Life Verse PDF Print E-mail
Written by John J. Vencill   
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 18:26

I bring my favorite Bible verse to you for consideration. Actually, it is not even an entire verse.

"He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake", Psalm 23:3(b)

Let's consider this verse from two aspects: the grammatical and the historical.

Grammatically, this is a declarative sentence with two adverbial clauses. The simple declarative core sentence consists of the subject, verb and object, "He leadeth me." The object is a pronoun, "me", referring to David, the author of the Psalm who, as a shepherd boy, slew Goliath with a stone from his sling, was later the mighty slayer of ten thousands, annointed by none other than Samuel to be the second King of Israel, was known as a man after God's own heart, and was the object of the Davidic covenant in which the LORD promised that David's seed will rule forever.

The pronoun He, in the context of Psalm 23, refers to the LORD, portrayed in this Psalm as a shepherd -- one who leads His flock from place to place so that it always has green pastures and still waters. Verses four and five portray the LORD as protector and provider, other traits of a good shepherd. The Hebrew word for LORD in this Psalm is the tetragram YHWH, representing Yahweh or Jehovah, the sacred name of God that the Israelites did not dare to say, thereby clearly putting the LORD in the position of leader and David as the humble follower.

The sentence now says, "The LORD leadeth David." Many of us, in our professional careers, have received leadership training. Though leadership styles fall anywhere in the spectrum from authoritative or even dictatorial to participative, depending upon the leader and followers and upon the situation at hand, the leader is always in charge and followers are obliged to support and obey the leader, assisting him in achieving his goals. In the Psalm, the LORD is in command. He is the sovereign creator and ruler of all that there is (John 1:3). David is the obedient follower in contrast to Enoch, for example, who walked with God.

The first adverbial clause tells where the LORD leads David -- "in paths of righteousness." The people of the Old Testament measured righteousness according to the Law and righteous people were those who followed the Law, in spite of the fact that, as Paul writes, no man could obey the Law and, as it says in Hebrews, even Old Testament salvation was by God's grace through faith. The path of righteousness is the narrow road to life that Jesus describes in Matthew 7:13-14 and contrasted with the broad road to death and destruction. It also reminds me symbolically of the golden chain to glorification of Romans 8:29-30 in which we are justified, sanctified and glorified. Knowing that the LORD is leading him in paths of righteousness allows David to put his full trust and faith in God without fear. A thousand years later, Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

In the second adverbial clause, we find out why the LORD leadeth David -- "for His name's sake." David does not benefit from this special attention by none other than the Sovereign LORD of Creation because David is likable or a good person or because his deeds merited the favor of the LORD. The LORD leads David solely to increase the Glory and Honor of His Holy Name. Paul explains in Ephesians 1:9, "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure...."

So, a wordier statement of Psalm 23:3(b) might read, "The Sovereign and Mighty LORD leadeth HIs servant, David, in the narrow path to glorification not because of any merit found in David, but because God desires to increase the Glory and Honor of His Holy Name." Like the Gettysburg Address, the short form says it all.

Moving to the historical aspects in our exegesis, consider when David, who lived about 1,000 BC, now some 3,000 years age, authored this timeless statement. David, second of the Israelite Kings, lived just after the age of the Judges, before the kingdom of Judah separated from the Northern Kingdom. Samuel himself anointed David as King over Israel.

  • A modern statement of God's sovereignty and our devotion to Him begins The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Chapter One is titled "It all starts with God" and its first sentence proclaims "It's not about you."
  • The Reformers of the 14th and 15th centuries proclaimed, "Soli Deo Gloria!" -- to God alone be he glory. J. S. Bach appended the initials "SDG", Soli Deo Gloria, the each of his Cantata scores, signifying Bach's desire to serve God through music.
  • We have already alluded to some of Paul's repeated declarations of God's sovereignty and man's relationship to Him. There are many more that we have not touched upon.
  • Jesus described the narrow and wide roads and, even as a part of the Godhead, Jesus himself obeyed the Father's commands (John 15:10).

Psalm 23:3(b) stands as a great statement of God's Sovereignty and Grace from very early times. That is the reason I commend it to you. That is the reason I can put my faith and trust in the Sovereign LORD without fear. That is the reason I am glad to be one of Jesus' flock (John 10:7-18).

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 11:39