“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)
This psalm is so familiar that we might find it hard to single out one verse to consider. Many Christians learn this psalm at an early age and recite it often. It is a psalm of great comfort and is read at many funerals and in times of great sickness or trial. Its introductory phrase is so powerful but often not fully comprehended. “I shall not want,” is an unbelievable statement and most people don’t believe it. Even if they recite the psalm, they do not live as if they believe its words. To make sure we don’t want, we bypass God’s promise and spend our days getting more and more.
The third verse is also not really considered by many of us. It tells what God does and why. The why is very important though we mostly concentrate on the what. The what, which comes in two parts is great, but the why is even greater.
Some of the impact of the first thing God does is often lost because we don’t see ourselves as needing soul restoration. The fact is, we do need to have our souls restored. Day by day God offers His Holy Spirit as a means of restoring our inner man. The flesh is so weak that we cannot manage our lives alone. God is there to help us. When we are adopted into God’s family, we receive the indwelling of the Spirit, who is there to help us in the renewal process.
God’s guidance is always toward righteousness. The entire process of redemption is to bring the people of God into a saving relationship which entails their walking in paths of righteousness. Since the people of God have no inherent righteousness, all righteousness must be imposed on them from God. We are not righteous, nor can we achieve the state of righteousness. There is no one righteous, the Biblical writer states, not even one. As our shepherd, the Lord leads the way. We don’t know which path to take, and so He leads us onto the correct path. That path is always one of righteousness.
But the real story here is why God does all of these things. God told Israel that His protection and guidance wasn’t because of anything special about them. They had not done anything to earn His favor. Neither have we today. God’s gifts of grace, which is what this psalm is discussing really, are because He wants to. It is for His glory. It is for His honor. It is for His praise. We do not deserve this shepherd but because the Good-Shepherd is who He is, He does these things.
Task for Today: Turn loose your self-guidance. Quit trying to remake yourself. Let God restore you and let God lead you. Give Him the credit. Laud Him with praise and honor. Let your voice and heart sing praises to give Him all the glory that is due Him.