Restoration Leads To Righteousness
Reading Psalm 23v3.
Preacher Ken Humphries
What do the following names have in common?
Jacob: Samson: David: Simon Peter: John Mark: to mention but a few.
Well, they are all men who loved and served the Lord but for one reason or another found themselves out of fellowship with God, yet subsequently, found restoration to that sweet fellowship and whether their lives were long or short from that point onwards, displayed a true righteousness indicating that theirs was from the beginning, a true faith.
If you dear friend hear yourself saying today, Oh, No, not that subject again, then you can be sure at this very moment you are out of fellowship with God. There is no subject of greater enjoyment to the heart of true believers presently walking in fellowship with their Lord and Master.
Hosea, in Chapter 11v7 reminds us it’s the nature of the sheep to wander and stray. “And my people are bent on backsliding from me.”
The Hymn writer said it well:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love!
But if it is the nature of the sheep to roam then we need to understand it is also the nature of the shepherd to restore. No wonder Psalm 23 has such deep meaning for us. David, who had wandered more than once, says with great depth of feeling, “He restoreth my soul.”
Many of us become what the Bible calls backsliders, that is a saved person who is out of fellowship with God. Do you know, you could be in church every Sunday, sing the hymns heartily, follow the scriptural reading with interest, give a good offering into the plate, be knowledgeable about the Bible, be a church leader and even be a Pastor and be a backslider. But listen; our God reminds us He is married to the backslider Jer.3v14 He tells in that amazing phrase, there is a bond that cannot be broken but can be bettered.
On one such occasion David cried to the Lord that He would restore unto him the joy of his Salvation Psalm 51v12.
Dr. Vance Havner makes this comment: “Too much church work is being done by people who are not right with God and with each other, who know neither the joy of Salvation or a willing spirit”. End Quote!
So our text today, Psalm 23v3: “He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”, displays for us this wonderful ministry of the shepherd’s, restoration.
Now I believe there are three kinds of sheep that need restoring, at least I will deal with three in this message, you may be able to think of other kinds.
1. He Will Restore Stubborn Sheep With A Rod!
Know any stubborn sheep? No! Looked in the mirror lately?
Now stubborn sheep are those who want to go their own way, they are, to use another animal metaphor, mulish in their attitude. “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way” Isaiah 53v6 which applies, not only to the unsaved but equally to the saved.
Today, God knowing the stubbornness of the sheep of His pasture has given under shepherds to lead and guide the flock to restoration. Sometimes we say, well, I don’t like the under shepherd, I won’t listen to him; I will not learn from him, I am not going to look to him. There are Scriptural rules and principles we are to keep in obedience to the Lord but we say we will not obey them, no one will tell me what to do! Two things can happen just here, the under shepherd can visit with the stubborn sheep and encourage them to fall in line and obey the principles and avoid an unpleasant situation in the church. If they refuse the under shepherd may have to commit the matter to the good shepherd himself. And the good shepherd may well have to use the rod of chastening to effect restoration.
Now, what is the shepherd’s rod? Well, the shepherd would find a sapling tree, dig it up by the root, with a sharp knife cut away the roots and smooth the knob. He would then knock into that knot sharp pieces of metal or bone until it became heavy and hard, until in fact it became a club or weapon in his hand.
The shepherd could be out in the fields tending his sheep for weeks at any one time, he would practice throwing that rod until it became a deadly missile in his hand. That club or rod was used to protect him against thieves or robbers, it was also used to protect the sheep against lions or wolves or indeed any other predator. Sometimes, if there were stubborn sheep that would continue to wander and do their own thing, the shepherd would take that rod and break the leg of the sheep. He would make a splint and bandage the broken leg of the sheep. He would tenderly care for that sheep, carrying it on his shoulders as they moved to new pasture, feed it and water it until the leg was perfectly healed then the sheep would be restored to the fold.
From that time onwards a strange thing would occur. That sheep that had been broken and healed, now restored, would continually move out of the flock and walk closely to the shepherd’s side. Wherever that shepherd would go, that sheep would be sure to follow, indeed that sheep would often become the leader of the flock and be responsible for keeping the whole flock near to the shepherd.
“Come and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up” reminds Hosea 6v1.
Dear people, have you been broken recently through some circumstances? Some situations crushed you into the ground? Happenings in your life have left you reeling and confused? Have you been left wondering if there is anyone in the church that really cares? Oh, dear friend, the same God who allowed all of this to happen in your life is able and willing and would bind you up, restoring you to the family and fold of God, if you will allow him that complete sway in your life. David, the Psalmist said in Psalm 119v67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word” and again in Psalm 119v71 “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.”
Do you recall Jacob had a wonderful experience with God yet still managed to wander off into his own sweet way. Eventually God brought him to a lonely place and what an amazing wrestling match took place that night. What happened on that momentous occasion? God hit Jacob with his club and crippled him for life, the Lord broke him and then restored him and the rest of Jacob’s life he bore the mark of God’s dealings with him, he walked with a limp and had to carry a staff to help him get about. Let me tell you that was the best thing ever happened to Jacob. Hebrews 11 tells us at the end of his life Jacob was still walking with God. “By faith Jacob worshiped, leaning on his staff.”
Now why did the Bible have little detail placed in there? Simply because it’s the desire of the shepherd that we walk through life leaning upon Him, and if we will not do it willingly He may well have to break us, bind us, then, restore us before that leaning happens. The good shepherd uses the rod, not because he does not love the sheep, rather the opposite is true, He uses the rod because of His deep love for the sheep. The unknown penman in Hebrews 12v5-12 reminds us there are three things we can do when chastened: (a) we can resent the chastening: v5 despise not the chastening. (b) We can faint under the chastening: v5 nor faint when thou art rebuked. (c) We can be exercised by the chastening: v11 it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it. There is a reason for chastening; in fact there are three reasons!
(A) Chastening Reveals You Are A Son: Heb. 12v6.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
You may well feel like saying, well, I run with the world, I do my own thing, I go my own sweet way, yes! But the text says chastening comes only to those who are sons.
(B) Chastening Renews Your Worship: Heb. 12v9.
“Furthermore, we have fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
Correction should renew our reverence for God and draw from us even more worship. Have you ever noticed how grownups love to talk about how their parents would give them a good licking? “My folks used to lay it on me, no half measures there, they left me in no doubt who was boss, if I did not co-operate they would operate. We just swell up with some sort of pride about that because we believe they had a standard and they loved us enough to want to teach us that same standard. I pity children who live in homes where parents do not love them enough to chastise them. Listen: the devil is daily putting up some fight to rob you of your children, is it not time you started to train up your child in the right way?
(C) Chastening Restores Your Fellowship: Heb.12v10.
“For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; (understanding) but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”
Do you know beloved, God did not save you to make you happy, God saved you to make you holy. The Lord Jesus revealed to the immoral woman at sychar’s well, when presenting her with the gospel truth; the Father requires worshippers. Why? Because that’s the whole purpose of salvation, that we become worshippers and that we worship in spirit in spirit and in truth.
We should underscore that text in Heb. 12v10 “That we might be made partakers of his holiness.” The question is what are we going to do when chastening is applied? Resent it, faint under it, or be exercised by it?
The signs of the times are everywhere today, dear Christian people are saying, well I don’t care if it’s a Biblical principle, or a rule of the church, I am my own person and I will do my own thing, nobody, but nobody will tell me what to do! The end result of that dear folks is bad feeling and bitter spirit. And nobody in pulpit or pew needs a revival of heart more that a bitter-spirited fundamentalist with his dispensations right and his disposition wrong, the shepherd may well have to come in and restore the stubborn sheep with the rod, but it need not be that way. Why not try it God’s way?
2. He Will Restore The Straying Sheep With The Staff!
That is, those who grow careless, fall into pits of all kinds get entangled in the briar patch and thorn bed of this world, those who move away from the fold and the shepherd and are totally unaware they are straying.
On this occasion the shepherd will look for a long sapling and cut it off above the root this time. He would take that long willowy sapling, soak it in water until pliable then bend the top into a crook like shape, allow drying and finally making it like a polished staff. The crook would be big enough to go around the chest of the lambs and the neck of the sheep. With that staff he would guide the sheep, reach into any dangerous place and rescue them. When they get stuck he would be there to release them; with that staff he will gather, guide and guard his own, all of which goes to show the weakness of the sheep and the need for us to draw on the shepherd’s strength.
The Lord doesn't promise to give us something to take so we can handle our weary moments. He promises us himself. That is all. And that is enough. Charles R. Swindoll.
Sometimes the sheep wander and forget their responsibilities to the lamb, sometimes the lamb wanders and forgets her dependency on the sheep and it takes the shepherd every time to bring both together under his watchful eye and caring heart so that both will draw from his strength and wisdom.
Oh, how we need the shepherd today to draw husbands and wives together with a bond of love for the Lord and each other that cannot easily be broken, to draw families together with love and respect for each other, to draw church members together in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace, for it’s there God commands the blessing. Stay close to the shepherd; it’s the place of safety, sustenance, and security.
It is the continual assertion of individuality that hinders our spiritual development more than anything else; individuality must go in order that personality may emerge and be brought into fellowship with God.
Oswald Chambers in Biblical Ethics. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 17.
3. He Will Restore the Sick Sheep With the Oil!
Each evening as darkness would begin to fall the shepherd would call his sheep into the sheepfold one by one. I understand in Bible times the shepherd would stand at the opening of the sheepfold and count the sheep in and call them by name. When inside the sheepfold he would lovingly walk through the flock and run his hands through the wool and across the flesh of the sheep looking for bruises, thorns, scabs, raw places and sore spots. Where such would be found he would apply the oil to bring ease and healing allowing the sheep to lie down comforted and cared for and their wounds attended to. That oil was mixed with sulphur and tar, which would deal with insects and parasites that could easily get into the open wounds and cause added discomfort.
Praise God for the oil of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures applied to the believer when we come home all bruised and bleeding with gaping hurts. What healing and balm as the good shepherd dresses our wounds opened so cruelly by another, what joy to be able to say, “he restoreth my soul.”
By the way dear brother or sister, don’t be angry, harsh or even bitter with those who have caused those gaping wounds, pray for them and remember that God has allowed their bitter anger and harshness to be a rod and staff that you so desperately needed to effect restoration in your own spiritual life. The good shepherd needed to restore you from your stubborn, straying and sickly way in order that you may once again enjoy His blessed presence with you daily.
Remember, David had been stubborn, broken and then restored.
David had strayed; he had been retrieved and then restored.
David had been sick, healed and then restored.
How we should praise God for the ministry He brings, that ministry of the chastening rod, the correcting staff and the comforting oil.
He is my reason for living, he restoreth my soul!
Dear people, this is our real program for eternity!
Faith in Christ: Fellowship with Christ:
Faithfulness to Christ: Fruitfulness for Christ: