For our communion meditation today I want to look at Psalm 23:3, which says, "He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." There are three brief points that I want to highlight.
We need restoration (v. 3a)
The first point is that we need restoration. You cannot come worthily to the Lord's Table if you do not recognize your need. In verse 5 God spreads a table before him precisely because David recognized his need.
A sheep is blind or in absolute denial if he cannot honestly say, "He restores my soul." In our life of David series we saw a number of times where David needed to have his soul restored. He fell into sin. He lost the joy of His salvation. He needed guidance. He was fearful. He had doubts. So be encouraged, if that is true of you.
In this covenant Psalm there is no assumption that once you are born into God's family that you will no longer sin. Quite the opposite. There is a constant need to renew the covenant because there is a constant need for His forgiveness and restoration.
The sad part is that many Christians don't want to be restored and don't want to be led in the paths of righteousness that verse 3 talks about. It may be pride that keeps us from doing what we know to be right. It may be bitterness. It may be that we are simply determined to fulfill our lusts — to taste the grass on the other side of the fence. But God does not allow that to go on indefinitely. When a sheep endangers itself by constant wandering, by rebellion against the shepherd, or even by being helplessly cast on its back, the shepherd sometimes has to take some stern action to bring the sheep in line. God's reputation hangs on it. His name hangs on the fact that we will grow strong, healthy and holy.
So we come to the Lord's Table every week because there is not a week that goes by where we do not need to say, "He restores my soul." And as you come to the Lord's Table this morning, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to any areas where your soul needs restoring. And one sign that you need restoration is that you have lost the joy of your salvation. It's a signal light on the dashboard of your life that says, "Something is wrong."
There is only one true path for restoration (v. 3b)
The second thing that we see here is that there is only one true path for restoration. How does God restore my soul when it has wandered? Verse 3 says, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness." And He defines His righteousness in the Word of Scripture.
If you are a sheep that has sought other paths of restoration, commit yourself in this communion meal to turn around and to follow His law; to walk in His paths of righteousness. Too many pastors try to restore joy, peace, and wholeness to their sheep by following the wisdom of man. They try various branches of psychology, and with over 600 variations on psychological philosophy and method, when one form of psychology doesn't work too well, there is a lifetime of trying other methods. But they are all dead ends. The man and woman of faith says, "No. I will not trust the wisdom of man. God knows what He is talking about, and I will follow Him; I will walk in His law; I will believe in the sufficiency of Scripture."
And by the way, psychology is not the only counterfeit path of restoration. Rather than looking to God to fill the void inside and to restore spiritual joy, they will look to illegal drugs, legal drugs, alternative medicine, yoga, eastern meditation, positive thinking, hypnosis, or any recommendation by an expert. Or they will do their own self-help activities to restore the joy of their salvation. They will all fail you. There is only one true path for restoration, and it is God's paths of righteousness found in Scripture alone.
There is only one legitimate motivation for restoration (v. 3c)
And lastly, there is only one legitimate motivation for restoration, and verse 3 words it, "for His name's sake." If the only reason we want to get restored is to ease our pain, it is a humanistic reason. If the only reason we come to counseling is to save our marriage, it is a humanistic reason. In fact, if the solution God gives is more painful than the marriage itself, you simply won't do it. That is not a sufficient motivation. When we renew covenant in the Lord's Table we are declaring that we want to do all things for His glory. We want His name to be lifted up in our lives. And even when we don't succeed, the Holy Spirit continues to implant that desire to be God-centered in all of our life. He restores my soul to that God-centered goal. He leads me in His paths of righteousness, because that is the only path that honors His name. And if you are honest, some of you have not been entirely there this past week. And that in itself is reason to come to the Lord's Table for restoration.
Come, not because you are strong, but because you are weak and need His strength. Come, not because you have succeeded in this past week, but because you are a wandering sheep who needs restoration to the paths of righteousness. Come, not because you are worthy in yourself, but because whether you eat or drink or whatever your do, you want to do it for the glory of God. That means that you want even your worthiness to point to the glory of God because only He can make you worthy in the righteousness of Jesus.
God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies, and in that table we are covenanting to be sheep who are willing to be restored and sheep who are willing to follow Him into righteousness. Do not be a hypocrite; do not lie against the truth when you partake of communion. Come to be restored. Amen. Let's pray.