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.

 

The Lord is MY Shepherd!

The Lord is MY Shepherd!

As a young boy David tended his father’s sheep. (1 Sam 16:11) In the night watches he learned many valuable lessons for both life and his walk with the Lord. His encounters with the lion and bear prepared him for Goliath. Being anointed King by Samuel only to be sent back to the fields, taught him to trust God’s word even when his circumstances didn’t seem to line up with it.

The skills David learned shepherding his father’s flocks proved invaluable when the time came for him to lead God’s people. Many years later David uses his deep understanding rooted in his experiences in the valleys and in the shadows of death which surrounded him, to illustrate how God cares for His children in Psalm 23.

Psalm 23 has brought comfort to both believers and the lost as they read it and are able to personalize it.

I began writing to simply explore Psalm 23 and get a better understanding of it. But, as I wrote my thought processes began to morph and I have deleted much more than I’ve written. My thoughts meandered and I left the academic and gradually arrived at a destination that was not on my itinerary, a very personal place of rest which was God’s plan before I even began this journey.

I was reminded of my personal night watches and lessons learned and many still forming. Encounters, not with lions and bears, but with people. Encounters which have prepared me for different legs of my life journey, were brought into focus with understanding. An anointing received, yet to be realized. And I am learning to trust God even when I don’t understand.

This post is the first of a three-part series on Psalm 23.

Let the reading begin!

Psalm 23 – A PSALM OF DAVID

The Lord is MY Shepherd (vvs 1-2)

 

The LORD is MY shepherd, I shall not want. (vs. 1)

The Sovereign God, the covenant keeping God, the God of Israel is also a personal God who promises to take care of His people.

Jesus is the Great Shepherd who cares for the sheep. (Heb 13:20-21Jn 10:14) He even knows them by name! The picture here is that of a shepherd and his flock. As we follow Him, He takes care of us.

In fact, as one of His sheep I will want for nothing! I will not want for 

  Rest and refreshment (Ps 23:2)
• Restoration and righteousness (Ps 23:3)
• Protection (Ps 23:4)
• Provision (Ps 23:5)
• A place to call home (Ps 23:6)

Because I am in covenant with God, I never have to worry when I follow the Great Shepherd; He WILL protect me and provide for me!

Because the Lord was David’s Shepherd, his needs were met. When the Lord is MY Shepherd, I have whatever I need; and if I don’t have everything I desire, I can rest knowing it is either not beneficial for me, or the time is not right for me to have it.

MY Shepherd is THE GREAT Shepherd!

I need to remember that.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. (vs. 2)

It seems that sheep are stubborn. They don’t have enough sense to know when to lie down to rest, so there are times that the shepherd makes them lie down in the lush green pastures where the sheep don’t have to move from place to place to be satisfied. Sheep have been known to stay in one place and eat until they eat down to the dirt. So, a good shepherd moves them to green pastures where they don’t have to search for food to eat and they can rest.

I am a lot like those stubborn sheep! I don’t know when to rest and often I go from here to there looking to be satisfied. There is always something else that needs to be done, ministry opportunities which need to be taken, relationships needing to be nourished and the list goes on and on! I stay in those fields of opportunity grazing until before I realize I have become parched and dry!

As God’s child I can find spiritual food in the green pastures of God’s Word. It is milk for babies, pasture for sheep, never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but always a green pasture. (Heb 5:12-14)

Personally, I am in the Word on a daily basis – reading it, writing it, speaking it – yet at times I forget to feed on it.

It is at those times that God makes me to lie down in the green pasture of His word – feasting on its abundance, drinking in its healing and wisdom, gaining new strength.

Since I am so blessed with the green pastures of His Word, I need to be careful not to miss what God has for me there. I need to be intentional and not simply “run through” the fields of His Word but lay down in them and take up residence – rest in them.

It is there that I become quiet and content in my heart and mind, no matter what is raging around me. I can rest in Him.

I need to remember that.

He leads me beside quiet waters. (vs 2)

I have read that sheep are afraid of moving water. The least bit of movement and they will not approach the water; however, sheep will drink from still waters. A good shepherd leads his sheep beside the still waters. They are guided and led well. Not downstream, upstream or anywhere the waters are not still.

When life is swirling around me and I am pulled into its drama I become frenzied, fighting to overcome the rip tide that is pulling me away from my goal! In those times I long for a quieter place, a more peaceful pool where I can breathe without gasping for air, rest and not struggle to get to my destination. Only the Great Shepherd leads me to those waters – all I need to do is follow His leading.

I need to remember that.

As I said earlier this is part 1 of a 3-part series. You don’t want to miss the rest of the story!

Something to think about

Throughout the years the twenty third psalm has comforted people from all walks of life, in the most difficult circumstances. And why shouldn’t it? David writes from the heart about the lessons he learned during his night watches shepherding his father’s sheep.

David proclaims, “The Lord is MY Shepherd!” with an emphasis on “MY.” Alone in the fields all those nights gave him plenty of personal time with God. It was there that David grew in his understanding of who God is and his relationship with Him.

So much of our confusion and pain comes as a result of not knowing God — who He really is, how He works in our lives. Unfortunately, too often we spend more time reading books written by men and women about things in the Bible, listening to podcasts of great preachers and teachers rather than spending time alone with the Lord, reading His Word for ourselves. In a sense, we are eating “already been chewed food”, devoid of the nourishment which is essential for spiritual growth and a godly lifestyle, rather than feasting at His table.

The only way to truly KNOW God is by reading the Bible, spending time in prayer and obeying what God says.  When you know God more fully, you’ll gain power to stand strong in even the most difficult and unpredictable circumstances.  You’ll find strength for times of trial, comfort for pain, and provision for your soul’s deepest needs. You too will be able to say, “The Lord is MY shepherd!”

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