“He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3, NRSV).
Imagine the “paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3) stretching out before you, way out into the distance. You cannot see the end, but you know that at the end of the journey is home, God’s house. As you focus a little closer to you, do you see where the paths lead? You can see some places clearly, but other parts are totally obstructed by large or dangerous obstacles. Sometimes the path disappears over a ridge.
Some parts of the path are easy to walk along; others are difficult. It was just like this as Israel traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land, and it is described the same way in this psalm.
Identify from the locations that David sees the sheep passing through when following the paths of righteousness as they make their way to the house of the Lord.
But why are these paths called “paths of righteousness” or “right paths” (NIV, NRSV)? Here are four important reasons. First, they are the right paths because they lead to the right destination — the Shepherd’s home. Second, they are the right paths because they keep us in harmony with the right person — the Shepherd Himself. Third, they are the right paths because they train us to be the right people — like the Shepherd. Fourth, they are the right paths because they give us the right witness — as we become the right people, we give glory to the Lord. They are “right” or “righteous” paths, whether the going is easy or hard.
It is important to realize that when God leads us, it is not simply a question of His delivering a parcel to the destination. It is much more than guidance and protection. Like the many examples all through the Bible in which God is leading His people (whether it is leading Abraham by His promises or leading Israel by the pillar of fire and cloud), when God is guiding, it is always about His training His people in righteousness.
|How conscious are you that righteousness is the Shepherd’s priority for your life? How can trials change your life so that you better reflect the character of Christ?|