By Erin Bird
Let’s continue our series on Psalm 23. This week, we come to verse 3, which says:
“He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”
The first phrase in verse 3 is short, simple, and sweet. “He restores my soul.” Due to its brevity, you might be tempted to move on to the longer phrase. But let’s take a moment to look at the first part bit-by-bit.
First, think about the word “restore.”
This word assumes something is broken. If you read through many of the psalms that David wrote, you will see he was quite aware of his sin and general brokenness.
If you aren’t willing to admit your own brokenness apart from Christ, you can’t be “restored.” To be “restored” acknowledges you aren’t all put together yet.
Second, who does the restoring?
“He” does. Who is He? As we’ve already seen, Psalm 23 is about the Lord being “my” shepherd. So the “He” in verse 3 is God.
This is important to realize. Too often, we think WE have to work to clean up our act. We mistakenly believe we need to make ourselves stop swearing so much, or stop spending money so recklessly, or stop gossiping at work, or stop looking at people with sexual lust before we can come to God. But King David tells us it is GOD who does the work of restoring us. We just simply come to Him as a lamb comes to his shepherd.
Third, what is restored?
According to David, our “soul”is what God restores. According to Skye Jethani, when David uses the word “soul” in verse 3…
“We should not limit the word soul to mean the non-physical self, as if God cares for only part of us. “Soul” is often used in the Old Testament to mean life or the whole person.”
As a good shepherd and loving Heavenly Father, God doesn’t care only about your spiritual state. He cares about all of you.
Restored to Walk
Now, let’s look at the second half of verse 3. David says that God restores us so He might lead us in paths of righteousness. And why does He do this? Two reasons:
1. Our Sake
The gospel tells us that without Christ, by default we have broken and imperfect lives. Our souls are split, our spirits dead, and we are lost and separated from God. Without God sending Jesus to be the Perfect Lamb sacrificed in our place, we would remain separated from Him. So it was out of love for us that God sent Jesus so we might be restored.
2. His Sake
But David shockingly points out in verse 3 that God’s restoration of us wasn’t simply for our sake, it was actually for His name’s sake! God actually finds joy in restoring you through the gospel. He is glorified when one of his lambs is healed and restored. It brings honor to Him and causes His reputation to radiate throughout history and cultures.
So if you are feeling broken today, run to God. Let your Good Shepherd restore your soul, first inwardly, then outwardly, knowing you will not only find comfort and joy in the arms of your Shepherd, but He will have joy holding and restoring you as well.