Summary: When we become downcast God is there to restore us.
Two guys are walking through the woods and come across this big deep hole.
"Wow...that looks deep."
"Sure does... toss a few pebbles in there and see how deep it is."
They pick up a few pebbles and throw them in and wait... no noise.
"Jeeez. That is REALLY deep... here.. throw one of these great big rocks down there. Those should make a noise."
They pick up a couple football-sized rocks and toss them into the hole and wait... and wait. Nothing.
They look at each other in amazement. One gets a determined look on his face and says, "Hey...over here in the weeds, there's a railroad tie. Help me carry it over here. When we toss THAT sucker in, it's GOTTA make some noise."
The two men drag the heavy tie over to the hole and heave it in. Not a sound comes from the hole.
Suddenly, out of the nearby woods, a sheep appears, running like the wind. It rushes toward the two men, then right past them, running as fast as it's legs will carry it. Suddenly it leaps in the air and into the hole.
The two men are astonished with what they've just seen... Then, out of the woods comes a farmer who spots the men and ambles over.
Hey... you two guys seen my sheep out here?
You bet we did! Craziest thing I ever seen! It came running like crazy and just jumped into this hole!
Nah, says the farmer, That couldn't have been MY sheep. My sheep was chained to a railroad tie.
You have to appreciate sheep humor in part because it’s really hard to find a good sheep joke, and I’m still looking. But I tell this joke so that we can remember who sheep are and try and think like they think. This is important for the next couple of weeks because the 23rd Psalm is written from the sheep’s perspective. Yes we can say that in here we find promises of God, that these are the things that God does for us, but the Psalm is written by David from the point of view of a sheep.
Because David was a shepherd, he understood the depths of the statement that “the Lord is my Shepherd.” He understood the depth of care and sacrifice that entailed. We saw last week that there is more to the sheep lying down in green pastures then simply saying good night sheep, they need be free from fear, strife, and need. We also so that there is much more to the still water then we first imagine.
Today we’re going to look at the next verse, as we look at this passage let’s stand and read it together. Psalm 23:1-6, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Today we’re going to begin by looking at the phrase, “He restores my soul.” Have you ever felt like your soul needed restoration? We all do and we can learn something from the literal sheep. The most common time when sheep need restoration is when they become cast. Now this doesn’t mean that they have a part in a play, what it means is that somehow someway they have turn up onto their back with their feet up in the air.
So you can picture what a problem this is, a sheep alone, in the wild, flat on it’s back with it’s legs flailing in the air. But it’s even worse then it sounds. As they’re on their back flailing away gases begin to build up in their stomach, if they don’t find a way to relieve those gases the eventually they will die, under normal circumstances this can take a few days, but on a hot day it can be a matter of hours. We can be just like those sheep we can appear to be fine and suddenly find ourselves in mortal danger.
It’s not just a matter of literal life but our spiritual life. We can be strolling along and wham we get hit with a temptation that we know we should say no to, but we don’t and now there are consequences that we’re going to have to deal with. Or one of the tragedies of life blindsides us and now we’re questioning God and everything else about our entire existence.