Exploring Hope: Paths of righteousness

Psalm 23 is a beautiful piece of ancient Hebrew poetry that countless believers have sung and prayed for generations. Therefore, taking a verse a month, we are walking through this psalm verse by verse. And today, we find ourselves in verse 3:

"He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake (Psalms 23:3 KJV)."

Now, you may not think about the concept of righteousness very often. You may even have a negative association with the word because of self-righteousness or a holier than thou attitude. But according to this verse from Psalm 23, God leads us in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.

But what does this mean?

Well, God is the one who leads, so it is the opposite of self-righteousness. It is God-righteousness! He is the righteous God who defines true righteousness through his holy and perfect character. And then he opens a path of righteousness where we can walk and follow him.

But notice that God is also the one who leads us in this path of righteousness for his own name’s sake. In other words, he doesn’t lead us because we’re just that good or because we have it all together. He leads us in the paths of righteousness because he is the measure of true righteousness. He leads us so that he can get all the glory and all the credit for our salvation.

But how does he lead us in this path? Well, in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says,

For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:3-4 ESV).

Do you see what the apostle is saying? If we seek to walk in the path of our own righteousness, we won’t submit to the righteousness of God. But Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. So, when we admit that we can’t be righteous by our own strength and trust in Christ alone for salvation, our sin is counted to him on the cross, and his perfect life is counted to us as we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ like a garment.

And that’s what the Apostle Paul is describing when he says,

For [Christ’s] sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11 ESV).

In other words, Paul is saying that he wants to be found, not in self-righteousness, but in Christ-righteousness, clothed in his perfect life and sacrificial death. In other words, he is saying, “Lord Jesus, lead me in the path of righteousness for your name’s sake.”

Ways to pray:

  1. Lord, forgive me for walking in the paths of unrighteousness and self-righteousness.
  2. God, thank you for leading me in the path of righteousness for your namesake!
  3. I feel down and depressed today, God. Please help me remember that I have been clothed in the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness through faith in his name.



About Will Stern

Originally from Colorado, Will Stern is the pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Garnet Valley. He majored in violin performance for his undergrad and taught violin for a number of years before being called into ministry. He studied theology at Duke University and Westminster Theological Seminary.



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