“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” (Ps. 23:3)
Previously in Psalm 23, we saw that God provides for our needs and gives us rest. But far more important than provision and rest is the promise of guidance in righteousness. Without this guidance, we will naturally follow the path of sin and wickedness—the path ending in destruction. There is no righteousness in us, so we need Christ’s righteousness. As God ascribes righteousness to the life of a fallen sinner, He receives glory for a task impossible by human standards.
The promises in verse 4 emphasize that every path through this sin-blighted world will include dark valleys. The troubles and suffering of these times are real. But the promise of our Shepherd’s presence is real, as well. He uses His rod and staff to guide us through these dark places and to remind us of His presence, so that we have no need to fear.
The final promise in verse 5 assures us of abundant provision, even in the face of opposition. Do enemies trouble you on the path? God rebukes them by giving you a feast in their presence. He pours out His anointing on you and fills your cup to overflow with blessings.
With such a Shepherd we can walk the path with confidence. In this life, He will surround us with His divine goodness and loving mercies. And after this life, He has prepared us an eternal home in His presence.
Final Thought: The Lord is my Shepherd, and He guides me.
CJ Harris is the managing editor for Positive Action, where he helps plan, develop, and launch Bible curricula for churches and schools. Having served as a youth pastor and Sunday School teacher, he has a passion for teaching young people about the glories of their God. A bit of a history buff, CJ received his Ph.D. in Church History in 2011, based on a study of Reformation-era missions philosophy. He and his wife—also a student and teacher of history—have two sons.
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