Psalm 23:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 23:3   

“He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3

Let me start by referring to verses one and two, for there is context here I would like to bring up.  “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” Psalm 23:1-2.  The main job of the shepherd is to take care of the flock, providing all their needs.  David, in referring to God as the great shepherd was saying that God provides everything we need.  Every day He leads us to green pastures and to quiet waters where we have access to good food and fresh water we need regularly.  These verses refer to our physical needs.

Moving on to verse three, our focus verse, we see another aspect of His shepherdship.  “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3.  In the Hebrew, He restoreth my soul has the idea of bringing it back.  No creature is more ready to go astray, or more likely not to know the way back, then a sheep.  Isaiah says it this way, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” Isaiah 53:6. 

When we are saved, we become a part of Christ’s flock.  He feeds us and supplies our every need.  However, there may be times we find ourselves wandering.  Unfortunately, we are not perfect, even after we give our lives to Him.  However, if we wonder away, He will come after us because we may not know exactly the way back.  We see this in the parable of the lost sheep.  “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” Matthew 18:12-14.  Putting this back into the vernacular of Psalm twenty-three, He restores our soul means to bring us back to the flock.   We also read in an earlier Psalm about restoring the soul.  “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7. His word is used to reprove us when necessary, as well as train us in God’s ways.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16. 

He also guides us in the paths of righteousness.  “He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3b.  In this sense, it is not referring to paths that lead us to salvation, although He also does this.  However, what he is referring to are straight and even paths that do not lead us astray but directly to our destination.  And our destination is righteousness, salvation and holiness.  He will always avoid those paths that take us where we should not go but will only take us on roads that bring us directly to where we need to be.

It is important that we stay close to our shepherd, Jesus Christ, for He will keep us free from danger and lead us to the land flowing with milk and honey.  If we focus on Him and His word, we will be less likely to wonder away and get lost.  And if we do, He will go after us and bring us back to where we need to be.  This is the picture of our great shepherd Jesus the Christ, and how He will always guide us to where we should go, and if we wonder will bring us back.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Acts 8:31

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 8:31  

“And he said, Well, how could I, unless someone guides me? And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” – Acts 8:31 

This story starts off with an angel reaching out to Philip with a specific task to perform.  “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Acts 8:26b.  And what was Philip’s response?  He immediately gets up and goes where the angel tells him.  He had no idea why, and he did not take the time to ask.  He simply started on his journey in the direction he was being led.  And while he is going south, he comes across an Ethiopian eunuch sitting in his chariot reading the words of the prophet Isaiah. “Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Acts 8:20. Notice again, no question or hesitation from Philip.

When Philip gets to the chariot and notices the Eunuch is reading Isaiah the prophet, he asks him a question.  “Do you understand what you are reading?” Acts 8:30b.  Being that this man was from Ethiopia it was a good question to ask for it was a place where few if any would read from the Jewish texts.  “And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”  Acts 8:31. Sounds like he This man was open and honest with Philip.  He did not pretend to know anything, which is a sign that he truly was looking to know exactly what he was reading.

Now, based on what the man was reading, I believe that God led him to this text, for he was reading of the Messiah, the one sent to die for this man’s sins.  “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?” Isaiah 53:7-8.  The Eunuch than asked Philip a question.  “The Eunuch answered Philip and said,  Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” Acts 8:34.  What a great question, and Philip used it to teach him about Jesus.

This man understood and accepted what Philip was explaining to him.  He assured him again by asking a question.  “As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:36. Philip answers by asking him a question.  “And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:37. After this, Philip baptized him and then was taken away, and the Eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

This is a powerful story which speaks loudly on how God will use us in His work here on earth.  Many times, He will tell us to go somewhere or to somebody because He has an important work for us to do.  And like with Philip, He may only tell us where to go or who to speak with.  We should be open to hearing the leading of the Lord and ready to follow at any time.  Philip opened the conversation with an honest question and received an honest answer.  Those who are truly seeking will be open to us when they see we care about them and can help them understand the things of God.  And as Philip’s ears and heart was open to the guidance of God in this incident, we should always be open to what God is telling us to do, even if it appears to make no sense. The important thing to understand is that if God is leading us somewhere, it does make sense and will come to a wonderful good.

I want to encourage us all to be open to the leading and guiding of God in our lives.  He wants to use us and will bring about much good if we allow ourselves to be used.  As Philip showed us, if God calls us to do something, we should not delay in following His leading.  He has a reason for what He wants us to do and when He wants it done.  I remember when I felt God leading me into downtown Miami in the middle of the night which resulted in leading a young man to stop his drug usage and go back to the Lord, as well as going home to his dad.  It was an amazing night, and I am still humbled when I look back and see what God did that evening.  God wants to use us here in His work.  So, as Philip knew and heard the words of God and went immediately when called, so should we when He calls us to do His work.  We have no idea what we can accomplish when we give our lives totally to His service.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.