Heathdale flower 09th February 2024

He Restores My Soul

Delve into Psalm 23 with our Executive Principal, Mr Ross Grace, and discover what it means for God to be our shepherd.

Heathdale flower

My son Jonathan is an avid and prolific reader. Recently over dinner we were discussing his favourite books and especially ones that he has read several times.

As he started to list various titles, he mentioned that there is one book that is a standout for him, and he’s already read it five times. It is J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Despite the massive number of pages that this trilogy occupies, Jonathan commented that each time he’s read it, he has picked up something new! Reading it again and again is simply not an issue to him.

As Jonathan was talking, I found myself empathising with this sentiment of ‘I could read it again and again’ as this is how I feel about reading Psalm23 which many of us are familiar with as it is often recited in movies, novels, TV shows, funeral and countless other places. It is a Psalm I can never tire of reading as I feel each line has something significant to say, and each time I read it I feel like I get new insights.

If you are unfamiliar with Psalm 23, it reads like this:

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me by still waters, He refreshes my soul, He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; Your rod and Staff they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

As I was recently reading this wonderful Psalm again and for some unknown reason the phrase, “He restores my soul,” just seemed to leap off the pages towards me. What an incredibly encouraging and comforting statement this is!

As I let this statement swirl around inside my head, it occurred to me the author of Psalm 23, David, was referring to the constant care of God who is sometimes referred to as The Good Shepherd, who consistently providing His fullest protection and security for His sheep, His people.

David did not pen the words of Psalm 23 as if he were a shepherd, even though most of his youth was spent tendering his father’s flock. He penned this psalm from the perspective of being one of God’s flock. I pondered, what does David have in mind when he wrote ‘He restores my soul’?

Some Bible scholars believe it refers to the way in which God comes to us when we feel cast down and He sets us up on our feet again. The phrase ‘cast down’ first appears to be an Old English Shepherd’s term that describes when a sheep has fallen over, landed on its back and cannot right itself again. When a sheep finds itself in this position, if a shepherd doesn’t get to it quickly, the sheep starts to panic and can easily die of fright!

As human beings, we can also feel down cast. We may not be on our backs, legs thrashing about trying to right ourselves, but we can feel overwhelmed to the point we feel like we are being held to the ground on our backs and we need someone else to help us up.

It is at moments like this that followers of Jesus would ask themselves, “why are you down cast? Why is your soul so troubled as if there’s no hope?”

In asking these questions, as followers of Jesus, we are encouraged to recall this psalm and discern God’s heart and love for us. He is the provider of our hope. The divine Shepherd will not let you down. He is moving towards you and desires you to allow Him to pick you up and put you back on your feet again.

The prayer of the staff and me is that each of you will come to know and experience God’s love this day, this year in such a way that you too can know Him as David has described in Psalm 23. This is why reading it again and again is simply not an issue.