When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "He Restores My Soul."


The Lord is my Shepherd     Leader and Keeper
Psalm 23:3

Good Morning; God has us preaching through Psalm 23, and this is the third message and we’ll be focusing on the third verse. We talked about "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). Then we looked at The Lord is my Shepherd in verse two "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters" (Psalm 23:2). This week we’ll investigate the third verse "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

In a moment we’ll read the entire psalm, and the series is dealing with the subject; “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

Turn with me to Psalm 23 and keep it open there in your lap.

We’ve learned that it is the nature of a sheep to wander and to stray; it is the nature of a sheep sometimes to get away from the Shepherd. But, it is the nature of the shepherd to restore His sheep.

So let’s read Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)
1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Let’s pray: Father, I thank You for all of Your grace and mercy, I praise Your name for Your wonderful words of comfort and Your promise that nothing can ever pluck me out of Your hand. Thank You that no matter what I do, You have made provisions to restore me and lead me along life’s path, for the honor of Your name. Keep me, I pray, from wandering far from You and may all I do, from this day forward, be to Your honor and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

Now we are going to focus on The Lord is my shepherd ... He restoreth my soul". I want to talk about how to get right with God and how to stay right with God, and if you are right with God or when you do get right with God, how to stay right with God.

That's what David is talking about in Psalm 23:3: "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."           

Many of us become what some refer to as backsliders they’re not lost just out of fellowship with God. The Bible says God speaks of Himself as being married to the Church, even the backslider; there is a bond there that cannot be broken by God. But, while that relationship with God cannot be broken by God, that fellowship with God can be broken and the joy can be lost; and therefore, David prayed in Psalm 51:12 "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." He lost the joy of his salvation, and he wanted to be restored' and God did restore him, and David could say, "He restoreth my soul" (Psalm 23:3).

I don’t have to tell most of you that the Lord restores us; so let me give you three wonderful truths. Truths that I have not only studied; I have my own personal experience. Three truths that will keep us, that will get us right, and keep us right from Psalm 23:3 three things the Lord Jesus does when His sheep stray.

The very first one I'm going to mention is what I'm going to call the ministry of the Shepherd. And, incidentally, there are three kinds of sheep that need to be restored.

There's what we’ll call the stubborn sheep. You know any stubborn sheep? You might go home and look in the mirror and you may see one. Stubborn sheep are sheep that just want their own way.   

We think of sheep as being gentle, and docile, and easily led, but sometimes sheep can be very stubborn. Isaiah said "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). We want our way; we get very stubborn, and sometimes, stubborn sheep need to be restored.

Another kind of sheep that needs to be restored are straying sheep. These are sheep that don't willfully go away. They just carelessly go away. Many times, they fall into pits, they get entangled in the thorns, and they get away from the Shepherd. They get in precarious places; and they need to be restored, and they need to be brought back to the fold.

Then there's a third kind of sheep that needs to be restored, the sick sheep. Sheep can get sick. There are many diseases, and many things that might poison, or ensnare, or wound the sheep. So, sick sheep need to be restored.

It’s the ministry of the Shepherd that restores these sheep. How He does it? Well, if you're a stubborn sheep He has three instruments; first of all, He has a rod; then, He has a staff; and then, He has a bottle of oil. He uses them to restore the sheep.

The Rod: The shepherd would go out and find a little sapling; he would dig that sapling up by the root. The shepherd would cut the sapling off about a waist length; and then, he would begin to cut away the roots. Finally, he would have a knob left on the end of that staff a little bigger than his fist, and he would work it until it was just right. He would smooth that staff down; and then, he would take that knob on the end and begin to drive stones or bits of metal in it, until it was heavy and weighted. It became a very powerful club, a weapon in his hand.

He would be out there on the hillsides with nothing to do except watch the sheep and practice throwing that rod. He would throw it and throw it. It became a deadly missile. He also knew how to use it as a club. It was used to protect himself from the robbers. It was used to protect the sheep from the lions, and the wolves, and the wild dogs, and the scavengers that would be there on the hillside.

But sometimes, he had to use the rod on the sheep; the rod itself would become a form of correction to the sheep. If there would be a very stubborn sheep, the shepherd would do something very drastic.

He would take that rod, and break one of the legs of that sheep. After he had done that, he would immediately bind it and put it in a splint. He would carry that sheep with the broken leg on his shoulders, and nurture it, and pour oil into the wound. And then, finally, when that leg was healed, he would restore the sheep to its feet.

An interesting thing, that sheep that had been broken and healed would stay very close to the shepherd. In the materials I've studied, I found out that kind of a sheep would just stay right there by the shepherd's leg. Everywhere the shepherd went that sheep would just want to be very close. He would be the file leader who would lead the other sheep, the one who had been broken and the one who had been restored.

The same God that breaks us is the same God that binds us, in order that we might return to Him. I got to thinking that's exactly what David meant when he said, "Before I was afflicted I went astray" (Psalm 119:67). And then, he said, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted" (Psalm 119:71).

What God does sometimes is to chastise the sheep, not because He doesn't love the sheep but because He does love the sheep. "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness" (Psalm 23:3).

When this kind of chastisement comes to us, if we've been a stubborn sheep, there are three things we can do. Hebrews tells us about them.

For one, you can resent it. (Hebrews 12:5): "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord." Now, it'd be very foolish for you to resent the chastening of the Lord. I’ll give you three reasons why.                                            

Number one: that kind of chastening reveals that you are a Son of God; it reveals your son-ship. Look in (Hebrews 12:6): the Bible says, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

It wasn't that the shepherd didn't love that sheep when he applied the rod. It was that he did love the sheep. Sometimes, it takes something severe but it only reveals that you are a child of God—that He loves you.

God is not in business primarily to make us healthy or happy, but to make us holy; God didn't save us to take us to Heaven. That's just a fringe benefit. God saved us to make us holy like Him. And so, what does this chastening do when He restores the sheep? It reveals our son-ship; it renews our worship. And, something else; it restores our fellowship.

Has God ever laid the rod on you? Let me ask a question: When you were a child, and your Dad had to punish you and spank you, did you say, "Oh, this is so wonderful! I'm so glad this is happening to me. My dad's licking the daylights out of me and raising blisters but I'm just so happy. Praise the Lord! Dad, you're a wonderful dad. Thank you, dad. You're so wise and kind"?

No, we didn't do that. We gave them reverence, because we know that they had a standard. I pity children who live in homes where the parents don't love them enough to correct them.

"No chastening for the present time seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: [but] afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them [that] are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). "Before I was afflicted," David said, "I went astray" (Psalm 119:67).

That's the first thing you can do: you can despise it. Something else you might do when it comes: you can faint under it. Hebrews 12:5: "Have [ye] forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." Don't despise it, and don't faint under it.

Have you ever seen people faint when chastisement comes? They get away from God. God brings chastisement, and they just drop out, they just throw up their hands, they just quit. They become spiritual dropouts. That's a terrible thing. God's not doing that to draw you away from Him but to draw you back to Him.

Okay, don't despise it, and don't faint under it, but be exercised by it. The Bible says we "are exercised thereby" That means that God has a purpose. How does the shepherd deal with a stubborn sheep? With the rod of chastisement.

Okay, how does the shepherd deal with the straying sheep? The shepherd would get another long sapling, and he would cut this one off above the root. And, it would be about the size to just fit in his hand like the handle of a baseball bat, but it would be long and willowy. He would take that sapling and soak it in water while it was green and pliable until he could bend it, and tie it, and let it dry and season. There was a crook; we call it the shepherd's crook. It was just big enough to go around the chest of a little lamb and just big enough to go around the neck of a sheep. And, with that staff, he would guide the sheep.

It became an instrument in his hand, and he would guide the sheep and retrieve the sheep. He knew how to use this. He would walk along and just touch the sheep with it. He'd put it around the neck of a sheep that is straying and pull the sheep in. When the sheep is walking along a narrow path that he might fall off, he would take that staff and he would lay it on the sheep's shoulder and just guide the sheep. When the sheep would get down in the briars he would put that staff in there and pull that sheep out of the briars. When the sheep would get down in the mud, he would put that staff down there and lift that sheep—that lamb—out of the mud.

Do you remember what David said in Psalm 40:2? "He hath lifted me up from the miry clay. He hath 
set my feet upon a rock and established my goings and leads me in the paths of righteousness." He's talking about the same thing. He would take that staff, and he would guide, and guard, and lift, and retrieve that sheep to him.

Sometimes, a mother sheep—an ewe—would neglect her lamb. Sometimes she would get so concerned with the things that she wanted to do. Sometimes she wanted to feed here; sometimes she wanted to nibble there and she would forget her lamb. The shepherd sees that, and he would take his shepherd's crook; and draw the lamb and draw the mother sheep back together, because the shepherd knew that if that mother neglected that lamb too long, after a while she would forget about it altogether. And, that little lamb would miss what it needed most next to the shepherd's tender care—the care of that old ewe sheep.

I thought, "Oh my God, how the Shepherd needs to do that today—to draw these mamas and these babies backs together! And, this day, when the devil is doing all he can do to break up homes, the Shepherd there is guiding with this staff. And, when we fall, when we're weak, oh, we get away from God and we get in sin, we get in the briars, we get in the mud, we get into difficulty; thank God He has that staff—that love, that grace—that draws us back to Him!"

Then, there's a third thing: there were the sick sheep. You see, each night, the shepherd would bring the sheep into the sheepfold. 

When they were all in he would caress them. He would put his hands all over the sheep and rub his fingers down into the wool, he would be looking for a bruise, he'd be looking for a scab, he'd be looking for a wounded place, he'd be looking for a laceration. When the shepherd would find that kind of a place, he would pour on the healing oil. He would anoint the head of that sheep with oil. And, that oil was there to soothe, and to medicate, and to heal, and to lubricate—to give comfort to a suffering sheep.

That oil would be mixed also with sulfur and tar; it was also used to repel insects. Sheep have a pest that bothers them called nose-flies that get up into wounds and places in the nose, and this oil would be smeared there on the sheep's nose to give comfort and protection from those pests.

Thank God for the oil of the Holy Spirit that protects us from the devil's flies! Thank God for that comfort when we've been bruised and hurt, and when we're wounded and when we're limping, the Shepherd—He knows, He cares, He feels, He calls those sheep by name. He knows them one by one, and He restores them, and heals them, and binds them, and brings them back to Himself. I think David had all of those things in mind when he said, "He restoreth my soul" (Psalm 23:3).

I think David had been stubborn and been broken. I think David had strayed and been retrieved. I 
think David had been hurt and been wounded and had been healed by the Lord. Thank God for the ministry of chastisement. Thank God for the ministry of correction. Thank God for the ministry of comfort. And, I thought about it in my own life, and I know I'm here today because the Good Shepherd has kept me with His rod, with His staff, and with His bottle of oil.

Can't you remember the times when He put on the rod? Can't you remember the times when He took that staff, and lifted you, and forgave you? And, can't you think of those times when the tender Shepherd poured in the oil, and caressed you, and told you He loved you, and healed that broken heart? Thank God for such a wonderful Shepherd! He restores my soul. The thing that got David right is what I want to call the ministry of the shepherd.

But, there was something else: the mastery of the Shepherd. Not only does He restore our soul (He leads us in the paths of righteousness); He restored us, that He might master us, that He might guide us. And, the problem with many of us is this: all we're interested in is getting restored.

If we don't go from restoration to righteousness, we're gong to be right back in the same old problem. You see, so many of us just simply want to get back right, but we don't get on the track of following God; and that's the reason that we get back where we were. A restored person ought to follow closer than ever. "He that's been forgiven much ought to love much" (Luke 7:47).

How many times are we going to fall and slip before we learn to stay close to the Shepherd? Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

Now, in order to follow the Shepherd, three things are necessary.

Number one: you've got to be obsessed with the Shepherd. You've got to love the Shepherd.

Number two: you have to observe the Shepherd. Sheep don't have good eyesight. You have to stay close to the shepherd.

And, number three: you have to obey the Shepherd. "My sheep hear my voice"—"[they] hear my voice" (John 10:27).

We can't obey anybody whose voice we don't hear. How are we going to hear our Shepherd's voice? How are we going to see our Shepherd? We're going to have to have that quiet time in the green pastures, chewing upon His Word, meditating upon the Word of God. That's the way the Shepherd is going to lead us and guide us.

We are going to hear His voice in the Word. Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). And, He said, "[I've] come that [ye] might have life... and have it... abundantly" (John 10:10). He will lead us in the paths of righteousness. That's the mastery of the Shepherd.

What's wrong with so many of us is we're just always trying to get out of trouble rather than to get into righteousness. I mean, it's all negative.

I am grateful that He restores us. I'm grateful that when we're down, He gets us up; when we're down, He gets us up; when were down, He gets us up. But, wouldn't you like to get up and stay up? I mean, wouldn't you like to get off the defensive and get on the offensive?

Wouldn't you like to be a force for God rather than just simply being a casualty always being restored? You see, the problem with so many is they have a restoration mentality. "He [restores] my soul"—but, after the ministry of the shepherd, there needs to be the mastery of the shepherd—"he [leads] me in the paths of righteousness" (Psalm 23:3).

Why don't you, today, determine that you are going to get right with God and stay right with God—that you're going to hear the voice of your Shepherd, you're going to get into the Word of God and not find yourself back in the briars, or down in the pit, or down in the mud, or down in wharever again?

There's a third thing, the majesty of the Shepherd. Listen to it: "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me 
in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalm 23:3)—His name, get this, His name.

You see, God's name—God's honor—is at stake by the way you live and the way I live. Are you aware that the name Jehovah is judged by the people in this room? I mean, people get their idea of what kind of a shepherd there is because of what kind of sheep there are. The shepherd's reputation is based on the activity, and the welfare, and the obedience of the sheep. That ought to keep us straight.

Let me give you a verse, and then I'm going to be finished. 2 Timothy 2:19: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." "He [leads] me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalm 23:3). What a Shepherd! Thank God for His ministry, His mastery, and His majesty!

In Jesus’ Name, Amen!