June 29, 2020by Reverend Dan on June 29, 2020
“He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake.”
“He restores my soul.” Sheep are careless and only want to satisfy their own hunger, so they wander, and they stray. They get lost. It’s then that the shepherd goes and finds them and brings them back to where they need to be.
Sometimes the sheep would fall in a crevice between two rocks, or sometimes they would simply tip over walking on uneven ground. The term for a sheep like that is “cast down” – lying flat on its back with its feet flailing in the air. When they’re in that position, they can’t get up. And when they were in that position a predator could pounce on them. When this happens to sheep, they panic. Then that causes gasses to build up in their body, which cuts off circulation in their legs, and they die in a matter of hours.
When a sheep goes missing, the first thought to flash through the shepherd’s mind is that one of his sheep may be cast down. And he knows that buzzards and coyotes know that a sheep cast down is easy pickings. When the shepherd finally finds the sheep, he rolls it over and lifts it to its feet. Then he straddles the panicked animal, holding it up, rubbing its limbs to restore circulation, while talking to it gently.
What a picture of what God does for us when we stray. He seeks us out when we have lost our way and wandered off, and He reaches down and picks us up. He loves us and brings us back into the flock and restores our souls. He makes us whole again.
David knew all about this. That whole incident with Bathsheba for example. He strayed – thought only about himself – adultery and then murder to cover it up - and he needed to be restored. So, when he wrote this psalm, he knew personally what God the shepherd can do.
The last thing God provides for us in this psalm is righteousness. “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The word used for “paths” here meant a “well-worn trail.” One that you know is good and safe and takes you in the right direction. Not some off the beaten track back road that leads to danger. God longs to lead us in paths of righteousness. He wants us headed the right way. Most of us know the road we should take but our selfishness and sinfulness often lead us astray, down the wrong road. But as long as we follow God, the Great Shepherd, we are on the path of His choosing.
The Shepherd provides us a personal relationship, He meets our needs, He makes sure we have rest, He restores us, and He leads us in the paths of righteousness. He provides for us in every way. Thanks be to the shepherd.
“Father, Thank you for all you do for us in providing our every need. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”