walk in the word
1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. —Psalm 23:1-3
Today we continue our spiritual feeding on David’s great psalm. The familiar phrase, “He restores my soul,” is actually a statement of conclusion. In other words, green pastures and still waters are the way God restores our souls. And if we stop long enough to let God speak to us, we’ll discover that our souls need His restoring.
Look at the expression “He restores my soul.” The literal translation is He causes my life to return. The word restore means replenish, to return to its original state. Restoring my soul means God keeps me going and gives the enjoyment of life back to me. Notice it’s not some general or physical restoration—“He restores my soul.”
Soul is a very important word in the Bible. The Hebrew term nephesh can be translated soul, life, heart, or mind. Nephesh is the word used in Genesis 2:7 to describe what happened when God breathed into the clay figure He had made: “The man became a living creature [or soul].” Soul refers to the immaterial part of you that will survive beyond this life. The central thing that is most you about you is your soul. Your soul relates and responds to God.
So, if God continually “restores my soul,” how does He do it? First, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” In Hebrew, “green pastures” literally means the tender grass. In sheep terms, it’s rich, lush feeding places from which the flock need never move to be satisfied. Green pastures represent for us the bread of life that is God’s Word and God’s Son (see Luke 4:4; John 6:35). He provides all the nourishment we need, and we need it continually.
Those who really know God, also know He “makes” us lie down sometimes. We’re not smart enough or willing enough to do many things for our own good. But our Shepherd will do what He needs to do to get us where we need to be—in green pastures—so He can restore our souls.
Second, “He leads me beside still waters.” God says, What are you doing over there? C’mon over here. This is where the water is quiet. This is where you can be refreshed. My living water is deep and plentiful. And it restores your soul. Sheep are scared by troubled waters, and so are we. God provides the still waters of His thirst-quenching presence. He can satisfy your deepest longings every time you turn to Him (see John 7:37–38).
Notice the word beside. This isn’t some down-to-the-river-and-out-again experience. Beside the still waters is where you can live your life. It isn’t a monthly or a weekly thing; it’s a daily, continuous replenishing. You’re walking with Christ beside still waters, drinking in His presence. You’re alone with Him, not thinking about the time. It’s quiet . . . and He’s restoring you.
God wants to make you lie down in green pastures and lead you beside still waters. He wants to restore your soul. Are you making it your daily habit to let Him?
Lord, I thank You now and always for Your faithful work in restoring my soul. Your mercies are new every morning, and I need them! Thank You for scouting out the green pastures and still waters I need in my life, and for leading me to them, even when I am reluctant to follow. You always know when my soul needs restoring, and You do what’s needed to get me there. Please accept my gratefulness, and help me follow your lead more faithfully today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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