The Heart of God Toward You
Here is the most encouraging thing about Psalm 23: It is a declaration of how God longs to relate to you; how deeply He wants to care for you. It reveals His heart toward you.
He deeply desires to cause you to “lie down in green pastures” – He wants to be the One who leads you to nourishment, and feeds every need in your life, and quenches every thirst, and He wants to be your source of real contentment.
He deeply desires to lead you “beside still waters” – to be your security. To be the reason that you are not afraid of what is all around you, and not afraid of the unknown before you.
He deeply wants to be the One who “restores your soul” — to be the One who rescues you when you are in trouble. The word “restores” implies reclaiming. The Shepherd rescues, it is His nature to do so.
At the center of His heart for you is His desire to guide you like a Shepherd leads His sheep. When this Psalm declares that God guides you in the paths of righteousness, it means two very encouraging things.
Paths That Are Right For You
The most literal way to read this phrase is “He guides me in the right paths.” This means He guides you down paths that are right for you.
The ancient shepherds in Judea lived with their sheep. They were with their sheep all the time. They traveled a seasonal migratory path throughout the year that kept their sheep nourished and protected. All over the land there were rutted paths or trails. They went everywhere. The good shepherd knew the trails. He knew which were safe and which were deadly. He knew which ones led to abundance and which were dead-ends.
In your life this is very pragmatic – this is about your actual journey in life. It’s about the individual practical paths you choose among all the crisscrossing paths in front of you.
The future is blurry for everyone. Nobody knows for sure the right path into the future. But if you follow closely behind the Shepherd, He will lead you along right paths, the paths that are right for you:
• You may be surprised where they turn.
• You may not be happy in every path at every moment.
• But ultimately you will see that it was a right path for you.
• It was the path that accomplished everything He wanted to do in you.
Paths That Make You Right With Him
Here is 99% of God’s guidance. Ninety-nine percent of the questions you have about where God is guiding you is answered in this little phrase — He is seeking to guide you in paths of righteousness, paths that make you right with Him.
God’s primary activity in guiding through the details of your life is to lead you to people, places and things that make you right with Him. This is the starting point for all God’s leadership in your life.
So, where is God leading you right now? I can tell you with 100% certainty! He’s leading you to love Him more. To live for Him as the center of your life. And to reflect His heart to everyone around you.
• So, what job is He leading you to? The one that is there! And that leads you best to love Him most.
• Who is He leading you to marry? The one who is willing to say “yes,” and who will cause you to love Him best!
• Is He leading you to move or to stay put? Here’s the answer – wherever the path of righteousness is found – the place that leads you to loving Him best.
Draining Fear From Uncertainty
Uncertainty is the source of most of our fear and unhappiness. Here is the antidote for it — “He guides me in the paths of righteousness.”
Follow the Shepherd, and that act of following will begin to drain away all fear. Because He is willing to lead you in the paths that are right for you; and He is willing to lead you in the paths that make you right with Him.