1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3
In my 36years of ministry if you ask me what passage of the bible is most referred to in the Old Testament it will be Psalm 23. The equivalent in New Testament is John 3:16. Our children are quick to recite it, Sunday School Teachers clap when the students know it by heart, ministers rejoice when doing expose on it. It is a major tool in the hand of prayer warriors. Virtually all denominations recite verse six and many have used it to replace “The Grace “ “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”!
What the Holy Spirit taught me this morning is that most times the whole essence of Psalm 23 is lost in the Christendom- the phrase – He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake!
The Psalmist was using the analogy of the sheep and the Shepherd to teach us how to maximize our relationship as the Church (the Sheep) and the Lord Jesus Christ (The Shepherd), invariably saying if the sheep wants to enjoy peace(serenity of the waterside) if the sheep does not want to lack, if the sheep wants to successfully pass through the darkest path of life( valley of death), if the sheep wants to survive in the midst of the wickedness of this world,(have a table before him in the presence of enemies) he has to follow His leading, His instructions, His path to righteousness, and holiness, otherwise, all those goodies are illusions.
In other words the phrase- “he leads me in the path of righteousness “, is David’s way of expressing how to access life. Jesus echoes the same sentiments with an equivalent scripture in the NT. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt 6:33. Jesus is not only representing the righteousness of God he is the Righteousness of God!
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves led out to pasture” Malachi 4:2.
What is the Holy Spirit teaching us this morning: follow the path of righteousness!
It sounds foolish for a prospective buyer to go to an African market or Flea Market and ask for extras or bonus or “jara”(as my people would say) without first buying any item from a vendor. This is where language limits me as a man with Yoruba as my first language! All I am trying to say is that you cannot go and buy “garri” (cassava flour) in the market and without buying first you are asking the seller to give you “jara” “eni” -bonus . It may sound funny but that is what we do spiritually. We abandon the leading of Christ but we are praying for his bonuses!
How can we be led in the path of righteousness?
Yesterday evening I took a stroll to the nearest park, thank God for the beautiful weather, it is springtime in Toronto. As I was praying around the park I saw three grandmothers, a young mother and two little children under five years riding their bicycles, they were of Asian background. I know the Holy Spirit wants me to share the gospel – so I asked Him for utterance he gave me one. I went to the mother and said “your children are very smart” and like a typical mother she smiled “I know” she replied to me. I said but they could be smarter if you lead them to Jesus Christ. “I never thought of that,” she said. About 30 minutes later when I was waving to them that I am leaving- the young mother said “ I promise you I will follow your advice “ . You cannot imagine my inner joy!
How does he lead us in the path of righteousness? Through the inner prompting, the clear instructions in the bible, the Ten Commandments, the laws, the statutes, his words and his precepts. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirt. Note what he is saying when you are praying, reading the Bible, listen to the sermon, watching that Christian movie, when you are driving, in the shower. Tune to His frequency. Through the inner warning, don’t marry that man/woman, go to that church, take that job, apply for that visa, be patient, don’t quit, write that book, go on that missionary trip, go and join that chariot, quit fornication, adultery, smoking, drug, don’t give that bribe, don’t take it etc.
In summary, follow the instructions of the Great Shepherd. The sheep that will be not be lost must listen to the voice of the hunter and obey him.
Conclusion: Psalm 23 is full of action words. It describes a journey, not a standstill. The action word for you today is to let Him lead you in the path of righteousness! My prayer for you today is that as a sheep you will follow the Shepherd and enjoy all the goodies in Christ! Shalom!
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