Psalm 23:3
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.
God Leading His PeopleO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:3
God's GuidanceR. W. Dale, LL. D.Psalm 23:3
Guidance in the Right PathJames Stuart.Psalm 23:3
Happy RestorationW. P. Lockhart.Psalm 23:3
My RestorerPsalm 23:3
Paths of RighteousnessPsalm 23:3
Restoring the SoulT. Kidd.Psalm 23:3
RevivalT. B. Patterson, M. A.Psalm 23:3
Right PathsJohn Stoughton, D. D.Psalm 23:3
Right PathsJames Stuart.Psalm 23:3
Righteous WaysO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:3
Soul RestorationA. L. Banks, D. D.Psalm 23:3
The Divine LeadingsRobert Bogg, D. D.Psalm 23:3
The Divine Name a PleaSir R. Baker.Psalm 23:3
The Great RestorerJ. H. Evans, M. A.Psalm 23:3
The Paths of RighteousnessJ. R. Macduff, D. D.Psalm 23:3
The Restoration of the SoulJames Stuart.Psalm 23:3
The Shepherd of the Lost SheepW. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.Psalm 23:3
The Soul RestorerO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:3
God's Providential CareC. Short Psalm 23:1-4
A Deep Consciousness of GodAlexander Field.Psalm 23:1-6
A Psalm of Personal Trust in GodA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
A Trustful ConfidenceJ. Jennings.Psalm 23:1-6
Choice Properties of SheepO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Confidence in the ShepherdAnon.Psalm 23:1-6
David's Confidence in the Prospect of the FutureC. Bradley, M. A.Psalm 23:1-6
Exegesis of the PsalmT. H. Rich, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
JehovahO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Jesus as My ShepherdPsalm 23:1-6
Personal Relationship with GodJames Stuart.Psalm 23:1-6
Religious Conceptions Coloured by Secular VocationCharles H. Parkhurst, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Serenity of SoulPhillips Brooks, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Sufficiency in GodG. S. Reaney.Psalm 23:1-6
The Chiefest Shepherd to be YoursO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Divine ShepherdT. De Wilt Talmage.Psalm 23:1-6
The Divine Supply of Human WantO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The God of the World as Seen by the GoodHomilistPsalm 23:1-6
The Good ShepherdW. Forsyth Psalm 23:1-6
The Good Shepherd and His FlockC. Clemance Psalm 23:1-6
The Life of FaithJ. O. Keen, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord a ShepherdJohn Hill.Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord Our ShepherdE. H. Hopkins.Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord Our ShepherdT. Campbell Finlayson.Psalm 23:1-6
The Pasture GateMarvin R. Vincent, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Power of ReflectionW. Forsyth Psalm 23:1-6
The Properties of a Good ShepherdO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Psalm of FaithTalbot W. Chambers, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd Figure for JesusF. B. Meyer, B. A.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd GodL. A. Banks, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd King of IsraelA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd King of MenGeorge Bainton.Psalm 23:1-6
The Song of the FlockJ. R. Macduff, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
What the Lord is to the BelieverArthur T. Pierson D. D.Psalm 23:1-6

This is one of the sweetest of all the psalms. That it was written by him who was raised from having care of a flock to be the king on Israel's throne, there is no reason for doubting, spite of all that destructive critics may say. No amount of Hebrew scholarship can possibly let any one into the deep meaning of this psalm. No attainments in English literature will ever initiate any student into the mysteries of a mother's love, and no attainments in Oriental learning will help any one to learn the secret of the Lord which is here disclosed. There is nothing to equal it in the sacred books of the East; for none but the Hebrews have ever had such a disclosure of God as that in which the writer of this psalm rejoices. Every clause in this psalm is suggestive enough to be the basis of a separate discourse; but in accordance with our plan in this section of the 'Pulpit Commentary,' we deal with it as a unity, indicating the wealth of material for perpetual use therein contained. We have presented to us - Four aspects of the Shepherd-care of God.

I. GOD'S SHEPHERD-CARE DISCLOSED IN REVELATION. For the Scripture doctrine of God's relation to his people as their Shepherd, the student may with advantage study and compare the following: Psalm 74:1; Psalm 77:20; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 95:7; Psalm 100:3; Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 31:10; Jeremiah 23:1-3; Ezekiel 34; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 11:16; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:4-6; John 10:1-16, 26-29; John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4. These passages summarize Bible teaching on this theme for us. We may set it forth under the following heads:

1. God is related to men as their Shepherd. A purely absolute Being out of relation does not exist. To whatever God has made he stands in the relation of Maker. And when he has made man in his own image, after his likeness, he stands to such a one in a relation corresponding thereto; and of the many names he bears to express that relation, few more tenderly illustrate his watchful care than this word "shepherd."

2. This relation is manifested in Jesus Christ. (John 10:1-16.) He claims to be emphatically "the good Shepherd." The apostle speaks of him as "the Shepherd and Bishop of... souls."

3. As the Shepherd, Jesus came to seek and save the lost. His mission on earth was emphatically for this. He regards men as his wealth, in which he rejoices; and if they ace not under his loving care he misses them - he is conscious of something lacking (Luke 15:4-6).

4. He has risen and ascendent up on high as the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20).

5. He now appoints under-shepherds to care for the flock. (Acts 20:28.)

6. As the chief Shepherd, he will again appear. Then he will gather in and gather home all the flock (1 Peter 5:4).

7. Only as he gathers men to himself as their Shepherd, do they find safety and rest. (1 Peter 2:25.) Till then they are homeless wanderers, perpetually in danger of stumbling "over the dark mountains."

8. When men return to him they find all they need in his Shepherd-care. (Psalm 23.)

9. This Shepherd-care is for each as well as for all. Each one may say, "He loved me, and gave himself up for me;" "The Lord is my Shepherd." Let us not forget to note the Shepherd's individualizing care.

II. GOD'S SHEPHERD-CARE EXERCISED IN ACT. The points of detail are set forth in this psalm with exquisite tenderness and beauty,

1. Repose. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." In such a restless age as this, there is no thought which a believer has greater need to appropriate than this (see Mark 6:31). As physically we must find time for sleep, however severe the pressure of work, so spiritually we must find time for repose. And God's gracious arrangements are planned with a view to this. "He maketh me," etc. The good Shepherd says, "I will give you rest." When he gets back the wandering sheep he lays it on his own shoulders (Greek, see Luke 15:5). The Master never expects his servants to be always on the stretch. He tells them to "rest awhile;" and if they are heedless of this kind monition, he will himself call them out of the rush into the hush of life. It would be well if some Christians thought more of rest in Christ; their work would be richer in quality even if less in quantity.

2. Refreshment. "Still waters;" literally, "waters of rest," or refreshment. The believer has no craving thirst: he can ever drink of the living stream, and therewith be refreshed (see John 4:10; Revelation 7:17). Dropping the figure, the truth here conveyed is that there shall be a constant supply of the grace of Christ, and of the Spirit of Christ (cf. John 7:37-39).

3. Restoration. (Ver. 3.) This may either mean renewing the strength when worn down, or bringing back after wandering. We need not omit either thought, though the latter seems principally intended.

4. Leadership. (Ver. 3.) "Paths of righteousness," i.e. straight paths. This follows on the restoration. Having recalled him from "by-paths," the good Shepherd will lead him in the right way. The sheep can wander wide easily enough, but if they are to be kept in the right way that can be only through the Shepherd's care. God guides by

(1) his Word;

(2) his providence;

(3) his Spirit.

Sometimes, indeed, the way may be dark, even as death itself; still it is the right way (Psalm 107:7; Ezra 8:21-23).

5. A living presence. "Thou art with me' (ver. 4). This means, "Thou art continually with me," not merely with me in the darkness, but with me always. The sunshine of the living presence of a Guide, Help, Friend, Saviour, is always on the believer's path; and if the mingling of unbelief with faith did not dim the eyesight, he would always rejoice in it.

6. Discipline. (Ver. 4.) The rod and staff are special emblems of the Shepherd's care in tending and ruling the flock. The Shepherd chides us when we rove, and uses sometimes sharp measures ere he recalls us. And this comforts us! Even so. The disciplinary dealings of our God are among our greatest mercies.

7. Ample provision. (Ver. 5.) The riches of God's love and life are the provisions on which we feed, and on which souls can grow and thrive; and these supplies are ministered to the soul through the invisible channels of God's grace, even while enemies prowl around. Yea, we are entertained as guests st the Father's board. The anointing oil is the token of the right royal welcome which the Host delights to give! So rich, so abundant, are the mercies and joys which are vouchsafed, that our "cup runneth over"!


1. Here is appropriation. "My Shepherd" (see John 10:11, 27, 28).

2. Here is satisfaction. "I shall not want."

3. Here is loyalty. The psalmist not only consents to but delights in this Divine care, and has no wish but to follow where the Shepherd leads.

4. Here is joy. This thought is (perhaps Intently, but really) in the expression, "Thou art with me." The presence of God is life's exceeding joy.

5. Here is fearlessness. "I will fear no evil." Not even the darkest shade can make him fear, for God is with him there.

6. Here is recognition of the infinite grace of the Shepherd. (Ver. 3.) "For his Name's sake." Not for our sakes, but for his own; having undertaken to be the Shepherd, he will for his own glory's sake do all that a shepherd's care demands.

IV. THE SHEPHERD-CARE OF GOD IS CELEBRATED IN SONG. The song has a threefold significance.

1. It is a song of gratitude. "Goodness and mercy" mark every feature of the Divine treatment, and they will, to life's end.

2. It is a song of hope. The psalmist looks forward, without a moment's fear of the Shepherd ever leaving him (ver. 6).

3. It is a song and vow of consecration. "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." To what extent David thought of a future state when he wrote these words, we cannot say. Yet his meaning is to some extent clear. The house of God was the place where God made his home and manifested himself to his people (see Psalm 132:13-16). And the writer says, "Where God makes his home, there shall be mine. He and I will never part company" (see Psalm 61:4; Psalm 48:14; Psalm 73:24-26). It was not the house of God, but the God of the house, that was to be David's home - and the home of all the saints - for ever and for ever! There is a picture by Sir Noel Paten, which is a marvellous illustration of this psalm. It is entitled, 'The Valley of the Shadow of Death.' It is worthy of prolonged study. In the foreground is a dismal and dark valley, through which a blasting wind has swept, laying low alike the warrior and the king; the helmet of the one and the crown of the other lie useless on the ground. In the centre of the picture is the Lord Jesus, with a halo of glory over his head, a crown of thorns around his brow, and in one hand a shepherd's staff. On the left is a young maiden, whose face bears traces of the terror she has felt in coming through the valley, and yet of radiant hope as she now sees the good Shepherd there. She grasps his hand; he holds hers; his feet stand on a gravestone, beneath which lie the remains of the fallen; but where the Shepherd sets his feet, the tombstone is luminous with the words, "Death is swallowed up in victory!" The very sight of that glorious picture weaned one from the vanities of the world, and drew her to Jesus; and in the case of "an old disciple" it completely abolished the fear of death! May we all, by faith, catch a glimpse of our Shepherd, and every fear will vanish quite away! - C.

He restoreth my soul.
1. It implies the quickening and invigoration of the soul in seasons of depression and exhaustion. A sheep may languish from internal weakness and disorder, and may need the application of medicinal restorations. So the soul may suffer from its inherent liabilities to weakness and weariness, and mistrust of God, and from its inability to rest calmly and in good faith upon the precious promises of His Word. At such times, He who has hitherto sustained us will act as a wise and good physician, and restore us to health and vigour.

2. The distemper of which we complain is in truth a form of sin, and has its source in a declining faith, and in a relaxed hold on God. The main feature of the restoration implies the wandering of the sheep from the pasture and the fold. Thank God there has been revealed to us a love which is not measured by our merits, and which our needs cannot exhaust; a love which bears with us tenderly and patiently in the midst of all unfaithfulness; a love stronger than death — many waters cannot quench it. In our wildest and most distant wanderings the eye of God wistfully follows our course, nor will He suffer our disloyalty and ingratitude to baffle His purpose of mercy, or sunder the ties that bind us to Him.

(James Stuart.)

Restoration, like conversion, is the work of God. Who can convert a sinner? God only. Who can restore a backslider? The Almighty alone.

I. THE MEANS GOD EMPLOYS TO BRING THE BACKSLIDER TO REPENTANCE. Anyone who has tried to deal with a backslider knows how difficult it is.

1. He uses memory (Matthew 26:75); of warnings; of promises.

2. He reveals Himself as unchangeable.

3. Makes known His faithfulness.

4. His tenderness (John 6:37).


1. It is a way of humility.

2. Of prayer.

3. Of distinct renunciation of evil.

4. The return must be whole-hearted and unreserved.I would say, however, do not try to work yourself into a certain state of feeling, or, as an old writer has said, "Do not go on spinning repentance, as it were, out of your own bowels, bringing it with you to Christ, instead of coming to Him by faith to receive it from Him." Of the exact nature of your feelings you never can be a proper judge. But this I would urge, look your sin steadily in the face; judge it as in the presence of God; consider it in the light of His warnings and promises, His exhibition of Himself, and His former dealings with you. Ask that you may see it as He sees it, and in all self-loathing and self-renunciation cast yourself afresh at the feet of Jesus.

III. THE JOYOUS EXPERIENCE OF THE RESTORED. Pardon is enjoyed, Life realised. Peace. Zeal and rest in work. And all heightened by contrast.

(W. P. Lockhart.)

The soul is the chief part of man; it is the offspring of God. All that relates to it must therefore be full of interest.

I. A PAINFUL FACT IMPLIED. The soul may wander. All have done so, but even the converted may wander, foolishly, perilously, without power to return, — and all this through sin.

II. A PLEASING TRUTH EXPRESSED. "He restoreth," etc. We cannot do this of ourselves. The Lord restoreth — to real safety, to prosperity and enjoyment. He does this by various means — by affliction, by mercies heaped upon us; by His Word; through the ministry of the Gospel, and chiefly by the power of the Holy Spirit. In all this He displays wisdom, power, compassion.

III. THE OBLIGATIONS WHICH RESULT. Penitence, gratitude, watchfulness, dependence. You who are strangers to this restoring grace, take heed, think, pray, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

(T. Kidd.)


1. Conscientious apprehensions of sinful guilt.

2. Insolent operation of sinful principles.

3. Incessant assaults of temptation.

4. Ample and more permanent desertions.

5. Near and strong afflictions.


1. By His Word. This was that which quickened David in his afflictions, and kept him from fainting (Psalm 19:7).

2. By His Spirit. Who is therefore styled the Comforter, because He doth restore joy and cheerfulness.

3. By faith. This is the great restorer of life to any oppressed Christian.


1. Necessity on their part. Sense of sin is a heavy thing.

2. Goodness of compassion on God's part.

3. Fidelity and truth in God.

4. His affections are much towards oppressed, and distressed, and languishing souls.Consider a few particulars,

1. Soul oppressions are very painful. The soul is the seat of sweetest comfort or deepest sadness. A little thing in the eye will trouble, and a small thing on the brain is weighty, and any burden on the soul is very heavy.

2. Soul sinkings are very prejudicial.

3. The Lord only hath power over the soul, and the burdens of it. We can mar, and we can trouble our own souls and cast them down, but it is no power and art but that of a God which can raise up, revive, and settle the soul again. The air may be good to refresh some bodies, and merry company to hearten a melancholic body; for sinking bodies, physic, diet, recreation, etc., may be good restoratives; but for souls that are sinking, or sunk, no helps can restore them but such as are like themselves. Spiritual souls, spiritual maladies, are to be raised up with spiritual restoratives only.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

"He restoreth my soul. That is just what the sinner needs. It is idle to talk about Christian culture, or Christian growth in any way, until the soul is restored again from sin. Before you can expect your plant to grow you must. plant it out; before you can expect the sheep to be led in green pastures, and by still waters, and protected from enemies, it must be brought back from its wandering. He wants to bring you back to your lost goodness; your lost innocence; your lost relation to God, when you could pray to Him as naturally as you could talk to your mother; your lost peace of heart; your lost tenderness of conscience; your lost love for good things; your lost sense of safety; your lost hope of heaven and eternal life.

(A. L. Banks, D. D.)

I. GOD WILL PRESERVE THE GRACE THAT IS IN HIS PEOPLE. The new nature in the believer is the workmanship of God; he hath a new nature. There is in that new nature that which is like God's nature, that which is some reflection of God. There is not a single grace of the believer but what shows forth some of the attributes there are in God. In order to keep His people God puts them into the hands of His Son. Jesus said, "Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." What an infinite suitableness and propriety there is in Jesus to restore. Look at His name — Jesus. It supposes a restorer. As God He is omnipotent; as man He has infinite sympathy.

II. THE SORT OF RESTORATION. Many a man has shed tears for sin who has never come to a knowledge of its true evil. There is a sorrow which does not work death, a godly sorrow. It is oftentimes difficult to tread the maze in the labyrinth of our hearts about repentance. I think of those who have no one with them when they fall; they are alone. It is an ,awful thing to be alone with God. The subject, however, has a sweet aspect to God's tried and tempted children. If through depravity and strong inward corruptions we are led into sin, let our motto be, "Quick restorings": no delay; no spirit of self-dependence; seek restoration in true repentance.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The Psalmist describes the revival which in the periods of spiritual languor and decline he derived from the care of the Lord his Shepherd.

I. THE CARE WHICH THE GREAT SHEPHERD TAKES TO RECLAIM HIS PEOPLE. From the erroneous and sinful courses into which they do but too often allow themselves to be betrayed. Even the renewed man is not in this world so thoroughly established in holiness as to be beyond the possibility of sinning, beyond the reach of temptation, beyond the assaults of spiritual danger. But even when astray, He will in His wisdom and love seek them out and bring them back to Himself.

II. THE RECOVERY OF THE SOUL FROM LANGUOR AND DESPAIR. Often David had felt his soul when it was, as it were, overwhelmed with anguish and despondency, refreshed and revived by the assurances of the Good Shepherd's love, by the experience of the Good Shepherd's soothing care. David's experience is that, mere or less, of every Christian soul.

III. THE DESIGN OF THIS COMFORT. It is that the Shepherd may lead the soul "in the paths of righteousness." in the word of God the Psalmist recognises the only absolute and infallible rule, whether of belief or duty. And it is as copious and complete as it is accurate and sure.

(T. B. Patterson, M. A.)

This sweetest of the Psalms sings of many mercies which the believer receives, and traces them all to one source — the Good Shepherd Himself. Text reminds us —

I. OF OUR TRUE POSITION. It is that of a sheep abiding close to its shepherd. Now this should be ours because of —

1. Our obligations to Christ.

2. Our relationships to Him.

3. If we would have happiness.

4. Our daily necessities.

5. Our infinite perils.

6. The benefits of fellowship.

II. OF OUR FREQUENT SIN. "He restoreth my soul" — He often does it; He is doing it now. With many suspended communion is chronic. This most wrong. And where it is not so bad as this, there are sad seasons of declension. They are brought about by worldly, conformity, forgetfulness of duty. Jesus is a jealous lover.

III. OF OUR LORD'S FAITHFUL LOVE. He will never give up His sheep. For His name's sake. He will use all manner of means.

IV. OF HIS SUPREME POWER. It is HE who does this. It was He who begun the work of grace in you, and therefore He will restore. No outward temptation has force when Christ is present. His presence is the death of every sin, the life of every grace. I see the green leaves of a plant most dear to all who love the woods in spring. It is seen nestling under a hedge under a shelving bank, just above a trickling stream. I ask it why it does not bloom, and it whispers to me that it will bloom by and by. "But, sweet primrose, why not put forth thy lovely flower at once, and gladden us with thy beauty?" She answers, "I am waiting for him — for my lord, the sun; when he cometh and putteth forth his strength I shall put on my beauty." "But wilt thou not need soft pearly drops of dew to glisten on thy leaves, and the violet and the harebell to keep thee company, and the birds to sing to thee?" To which she replies, "He will bring them, he will bring them all." "But art thou not afraid of the frost and the dreary snowstorms?" "He will chase them all away; I shall be safe enough when he comes. Now, we are the plant and Jesus is our sun. And He restores us entirely, and now. Come to Christ direct, not round by Sinai.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

If He has appealed to my love as the Good Shepherd of the green pastures, even more does He claim my adoration, my reverence, my heart, as the Shepherd of the lost and straying sheep.

I. THERE IS NO DISGUISING THE FACT, HIDE IT AS WE WILL, OF OUR FREQUENT FALLING AWAY. Be it the weakness of our human nature, ever prone to evil; be it the corrupted atmosphere in which we live, the swampy marsh of the world, from which rises up, in stealthy, deadly fumes, the vapour of bad public opinion, which we call the world, where the mosses are brightest, and the flowers the fairest, and the sunbeams dance the merriest; be it Satan, above all, with his terrible power of trickery and deceit; — whatever it may be, try as hard as we may, we have to reckon with a constant deflection from a high ideal. And all along the course of our life, His efforts to restore us, to help us to persevere, are spread out. Think only of the many new beginnings which He offers to us. The oft-recurring strength of our Communion, the storehouse of Sundays, the manifold means of grace which surround oar path, are well known to us. But think, also, of such things as the disposition of day and night, the necessity of sleep, and the like: these are all merciful new beginnings which offer us occasions for fresh efforts after amendment. It is so with the Church's seasons, with the great round of fast and festival, each with a fresh aspect of Divine grace, each with a fresh hope of a better life.

II. And being restored, once more THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS LAY OPEN BEFORE US — the paths which come from righteousness, which end in righteousness, and are righteousness. Certainly we ought to strive for a more harmonious life of goodness. Our lives are too often sharply divided up, as you might divide a concert, into sacred and secular. Most certainly we should all strive to live by rule. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of rule. Rule makes us like Jesus Christ, to whom every action apparently had its hour, and whose whole life was a fulfilment of minute prophecy. Rule, once more, helps us to utilise life. It is the scaffolding from which all the materials which daily life brings us can be placed upon the wall. The paths of righteousness, the very highest paths, are open to us; our very sins may be stepping stones to higher things, and produce, if not humility, at least watchfulness. Christ will bring out character, if only we do not hinder Him, until it becomes established in righteousness.

III. AND THIS WILL HE DO "FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE." "The revealed name, which gathers up and expresses for man just so much as he can apprehend of the Divine nature." His name is Jesus. As great conquerors are named after their victories, so He is named from His. "He shall save"; "able to save"; "mighty to save." Through Jesus is the way to escape. This, perhaps, is Satan's chief terror which he holds over us — the impossibility of escape. His name is Emmanuel, "God with us": with us, in every stage of our life; with us, when we broke away; with us, when we came back; with us, as we are gaining strength. His name is the Christ, the Prophet who warns me, the Priest who atones for me, the King who rules me. So He restoreth my soul; so He leads me in the paths of righteousness; so He pledges to me the assurance of His holy name.

(W. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.)

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
There is a well-known similitude which represents human nature as a chariot driven by two horses, one of them high-spirited and aspiring, the other, heavy, tame, and grovelling; and the charioteer unable to exercise over either of them absolute control, yields first to the one and then to the other, so that the chariot is not carried along a straight, continuous path, with uniform progress towards its goal, but frequently, turns aside and stands still. The image is in itself so striking, and so true to experience, that it needs no explanation. There is in all men a higher and lower nature, which are utterly at variance, one drawing us toward good, the other drawing us toward evil; one having its source in the spirit, the other in the flesh. And hence there is within us a more or less perpetual conflict; and even when we have been awakened to the realities of the spiritual world, and have felt the attractions of the Divine life, our difficulties have not ceased. In addition to accurate knowledge of the right, we need a motive power which will ensure obedience to its claims, transform our intellectual perception into spiritual deeds, and harmonise all the powers of the soul in the presence of the highest light. And such an efficient of morality is suggested to us by the words of the text, "He leadeth me." Referring to the custom of the Eastern shepherds — going before their sheep. So God guides us. We enter the paths of righteousness, not because we are driven into them, not because we are subjected to some irresistible force, but by the attraction of our Lord's loving presence, and the persuasive power of His holy will. The Bible, valuable as it is, is not the only means of God's guidance. In some conditions of mind the wisest words of themselves cannot suffice us. Apart from the living will of which they are an expression, they are poor and inefficient, and our hearts can be reached only as we see the Father. But the great principles of religion are presented to us not as dry and formal statements, as mere axioms and rules, but are clothed with flesh and blood, and embodied in a perfect life, He leadeth in the paths of righteousness, and thus gives us the encouragement of His own perfect example. Christ trod before us every step of the way which He wishes us to tread. It is wonderful to see how there is in Christ a manifestation of every virtue we have to acquire. "He leadeth," and therefore He draws us after Him by gentle and gradual guidance, in which He graciously accommodates Himself to the measure of our strength. Then the motive power of our life must be found in our love to the Great Shepherd of our souls. He goes before us that He may win our affections and draw us after Him. The value of the Divine guidance is enhanced by the ground on which it is seen to rest, the reason for which it is given — "For His name's sake." The name of God is symbolic of His nature. Probably the Psalmist's main idea is that God will lead us in the paths of righteousness, not because He is urged by considerations external to Himself, but as prompted by, and in order to honour the wisdom, the love, and the power which constitute His nature. If the name which David has especially in view be that of the Good Shepherd, God will do for, men all that that term implies — He will not deny Himself.

(James Stuart.)

How much would be gained, and how much would be lost, if we came to the conclusion that this Psalm was not written by David? A great deal would certainly be lost. For David is a man whose character and experience have an enduring moral and religious interest; everything that throws light on his sorrows and joys, his faith, his fears, his sins, and his repentance, is of great value; and his Psalm contains a very striking illustration of the depth and strength of his personal trust in God. It helps to make one part of David's life real and vivid to us. Something perhaps would be gained. If it was written by some obscure saint this might seem to draw the Psalm nearer to some of us, and to give us a stronger claim to all its disclosures concerning the blessedness of a life in God's keeping. David was an exceptional man; what applies to him may not apply to us. Whoever was the author, the Psalm was written more than two thousand years ago, and but for our familiarity with it, its very antiquity would interest and move us, as we are interested and moved by an ornament that belonged to a Greek who lived under the Ptolemies, or to an Egyptian who worshipped in the temple of Carnac, in the time of its glory. But the Psalm has another and pathetic interest. This Psalm has been in daily use for more than two thousand years. It has become the expression of the experience, not of a solitary saint, but of a countless multitude of saints. The Psalmist says that he belongs to a flock of which the Living and Eternal God is the Shepherd. All that a good Eastern shepherd is to his flock when he is guiding them from pasture to pasture and stream to stream, God will be to us. It is very easy to lose our way in life, and very hard to find it again. Without any evil intention, we form habits of living which are sometimes injurious to a noble morality, and are still more often fatal to an earnest loyalty to God. When a man learns that he has gone wrong, he should appeal at once to the pity of the Good Shepherd, who goes after the lost sheep till He finds it. It is easy to lose our way when we are not looking to Him to guide us; it is impossible without His guidance to find it again. The better thing is not to lose it. The really devout man has submitted himself to the authority of God, has committed himself to the love of God, and may rely confidently on the guidance of God. It was not the truth alone that the Psalmist relied upon to guide him, but God Himself, the loving God. Religion is a right relation, not between man and truth, not between man and law, but between living person and living person — between man and God. The Psalmist had consented to follow God's guidance, and he was relying on God to guide him in "the paths of righteousness." Those words, however, do not precisely convey the Psalmist's meaning. He says that God will guide His flocks in the "right paths," the "direct paths," to their water and their pasture. And only righteous paths can bring us to where God desires us to come. The Psalmist means that if a man is under God's guidance he" will be protected from making a wrong decision in critical moments; he will not take the wrong path. God's guidance keeps a man from sin; but it also keeps him from wasting his strength and failing to make the most of all his powers and opportunities. In all projects for doing service to mankind, a devout man may trust God to guide him in right paths. We may miss our way in the service we endeavour to render to others, as well as in the ordering of our personal life, because we lean too much on our own understanding, instead of trusting in the Lord with all our heart, acknowledging Him in all our ways, and looking to Him to guide us in right paths.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

I. SOME OF THE MEANS BY WHICH GOD LEADS US. That is, by which He prompts us to, guides and encourages us in, a good and righteous conduct.

1. God hath implanted many principles in our nature which prompt and incline us to a righteous conduct. These may be more powerful and more obvious in some than in others; but in some degree they exist in all: nor can they be referred but to an intelligent cause. All that is good in us comes from God. If there are found in the soul of man certain feelings and propensities, certain desires and affections, which incline him to a good and righteous conduct, let us give glory to God, and in all these acknowledge His hand leading us in His righteous paths. Feelings of sympathy and commiseration are general and powerful principles in the heart of man. There are not many who can witness severe distress unmoved. The principle of conscience is a powerful principle operating to the same end. It will rarely fail to point to the righteous path; it will plead with us to adopt it; it will remonstrate against deserting it; it will applaud us when forming the resolution to persevere in it. The desire of honest fame which men so generally feel; the dread of the disgrace which they know follows the discovery of an unworthy deed; the pleasure felt upon hearing of a generous act; the indignation, the honest indignation, which arises when we are told of flagrant injustice or merciless oppression, — are further instances of strong internal feelings all favourable to a righteous life. But God can work by any means and suit His dealings to any character.

2. By events which take place in the course of His providence, God urges us to a good and righteous conduct. To a person of a serious and well-constituted mind, the most familiar objects, and the most common events will convey instruction. If there are those who are insensible to the ordinary benignity of the ordinary operations of Providence, there are few who will not be impressed by more affecting events which at times occur.

3. From the Divine communications which God hath been pleased to make to us, we learn yet other means which He employs to guide, to animate, to support us in the paths of righteousness.

II. ACKNOWLEDGE OUR OBLIGATIONS TO GOD, FOR EMPLOYING SO POWERFUL MEANS FOR SO GRACIOUS AN END. The paths of righteousness are the only paths of peace. In the paths of righteousness one may find difficulties, and may be called to some painful efforts, but they lead to certain and everlasting bliss. Can we be blind to the great criminality of our conduct if we resist these means which God employs to urge us to a good and righteous life? Let us wisely improve what God hath done for us. When He is employing these varied means to "lead us in the paths of righteousness, it is that He may conduct you to the mansions of bliss, and that you may dwell in His house for evermore.

(Robert Bogg, D. D.)

I. THAT EVEN CONVERTED PERSONS NEED A GOD TO LEAD THEM. O Lord, saith the Prophet (Jeremiah 10:23), I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. And therefore David prays, (Psalm 143:10) Teach me to do Thy will. What the leading of God is which is here meant.

1. There is a double leading. One is general in a way of common providence. Another is special and proper to the state and acts, and ways of grace and salvation, whereto a more singular aid and influence is necessary.

2. This efficacious guidance or leading consists of these particulars.(1) Of a clearer illumination. They have eyes given them to see their Leader, and ears given them to know their Leader and His voice: This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21). Show me Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths (Psalm 25:4).(2) Of a peculiar inclination of the will or heart to obey and follow the direction of God, which some do call exciting grace.(3) Of a special cooperation, wherein Divine assistance concurs with the will renewed and excited, enabling it both to will and to do those things which are pleasing unto God, for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do.(4) Lastly, of a singular confirmation, which some call sustaining grace.

II. THIS FOR THE NATURE OF THIS GUIDANCE, NOW FOR THE MANNER OF IT. It is delightful as well as gentle. It is a safe leading. It is a faithful leading. Such a leading as will not mislead us. Such a leading as will not fail us.


1. In respect of the imbecility that is in their graces. Grace (considered in this life) though it be a sweet plant, yet it is but a plant very tender; and though it be a pleasing child, yet but a child very weak.

2. In respect of the difficulties which are in the way. Though righteous paths be heavenly and holy, yet many times are they made stormy and uneasy.

3. In respect of that erroneous aptness in us, even the best of us; error is manifold, and truth simple; many ways to miss the mark, one only to hit it.

4. Christians must make progress in grace, as well as find an entrance of grace.

5. Lastly, in respect of that backwardness that is in our spirits: The flesh is weak, saith Christ. The journey to heaven is up the hill, we fail against wind and tide. The first use shall be to inform us of the great love of God towards His people, whom He is pleased not to leave, but to guide and lead, to make and keep, to raise up and lead. It may likewise inform us, that we have no cause to glory in our own strength.


(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

In the paths of righteousness
I. THE PATHS. The Lord can lead us in no other paths than such as He walks in Himself. The paths of creation are all right paths. There is nothing crooked, perverse, or capricious in the laws of nature. The paths of Providence in which God walks before us are paths of righteousness. People never question it when He goes before them in the glow of sunshine, dropping rich bounties every step He takes. But when the Lord walks before us covered with clouds, and a rod in His hand, how common then to talk of "mystery." In whatever way the Lord is going before you now, the way is not only a right one because it is expedient for your good, and will yield you benefit at last; but it is absolutely, constantly, and without exception, a righteous one. The paths of duty, too, in which God would have us walk before Him are paths of righteousness. They are perfectly straight. The paths of Christian faith, and obedience, and self-denial, and purity, and truth, and honesty, and love, are all straight. They run parallel with the laws of the whole outer universe. They run parallel with the laws of our own being. They run parallel with the interests of the eternal future. Sin runs across those interests.

II. THE GUIDANCE. It is Divine. He, the covenant-keeping God, leadeth me. His character is a pledge that He will lead me right. It is individual. "He leadeth me." He leadeth and we are led. How many thoughts this suggests.

1. How manifold are the methods of His leading!

2. How mysterious is the innermost secret of His leading!

(John Stoughton, D. D.)

There is a world of comfort contained in the simple words, "He leadeth me." There is a Divine hand and purpose in all that befalls us. He leads in righteousness. He has an infinite reason for all He does. It is not for us to attempt to unravel the tangled thread of Providence. What a grandeur and dignity, what a safety and security it would give to life, if we sought ever to regard it as a leading of the Shepherd, — God shaping our purposes and destinies, that wherever we go, or wherever our friends go, He is with us. Let us learn the lesson of our entire dependence on our Shepherd Leader, and our need of His grace in prosecuting the path of our spiritual life. Be it ours to follow after that holiness, that righteousness, without which no man can see the Lord.

(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)

It is noted as a further mark of our Shepherd's care that He leads us in the paths of a good and right way. What these paths are, a study of the context will enable us with little difficulty to decide. They are spoken of in conjunction with the restoration of the soul, and refer to the guidance which completes and crowns it. Our revived life is directed in a worthy course, and we are prevented from further wanderings and transgressions. God directs us into right paths, as opposed to such as are crooked, uneven, and deceptive — paths which lead directly to the goal which, as reasonable, responsible men, we ought to reach, and which, indeed, we must reach for the completion of our life's work and the satisfaction of our nature. The standard to which we are bound to conform is righteousness. We must live in rectitude and integrity of character. There is one course open to us. We must act up to the light that is in us, be conscientiously faithful to our conceptions of right, and submit with all loyalty of heart to the decisions of our judgment and conscience.

(James Stuart.)

I. WHAT THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ARE. A path is nothing else but an open and beaten way or tract to walk in. There are two sorts of paths wherein men may be said to walk. Some are called erroneous and false ways; the Scriptures sometimes call these crooked paths, because they do not lead us directly to heaven, but wind off. Sometimes our own paths, because they are not ways of God's institution, but of our own invention. Sometimes paths not cast up (Jeremiah 18:15), in opposition to ancient and established and perused ways prescribed by God, and insisted in by the old faithful servants of God. These paths are those of infidelity and impenitency and impiety. In this place they are called paths of righteousness, which again are two-fold, either —

1. Doctrinal, in which respect the precepts of God are called the paths of righteousness, a rule to a man in his journey, and that, if which he will still follow, will assuredly bring him to his journey's end; so the precepts of God are the rules of our lives, according to which, if we do square them, everlasting life would be the end of that journey.

2. Or practical, and this path of the righteous is that which the Scripture calls the path of the just, or the way of good men (Isaiah 26:7), and the paths of uprightness (Proverbs 2:13). And they are called paths in the plural number, not for diversity, but for number, and some of them respect —


(2)Man. (O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

The ordering of our hearts and lives according to the right line or rule which is God's Word; a course, not an act.

II. WHAT IS IT TO BE LED IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS? And they are called righteous paths —

1. Because the righteous God prescribes them.

2. Because the righteous person only walks in them.

3. Because they are the ways which are the right and only ways to lead us to our journey's end.


1. Because they are paths and ways suitable to His own nature. Every leader hath ways suitable to his own nature: the devil leads in ways like himself, sinful, unclean, etc. And God leads in ways suitable to Him; He is an holy God, and therefore leads in holy ways; a righteous God, and therefore leads His people in righteous paths.

2. Righteous paths are the best paths. God is the best God, His people are the best people, and righteous paths are the best paths. Best in many respects —(1) No paths so holy and clean.(2) Nor so safe. The way of the wielded seduceth them (Proverbs 12:26). Nothing exposeth us to more hazard than a sinful way; false ways are always unsure, many snares and dangers.(3) Nor so pleasant. On a good way, a man hath the company of a good God, and the peace of good conscience.(4) Nor so honourable. Wicked ways are ever most shameful.

IV. RIGHTEOUS WAYS ARE THE RIGHT WAY TO HEAVEN. God will lead His people in such ways wherein —

1. He may receive glory from them.

2. They may receive glory from Him. Their graces would never be exercised, nor sins subdued, were not the paths righteous, etc. For what is the exercise of grace, but a motion in a righteous path, graces breaking out, working, walking, if grace were only bestowed for our conversion, and not for our conversation?Consider —

1. There are divers paths and ways that men may walk in besides the paths of righteousness.

2. Though every man hath a path to walk in, yet naturally the way of righteousness we do not know.

3. Of all paths to walk in, our hearts are most averse to these.

4. What avails it though paths of righteousness be propounded unto you, and that you do know them, if all this while you are not led in those paths of righteousness? The properties of righteous paths are these —

(1)They are supernatural.

(2)They are difficult. It is more difficult to creep in a righteous path than to run in a wicked way.

(3)They are holy.

(4)They are straight, and not winding and crooked. One is a rectitude of conformity. Another is a rectitude of tendency.

(5)They are solitary.The qualifications of those persons who do or can walk in paths of righteousness. As affection is a property of these righteous walkers, so likewise is subjection. Circumspection is another property. Perfection. What a man must do, so that he may come to walk in paths of righteousness? He must get such a light of understanding which must clear his mind of

(1)extreme vanity, and

(2)of unjust prejudices.There must be resolution and courage.

1. Walk in these paths diligently.

2. Uniformly. Haltings and excursions, tripping in the way, or starting out of the way, are both opposite to a righteous walking.

3. Answerably. Not only to his profession, that his conversation be copied out of it, but also to his means and long standing.

4. Progressively.

5. Undauntedly.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

For His name's sake
But why is it that this great Shepherd will do those great things for me? Is it because He finds me to be a sounder sheep and to have fewer blemishes upon me than some other? Alas, no; for I am nothing but blemishes and unsoundness all over; but He will do it for His name's sake; for seeing He hath taken upon Him the name of a Good Shepherd, He will discharge His part, whatever His sheep be.

(Sir R. Baker.)

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