3 He restoreth my [soul/strength]:
he [leadeth/guides] me [in/down] the [paths of righteousness/right paths] for his [name's/reputation’s] sake.
Psalm 23 3 Commentary: He Restores My Soul
Now, I tend to think that the thought expressed in the first line of verse 3 goes along with the thoughts expressed in verse 2. In other words, it’s the food and drink and peace that the Lord uses to restore the soul of his sheep. He uses these means to restore our strength – both inwardly and outwardly.
Psalm 23 3 Commentary: Paths of Righteousness
So, then it seems that David starts a new train of thought in the second line of verse 3. David speaks of being led in certain paths. And sheep need this kind of leading. They don’t know what the right path is. They need the shepherd to lead them down the right – the righteous – path. In Israel – especially in the southern region where the terrain is comparable to the Bad Lands in South Dakota – as a nomadic shepherd would lead his sheep in search of those green pastures and still waters there would sometimes be places where the sheep would need to be led down various paths.
Psalm 23 3 Commentary: Where Has God Led You?
And the Lord does that for us his people just like a shepherd would lead his sheep. For those of us who have known the Lord for any amount of time, we can look back and see how he has led us down right paths. We look back and see the danger that would have confronted us if we went a different way. We marvel at God’s leading us.
Psalm 23 3 Commentary: For His Name's Sake
And why does he lead us? David says that it’s for his name’s sake. If a shepherd leads his sheep off a precipice, what does that do for that shepherd’s name – for his reputation? If a shepherd leads his flock into a pack of wolves, would his reputation as a shepherd not suffer damage?
Psalm 23 3 Commentary: The Lord's Prayer
The same is true of the Lord with his people. The same prayer that the Lord Jesus – our Good Shepherd – taught his disciples included these two requests. Both “hallowed be thy name” and “deliver us from evil.” There’s a connection between God’s name – his reputation – being exalted … and his delivering his people from evil – by leading us in the right paths.
Psalm 23 3 Commentary: Fearful Realities Await...
And yet, our Shepherd’s leading us down the right paths doesn’t mean a total absence of fear-inducing realities, as verse 4 admits and as we see in our Psalm 23 4 Commentary article.