“He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3
A lot has been said and written about the leading of God, but sadly perhaps, there is no other subject that has been more confused than how, and more importantly, why God leads us as individuals. How many times has somebody started off asking, praying, for something from God, all the time saying that they have faith that God will answer their prayer. But when they don’t get whatever it is that they were asking for, they turn and say silently in their soul, if not out loud, “I knew it! You don’t care about ME.”
That is what I love so much about the end of Psalm 23:3. Here in this one part of one verse, the Psalmist steers clear of this confusion when talking about the goal of God’s guidance.
On one hand there is no doubt that the Psalmist believes that God is personally interested in him because every note of this song is personal. He says it – “The LORD is my shepherd. . .” “He leads me. . .” (italics mine.) But then on the other hand the Psalmist is very well aware of the fact that the Lord’s leading is not just for him. It’s not only for the interest of the individual. He explains. – “He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I would have expected him to say. I would have expected for him to say something like, “He’s leading me in green pastures because I’ve lived a good life.” But no, he says, “He’s leading me in green pastures not because I’ve been so good, but so that I can share His goodness with those who have not been so good.”
I believe that this a very important biblical principle. I don’t believe that a man is led either into prosperity or adversity simply for the sake of that prosperity or that adversity; but rather for the sake of God’s name or His holiness. You pray for His blessings and He blesses you. Why? So you will be blessed? No, not just that, but so that you might in turn be a blessing to other people.
Think about Abraham. Why was Abraham given the promise of the land of Canaan? Was it just so that he would have a rich, fertile land; a land flowing with milk and honey to enjoy? Or was it just as a reward for listening to God and obediently leaving Ur of the Chaldees? No. The Lord blessed him so that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. God did not give him a new country as a reward for him leaving the old; He lead him to leave the old because He wanted to give him the new.
Where is God leading you? What is God saying to you? God will never simply lead you for your sake, but for His name sake. He will not simply give to you, but so that you might in return give to others.
“Lord, lead me to green pastures for your name’s sake. Your Word says that you are a God of love, so lead me to green pastures for the sake of your love. Don’t let me lay down in green pastures just for my rest’s sake, but so that through my rest I might be able to help somebody else. Don’t bless me for me, but bless me so that I may in return may be a blessing to somebody else. If you give me green pastures, then let me feed my flock there; if you lead me beside still waters, let me in return refresh others from them. When I was younger I used to want Heaven only for what Heaven would be for me, but now I desire to share it with the world. The streets of gold. The pearly gates. The crystal sea. I desire to be lead to Heaven itself, “for your name’s sake.”