He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. (Psalm 23:2–3—NKJV)

Does your soul need to be restored? Restoration carries many definitions. Restoration of a cherished possession (like a painting or car) to a close approximation of its former glory is one form. Restoration of a lost pet to its owner is a reestablishment of cherished companionship. Restoration of a marriage entails the removal of barriers militating against harmony and replacing them with good habits founded upon trust. Restoration of your health is the healing of the body to the degree that is fitting for an average person of your age. But, just what is the thought behind a restored soul?

The pastoral setting of Psalm 23 tends to make you think of the salutary effects of a good vacation. Rests in green pastures and walks by still waters certainly sound refreshingly good for both the body and the soul! What you need to remember is that David is not speaking about a sheeply vacation; he is telling you what a good shepherd does for his sheep every day, every season. This is a shepherd’s commonplace care for his sheep.

Sheep are not known as brave animals; they are quite timid. They are certainly not the smartest in the animal kingdom. They are neither fearsome in mane nor demeanor, and do not have a roar that gets your notice. But they do have some things going for them. They know who their shepherd is and are fiercely loyal to him. More importantly, they have a shepherd, and he values them. Sheep would not last long without a good shepherd. Our text details God’s shepherding of the believer’s soul in the context of a good-hearted shepherd caring for his precious flock of sheep.

The good shepherd sees to the feeding and care of the flock, and his wisdom is displayed in his leading. The places of his choice are always with the sheep’s need in mind.

The chapter starts with the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Our two verses enumerate four ways a good shepherd meets the needs of the sheep: 1) Sheep feed under the vigilant and protective gaze of their shepherd. 2) Sheep will find their thirst slaked only from quiet waters. 3) Each individual sheep in the shepherd’s flock is the unique object of his care. Regardless of the needs of the other sheep, this one sheep of Psalm 23 is restored by the hand of the shepherd no matter what the problem. 4) The paths the sheep tread are of the shepherd’s choosing, and the shepherd goes out in front to clear the way. This is not a dream vacation, it is the sheep’s life.

Things need to be restored when they are lost, worn or marred in their luster, and harried by use or abuse. A sheep’s restoratives would include being rejoined with the flock when he has been lost, having his basic needs met, seeing the enemy eradicated, settling his fears when a predator has been near, ministrations of healing when he has been wounded, quieting in the darkness of night when the assuring presence of the shepherd is made known to him, and knowing the cares of tomorrow are in another’s hands.

It is not a difficult exercise to draw the parallels to your soul’s restoration. David uses the same term in Psalm 51:10–12 where he confesses his sin and describes restoration as arising from a clean heart (center of his thinking, planning, and preparation to live life); right spirit (steadfast desire to be moral and clean in an enduring basis with no room for ambivalence); and consciousness of the presence of God (walking in fellowship with Him). His restoration is seen in his joy of salvation and motivation to serve in godliness.

Are you born again through faith in Jesus Christ so that you have life in Him? (Without salvation you have nothing to which to be restored spiritually.) If you are saved and are alive in Him, are you valuing the daily restoration that comes from the hand of the Good Shepherd? Is your trust growing? Trust and obey.