This verse is from a familiar passage of Scripture that is often read at funerals, where Psalm 23 is known as The Shepherd’s Psalm.
I cannot help but think how much this verse addresses the soul of those who have been saved through repentance from sin and through faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation.
The soul of every unbelieving person remains apart from God and apart from the atonement of sin through Jesus Christ. What we think is righteousness before God remains but a filthy rag before Him (Isaiah 64:6) because we choose to make the way of salvation and forgiveness through our own way rather than by humility and submitting ourselves to the atonement of Christ and His cross.
When a person comes to faith in Christ, realizing that the entirety of their sin has been placed upon Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:5-6) a tremendous weight of judgment has been removed. What follows then, is often an inexpressible peace and joy in their life, knowing that it was not through their work that has saved them, but what God did in condemning sin in His Son, who knew no sin but was made to be sin for us, so that we could be found righteous before Him (Romans 8:3, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The peace this brings to the sinner whose soul has been restored by God because they have repented and found salvation through Jesus Christ!
It is God who restores the soul, not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. No amount of therapy sessions restores the soul the way God can. Only the cry of a repentant heart to God that grieves over their own sinfulness, how they casually trampled the blood of Christ, the very means that has covered their sin before God, walking over it like it was a doormat.
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:29.
Conversely, the soul of the unrepentant sinner fearfully holds back from coming to God to seek His forgiveness. The anxiety that exists in their heart, concerning their fear of His righteous judgment that will come, one day, without an advanced notice.
Yet the forewarning to repent and place their faith for salvation in Christ alone, the plea to become born again would continue to come to them through many people, even the same people.
This restoration of the soul, leads to walking in the righteousness of Christ on a daily basis. Though it is hard and often challenging, His name is glorified through those whom He has saved as they tell others of what God has done in and through their lives.
The temptation to sin never goes away once the sinner has been saved. In fact, the temptation becomes more enticing and at times regretfully, successful, in luring the Christian into sinning against God, the same sin that was placed upon Jesus Christ when He was crucified and brought peace to our souls.
Paul said of this constant war that took place within is a constant struggle between obeying the Spirit of God and the remaining desire of our flesh to find pleasure and satisfaction in the sinful behavior that was once enjoyable, but is now condemnable. (Romans 7:15:25, 8:3).
In Charles Spurgeon’s work, Treasury of David, Sir Richard Baker said of verse 3, “He restores my soul”, “He restores it to its original purity, that was now grown foul and black with sin; for also, what good were it to have "green" pastures and a black soul! He "restores" it to its natural temper in affections, that was grown distempered with violence of passions; for alas! what good were it to have "still" waters and turbulent spirits! He "restores" it indeed to life, that was grown before in a manner quite dead; and who could "restore my soul" to life, but he only that is the Good Shepherd and gave his life for his sheep?”
Some of the very same pleas that David cries out to God for, in the book of Psalms, are what many people have spoken to have their souls restored by God and countless many yet will speak, but in their hearts and minds, this is what they desire from God.
- “Hear a just cause, O LORD, attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.” Psalm 17:1.
- “For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” Psalm 25: 11.
- “I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil in my heart.” Psalm 38:8.
- "Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O LORD, my salvation!” Psalm 38:21-22.
- “I said, “LORD, be merciful to me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”” Psalm 41:4.
- “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1-2.
- “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:9-12.
- “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation.” Psalm 69:13.
- “Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me.” Psalm 71:2.
- “Help me, O LORD my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy,” Psalm 109:26.
Can you hear the cry of David's heart in these verses? Could any of these verses be the very cry of your own heart?
The Bible provides not only a word concerning God’s displeasure and hatred for sin, but it also contains His desire to see those plagued by sin, to seek His forgiveness and mercy that He is so ready to give those who come to Him with a humble and contrite heart. (Isaiah 57:15).
So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:13.
And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation. Psalm 35:9.
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10.
Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Spurgeon, C. Treasury of David, Psalm 23. Retrieved January 12, 2009 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/SPURGEON/TOD/chstp23.htm.