Feb 12, 2013

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MEDITATON: He leads us along trusted ways

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).

As a child I use to know Psalm 23 by heart. However, there was one particular verse which always puzzled me and which I struggled to understand.

It was verse 3 which reads: “He leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” For me this verse sounded very abstract, if not fairly rigid.

It was only much later that one of my professors, an authority on ancient texts, specifically Hebrew, clarified the real meaning of the text for me. It happened during a sermon he held on this passage. Since then this specific text has become one of the most consoling and inspiring truths in my faith life, a real guiding light on my spiritual journey.

In his sermon the professor explained that the text had a very concrete and practical meaning. To be led in the paths of righteousness simply means that we are being led on well tried and trusted paths. Paths which have already been explored and scouted.

At the time this truth really consoled me. Because as humans we often find ourselves on roads where we feel totally lost and desperate – lonely roads where nothing makes sense any more and no one really seems to worry or care. Roads which are constantly being plagued and battered by setbacks, disappointments and disaster so that there seems to be no way out.

Often we also unknowingly or even deliberately embark on roads that are unknown and dangerous – roads where we lose our way and our wits. We give in to old temptations, lose control, become dejected, give up hope and even miss the courage or energy to look for solutions.

How good then to know – especially as we enter the new year – that we are being led on trusted roads. That we serve and worship a God that is familiar with our loneliness, our setbacks and disappointments, the many wrong choices that we make and are still making, the awkward paths that we embark on.

Reflecting on his life, this is the one thing that keeps the psalmist going – the firm knowledge that he is being led on trusted roads. That even when everything seems hopeless, even when the road takes him through a valley of darkness where there is no visibility, no hope, God will not forsake him. Because God is the good Shepherd who is always with us (v 4), the One who knows the road Himself and will eventually see us through, comfort us, forgive us and lead us beside still waters (2).

Surely you may believe this. God knows your path. He will restore your soul again (v 2). In fact His own name and honour is at stake here.

Carel Anthonissen

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