheep.

God has authority over my enemies. Even if I stumble, lose faith, lose heart, lose my grip on God’s words and become weak and afraid, I am able to trust God for the victory! He will never leave or abandon me! (Hebrews 13:5)

I can find comfort in knowing that God is El Roi, the God who sees all, and that nothing escapes His notice! (Psalm 139:7-12)

I am one of His sheep and He will deal with anyone who messes with one of His sheep!

I need to remember that.

Something to think about

As I feed on the richness of God’s Word and I’m cleansed in the still waters, I am refreshed and restored! Life takes on a whole new perspective and I am able to look ahead with expectation once again. But that only happens as I get to know MY Great Shepherd! The way I get to know my God is through His Word, prayer and obeying what He says.

Our restoration is also not simply individual. The Shepherd is never the shepherd of just one sheep. He is the Shepherd of the flock. In restoring the individual lives of the sheep, He also restores the life of the flock. He makes it a flock of healthy and strong sheep, able to band together for the good of the flock.

None of this restoration is instantaneous. The healing of the sick and the wounded takes time. The strengthening of those who are weak takes time. The renewing of the mind takes time. The Good Shepherd uses the flock in the restoration of the individual. As the individual grows stronger, he in turn is used by the Shepherd in the restoring of others. May we remember our restoration is not only about us, but part of God’s bigger plan! The Good Shepherd restores our souls so that we may be used by Him in the restoring of the souls of others.


Joy in the Shadow of Great Failure

Joy in the Shadow of Great Failure

The Man was handsome; he had red hair, beautiful eyes and he loved God with all of his heart. But the thing that drew many people to him was the fact that he was probably the most joyful man they had ever encountered. His eyes twinkled and it is rumored that he was known to have danced freely in the streets as a younger man.

If you were to stop and ask about his story he would joyfully share it with you, leaving nothing out and capturing your heart with each twist and turn and ultimately surprising you with the ending. But rather than leave you hanging you can read it for yourself!

The Man was the youngest son of 8 children born to a hard workingman, who believed boys needed to learn how to work. As a boy his father taught him about God and he was a good student. While working for his father The Boy’s faith not only grew wide but it grew deep. The Boy learned how to overcome his fears and stand courageous, lessons that served him well later as he served as a commander in the military.

It was evident to all around that there was something special about The Boy. A stranger came to town and he saw it too and prayed a blessing over the young man.

The Boy understood who his God was and the covenant relationship they had. So when he arrived on the scene of a man bullying his brothers and their cohorts, calling God names and mocking Him, The Boy couldn’t simply stand by and watch. He had to take action and the young man knew God would be with him. Although the bully taunted him too, The Boy stood firm, faced the intimidator and literally stopped him dead in his tracks.

His bravery drew the attention of all who heard and they sang his praises for taking care of the bully. When The Leader in the community heard the story, he took The Boy under his wing and invested in his life. The Boy learned a lot from The Leader during the journey they travelled together. In fact, even though their time together was not always pleasant it was a time of great spiritual formation for The Boy.

Along that journey The Boy made a friend, not an ordinary friend but one that he loved like a brother. He was the kind of friend that you are fortunate to have during a lifetime. The two were inseparable!

The Boy became a young man and he grew in wisdom and strength and was loved by all, well almost everyone. The Man served The Leader well and honored him despite some questionable business practices and a growing spirit of jealousy. It was a jealousy that came from understanding that The Man was a man of integrity and that he loved God with his whole heart. Eventually The Leader’s jealousy got the best of him and he orchestrated circumstances to get rid of the young man. The Man left saddened by the way things had turned out.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances The Man understood authority and honored The Leader who was in authority, not only over him but the whole community. The Man did not bad mouth him, nor did he try to get The Leader removed from his position. As a result God honored that and eventually removed The Leader from authority and placed The Man into that position.

It was apparent, just like when he was a young boy, that God’s hand was on The Man.

The Man was met with success as he continued his life journey in this new position God had placed him in. He drew on the life lessons he had learned under The Leader and led with a rare combination of love and strength always looking out for the best interests of those who served under him. The result was that not only was The Man blessed but all who were led by him and their families were too.

The Man was at the height of his career; he ruled over a vast empire and his capital was enriched with international assets. But, in the midst of all this success The Man fell and his character became stained with the sin of adultery.

The day started like any other, except that instead of going to work he stayed home. While looking out at the view from his house, he saw a beautiful young woman off in the distance and she caught his attention. The man asked about the young woman and found out she was the granddaughter of one of his longtime, faithful and influential staff members, and the wife of a younger and most trusted staff. Even knowing who she was, The Man asked one of his staff to invite her over. From that moment on his life changed drastically!

As you may have guessed The Man slept with the beautiful young woman that day. The Beautiful One soon found out she was pregnant with The Man’s child. Her husband had been off working a special assignment so The Man brought him home hoping that he would sleep with his wife and no one would know (including him) that the child wasn’t his. Unfortunately, the plan failed. The Man then, knowingly, sent him out on a very dangerous assignment where he was killed. After the appropriate amount of time passed for The Beautiful One to grieve, The Man married her. They would live happily ever after and no one would be the wiser.

However, that was not to be. God sent someone to bring home his crimes to the conscience of The Guilty Man.

The Man was broken and became truly repentant. He wept bitterly and confessed his sins before God, (holding nothing back). He had committed adultery, murder, and he lied to cover it up. The Man understood that God was the One against whom he had ultimately sinned.

God’s man explained that even though The Man was repentant, there would be serious consequences to pay. The child that was born to The Man and the Beautiful One would die (and he did) and that the sword would never depart from The Man’s household because he despised God and taken the Beautiful One to be his wife. He also told The Man that God would raise up evil against him from his own household, his family would have no respect for him and that He would give The Man’s wives to a companion and he will lie with them in broad daylight (and it happened just as God’s Man said it would).

The Man was King David, the ruler of Israel.

[Although this is a fanciful description of some of the key moments in his life, the essence is true. This man, a national hero, with a passion to serve God withstood temptation again and again as he was attacked. But at one point he failed, miserably.]

King David also is the author of about 80 of the Psalms. Psalms 32 and 51 reveal the deep struggles of his soul and his spiritual recovery. How could King David (The Man) live such a joy filled life and be called “A man after God’s own heart” after all that he did and the consequences he suffered because of it?

Good question!!! He experienced Joy in the Shadow of Great Failure the same way we can!

Because of the message the angel brought the shepherds that night – “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy for you and all people; today a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10–14) – we can all experience Joy in the Shadow of Great Failure!

Luke speaks of a global Gospel: the “Good News” is for everybody, not just the Jews! What was this good news? That God had sent a Savior, His Son Jesus Christ, to meet man’s greatest need, forgiveness of sins!

Having confessed his sins and repented, King David asked God to purify and wash him whiter than snow and to hear joy and gladness. He asked that God would create in him a new heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him. Then David asked God to “restore the joy of his salvation” and God did just that!!!

AFTER he sinned David continued to be known as a man after God’s own heart!

David’s career had been one of great prosperity and success prior to his sin. After becoming broken before the Lord, David did not allow his past failures to define who he was, instead David, having been restored by God, lived in the joy of his salvation.

What is keeping you from walking in the joy that is yours according to the message of the angels?

  • Is it that you have never experienced salvation?

• Could it be that you have never confessed and repented of your sins before God?

  • Or perhaps it is because you have not believed that God would do what He said He would do – restore you to the joy of your salvation.

Whatever it is won’t you determine today to make it right and to dance with joy, no matter the source of the shadows, on the platform where God has placed you!

To learn more about the life of King David I recommend you read 1 & 2 Samuel. You may be surprised by what you learn about “The man after God’s own heart”!


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