In Psalm 23:3 David states of the Lord – “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” There are some principles that we must understand for Him to lead us down the right path of life.
We must be willing to be led.
What a wonderful link between two personal pronouns in Psalm 23. There is a great chasm between “He” and “me” but it is bridged by one sweet word, “leads.” Jesus leads me. It’s personal.
There are two types of guides: One gives direction and tells you where to go. The other accompanies you. Jesus accompanies you. He is with you. If a guide is with you and you make a wrong turn, he will lead you down another path to your destination. Jesus doesn’t just point the way, He leads the way – He is the Way! The only way to find His will for your life is follow Him.
We are called not just to believe, but to follow where He leads. It seems pretty easy but it isn’t. We have a choice and we are prone to wander. Like sheep, we don’t want to be led. We say we do and sing like we do, but we want to go our own way. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Is. 53:6). Jesus said we must deny ourselves in order to follow Him (Mark 8:34). We have an enemy that tempts us to walk on wrong paths. We need to keep following Jesus.
One of the beautiful aspects of Psalm 23 is that it doesn’t focus on what I need to do but what God does. Nowhere does it say to follow Him. But He leads me. That is His promise. He will always be there to lead me. But I must be willing to be led to go on the right path.
Jesus gets you moving in the right direction.
Jesus leads us on the ‘right’ path. A traveler asked a child about a shortcut. The child responded, “There is a shortcut that is long and there is a long way that is short.” In other words, the shortcut will actually take you longer to travel than the longer route. I’ve taken that kind of shortcut. The right paths are often not the easiest, nor the most convenient, and have fewer travelers. See Matthew 7:14. But they are the right paths.
If you grew up in church and had to follow all the rules and regulations of righteous living, you know it can be exhausting and confusing. Don’t do this and don’t do that. As you grew older, maybe you rebelled against these rules. They were too rigid with no freedom. Yet, the path you chose led you through some horrible experiences. Please don’t judge God’s paths while in progress. Wait till the journey is complete and you will find that God’s paths are right.
One of the problems in church is we tend to major on staying off the wrong paths. But God stresses staying on the right paths. What are some of these right paths? Meditate on Scripture, love your neighbor, attend worship, care for the poor, avoid drunkenness, live generously. Right paths are paths that make us look like Jesus.
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
You can make a BIG difference in the world.
When you are on the right path, you can make an eternal difference for Jesus’ sake.
Why does a shepherd care for his sheep? Obviously, he loves his sheep. But a shepherd cares for the sheep for his own benefit. Jesus does the same. He leads us “for his name’s sake.” It’s not about you, it’s all about Him. See Colossians 1:16.
We would criticize a man who did something to enhance his reputation. Why does God seem to do this? Not for bragging rights or to look good. Jesus wants us to serve Him for His name’s sake because He loves us and knows when He is exalted we are blessed. When the king is on the throne, all in the kingdom is well.
When we are led down righteous paths, God is honored, and that makes an eternal difference in the world around us.
So what can we do?
- Evaluate the path you are on. Is it a right path? Is it leading you to God?
- Search God’s Word for direction. The Bible is a great compass to get your life heading in the right direction.
- Begin each day requesting God’s guidance. Ask to recognize the right paths, the good things God wants you to do.
Let the Lord lead you on the right path. Barnabas Shaw was a British missionary to South Africa. When he arrived in Cape Town in 1815, he intended to preach the Gospel and start a church. The city officials were against it and stopped his plans. Not knowing what to do, he bought a yoke of oxen and cart, and let the oxen lead the way into the interior. On the 27th day of his trip he camped for the night near a party of natives. They were traveling to Cape Town, hoping to find a missionary to teach them the “Great Word” from the “Great God.” Had either group started a half a day earlier or later, they wouldn’t have met. Had either traveled down a different road, they wouldn’t missed one another. God ordained the encounter, and in His providence led Barnabas Shaw to his appointed field.