Paths of righteousness
We have read the passage, said the passage, heard it time and again, but there is one phrase which I never really noticed, well one word. It’s from the 23rd Psalm and the portion that says, “He guides me in paths of righteousness.”
“Paths” plural is what I haven’t noticed all these years. Actually, a more literal translation would be, “Right Paths.”
We were driving through the Judean Wilderness, looking out the bus windows as the scenery passed by. Our guide told us to look out the window and tell him what we saw. Brown rolling hills.
“What, else? Do you see the lines?”
Actually, I had been seeing what he was now bringing to our attention. The hills were all marked with faint horizontal lines from bottom to top.
I had wondered what they were, whether geological or weather related and then he explained what they were.
“They are what is known as Right Paths.”
They were the trails which the sheep followed as they grazed along the hills. The flocks would move horizontally along the hillsides following the shepherds. It was these same types of trails which David was referring to when he wrote the Shepherds Psalm.
Each trail is wide enough for one sheep, and they would walk along the trail and could graze above and below the trail. There wasn’t enough grass for more than one sheep so they would be spread out, each one walking along their own, Right Path.
Now, there is only one shepherd, Jesus Christ and he alone should be followed, and yet there are many sheep and the paths which we will be led on will be varied. Not all of our journeys with God will be identical. It’s become a mystery to me, but God calls us all to a unique and varied selection of experiences, both good and bad. There doesn’t seem any logic at times in his selection and quite often it doesn’t seem fair in comparison. Yet, it is what it is.
David’s comfort as he wrote those words for us came from the trust he had placed in his Shepherd and His guidance.
“He guides me, in right paths.”
And then in these words, “for his name’s sake.”
The right path is the one in which the shepherd leads us that will bring glory to His name. It’s not just trusting his guidance, but submission to his will and intent, that where he leads will not only be best for us, but ultimately, it will bring honor and good attention to God’s character and nature.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good,” right? “of those who love him and called according to HIS purpose.”
As the sheep, our job is simply to follow the shepherd along the path he has chosen for us, whatever it may contain, joy and sorrow, good or bad. As long as we are close behind him, our paths will be made right.