Psalm 23 is my favourite psalm. This morning, I read it again during my quiet time and noticed something I had never taken note of before: ‘He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’ (Psalm 23:3) Isn’t it odd how a phrase (the one in my italics) that one has read countless times before can suddenly stand out from the rest of the passage?
Psalm 23 is, to me, one of the most comforting passages in the Bible. The writer is adamant in the face of adversity that the Lord will never fail him. This is a truth that modern day believers can take heart from. A Christian’s journey is often strewn with obstacles to discipline us so that we may grow spiritually. We are not promised a rose garden, but we are promised help when life is hard – even unto death.
However, the line that spoke to me today was that the Lord ‘leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake’. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, and pray ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10), we are in effect asking the Lord to be jealous for His name and to proclaim and establish Himself on earth as in heaven. Psalm 23:3 tells us that the Lord leads us in paths of righteousness ‘for His name’s sake’. Why? So that our thoughts, words and actions might proclaim His name and glory – a re-affirmation found in Matthew 6:10.
Even during the psalmist’s era, the Lord was jealous for His reputation, therefore He led the writer in the right ways of thinking, speaking, and doing for His own name’s sake. The same doctrine holds true today as it did then: as followers committed to the Lord, we who are His earthly instruments give ourselves over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that He might lead us in ways that honour His name: thus is His Lordship proclaimed through our thoughts, words and deeds. Of course, it falls to us to be spiritually in tune with the Lord so that we are able to hear His voice and be directed by Him. Remember: God will enable us to draw close to Him if we ask in faith; enabling us, together with the Lord Jesus, to pray with all sincerity, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’. (Matthew 6:10)