Psalms 23:1-3 says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.”
In this famous Psalm, God’s care for us is compared to a shepherd caring for sheep. Notice the sheep are well fed. They are led to rest in a green, lush pasture. They are also led to water. Someone once told me that sheep will not drink from fast flowing water, especially near rapids. They prefer quiet water. This tells us that God provides for us by providing what is most suitable.
But what about the phrase, “He restoreth my soul?” How do you restore the soul of sheep? Do sheep even have souls? What is the meaning of this?
The word can mean “soul,” but it can also be translated “life.” I think Phillip Keller gives a good word picture. He says this refers to a sheep that has tumbled onto his back. Evidently, sheep with a large fleece can become stuck on their backs. They kick and flail about. Without help, they may stay in that position until they die. The shepherd comes and restores them to an upright position.*
Do you ever feel you’ve been knocked for a loop? That the events of life have left you flailing about? Remember, God not only provides for our basic needs, he also gets us back on our feet.
*Phillip Keller, “He Restoreth My Soul,” Excerpts from: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 part 4, Antipas, http://www.antipas.org/commentaries/articles/shepherd_psa23/shepherd_04.html.
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