The Most Healing Statement in the Bible
“He restores my soul” Psalm 23:3. If God cares for us like a shepherd for his sheep, then this can only mean that He lives to rescue us. The Hebrew word “restores” carries broad meanings. It means to recover, or bring back, or deliver, or refresh, or repair. The Shepherd rescues, it is His nature to do so.
When We Are In Trouble
This is our Shepherd’s activity in our lives when we are in trouble. And sheep can get into all kinds of trouble; ask any shepherd. A very common way that sheep get in trouble is called “cast.” It describes a sheep that has laid down on the ground and cannot get back up again on its own. Crazy, huh?
If a sheep’s wool has become too heavy, often a sheep can’t get back up again on its own. If it lies down in sort of an odd place on the ground that is not exactly level, often it can’t get back up again. If it lies down but doesn’t keep its feet under itself, the sheep may roll onto its side and not be able to right itself.
Sheep are nervous animals really prone to panic. Often a sheep that is “cast-down” will flail around on the ground until it dies of stress induced panic. Or because its digestive system stops working properly. Or it becomes vulnerable to attack by predators. Or it can simply die of dehydration or exposure. That’s a sheep without a shepherd.
But it doesn’t have to be you — if you are cast down …
Psalm 42:5–6 (ESV) Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
He restores my soul
Restores means to restore energy and strength. He not only gives me the strength rise up from being cast down. He Himself often raises His sheep up with no real help from them. It was common for a sheep in ancient flocks to wander away and fall into a pit. And the shepherd would search until he found the cast-down sheep and pull it out of the pit.
The Pit of Wrong Choices and Bad Decisions
This pit is an unintended destination. Wrong choices and bad decisions take a path always away from the Shepherd, and always into dangerous or hurtful or lost places. My history is a collection of them, and so is yours. All of us have been deeply affected by our own selfish and stubborn choices and decisions from the past.
But the wrong choices and bad decisions of the past don’t have to define you. They may have left their mark on you, but they don’t have to define who you can be, starting in the next moment. One cry from the sheep’s mouth will bring the Shepherd to your side. Ready to rescue, ready to forgive, ready to heal, ready to bring really good things into your life:
Psalm 103:2–5 (ESV)
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Pit of Sorrow and Despair
Sometimes we are pushed into the pit. It wasn’t our choice, but a bad circumstance or a careless person pushed us in. The result is the loss of something precious or valuable: a lost relationship, a lost ability, a lost source of security. Sorrow or despair can be a pit. Call out from that pit and the Shepherd will run to you:
Psalm 40:1–2 (NLT)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He can lift you out and put your feet on solid ground – your part in this is to call out to Him, then trust and wait and accept His lifting you out.
Find Encouragement Here
This could be the most encouraging thing: if you’re in a pit right now, the Shepherd is searching for you. Your part in the Shepherd pulling you out of the pit is simply to call out to Him. His nature is to rescue tenderly, to forgive totally, to forget forever, and to restore completely. You can be free from all the guilt and bondage and fear that the pit has caused in your life. Cling to the Shepherd’s hand, let Him lift you out of the sorrow and despair.