Psalm 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for His Name’s sake”
If you have been part of Kristen Tschida Ministries even for a short time, you have probably heard me talk about how much I love to run and bike. Greg and I were in Madison, WI this month and we brought our bikes so we could bike some great Wisconsin trails. Madison is a bike-friendly place with bike paths everywhere. My brother-in-law, Paul, showed Greg a map of the trail we wanted to bike, so we wouldn’t veer off on other paths when we approached them. Needless to say, we had to pull off the path and check the map several times and reroute because we had missed a turn. We were both so thankful for the trail map Paul gave us so we could stay on the right path to get us to our destination.
In this life, we want to stay on the right paths. How do we know which paths are right? How do we know the way to go? Just as Greg and I needed a map to keep us on the right bike paths, we need a guide to lead us along the right paths in life.
David shows us, in this verse, the key to being on the right paths. “He guides me….” The key is the Shepherd. The Shepherd is leading. The imagery of Psalm 23 is intimate. God is not distant. He is near and He is personal. He cares for you. He is present with you. He is leading you. John 10 tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep know His voice and follow Him. As you yield your life more and more to Jesus, He will lead you on the right paths. Stay near to Him and you will remain on the paths of righteousness.
Greg and I trusted the map Paul gave us when we were biking because Paul has biked that same path many times. He knew the way. He knew what other paths may look similar, so he gave us things to watch out for. We could trust him. If Paul had never biked that path, we wouldn’t have trusted his guidance on which trail to take. In life, who do you know better than Jesus to lead you on the right path? Who knows the way to lead you more than Jesus? He has full knowledge of all things. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is intimately acquainted with your ways.
This verse in Psalm 23 reflects Jesus’ message at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7. Jesus sets before the people two ways, one which is the way of blessing and one which is the way of destruction. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Matthew 7:13-14. Many take the wide road. It is easy. The narrow way is not the easy way. This is the road less traveled. How do we find this path to life? We discover the narrow road by being led by the Good Shepherd.
Left to ourselves, we are unprotected and unable to find the path that leads to life. We are always dependent on the Shepherd. He is the one who knows how to lead us and the one who knows where to lead us. The more we know Him, the more we trust His leadership over our lives.
What are the paths of righteousness that the Shepherd will guide us along? The Hebrew word to describe the right paths is “Tseudq” meaning the opposite of crooked; straight, true and right. In understanding this word correctly, we need to see truth from God’s perspective not man’s perspective, which redefines truth and where truth ebbs & flows with the times.
God is truth. What is truth? Truth is reliable, never-changing, inescapable and absolute. The Word of God is the only reliable source of truth. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Jesus came into the stream of humanity and lived as one of us. He is the Word made flesh. Jesus told His disciples in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life”.
Truth is not a “what”, it’s a “who”. Jesus’ life expresses what living truth looks like. Truth is eternal. It does not subject itself to an opinion poll or a popularity contest. Truth is still truth whether you agree with it or not. Truth doesn’t change based on emotions. Truth doesn’t argue because it has the final word. Truth is unmoved by time. Truth is not tied to a perspective. Truth is constant. Truth renews and transforms us from the inside out.
The paths the Good Shepherd guides us along are right and true according to God’s Kingdom values. Only God can lead us on the right path, full of freedom and full of joy! He knows where we will thrive. Psalm 16:6 speak of the “God paths”. “Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places. I’m overwhelmed by the privileges that come with following you, for you have given me the best!” TPT. This is the abundant life David is inviting us to in Psalm 23, but it only comes when we yield the leadership of our lives to God. The more we yield our lives, the more dependent we become on the Father and this dependency fuels our intimacy with the Father.
And when we yield and follow Him, “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day,” Proverbs 4:18 tells us. Our inner lives are transformed from the inside out and others will notice it, because we shine the light of Jesus into the atmosphere. Our lives point to the goodness of God! We bring hopeful assurance to people of God’s love and desire to be involved in their lives.
Notice the end of verse 3 in Psalm 23, “...for His Name’s sake.” What are the implications of this? We don’t use this kind of language in our day, but in David’s day it was common. It meant something like how we would speak of someone’s reputation. Because of who God is, His nature and character, He can be completely trusted. David assures us that the Shepherd is one who we can depend upon to lead us because of His Name, who He is and what He does. He is faithful. He is loving. He is compassionate. He is merciful. He wants our best. He is good to us.
David lived in response to God’s love in his life bringing honor and glory to God’s name. He trusted the Good Shepherd to lead him along the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Make this your confession: He guides me along the right paths for His Name’s sake. Trust the Shepherd to lead and guide you on the "God paths" so that your path will be like the morning sun, shining ever brighter. Pray, "Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths," Psalm 25:4.