Keep Your Eyes on the Good Shepherd, June 2023

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3, NKJV).

In a recent devotional article, Joni Eareckson Tada writes, “A life that pleases the Lord is never a smooth road. Today’s Scripture tells us that our Shepherd guides us along the right paths—paths of righteousness. That is true, but sadly, we often shake off his guiding hand. His path might interest us for a while, but then we allow sin to beckon us down a detour… We are so prone to wander—so inclined to leave his path and run away from his lordship. But how gracious and patient he is with us! The psalmist David wrote, ‘He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust’ (Psalm 103:14, NIV)” (Joni Eareckson Tada, “Prone to Wander,” 18 May 2023, https://

Her particular reference to righteousness caught my attention. Outside of John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm is probably the most memorized and most familiar passage in the Bible. It is a Psalm of comfort that soothes our soul. It is a Psalm that con- nects us directly to the shepherd imagery used by Jesus: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11, NIV). Extremely soothing and comfort- ing, indeed.

However, the beginning of the Psalm reminds us of the covenant relationship that the Lord has established with us. In order to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and to “fear no evil” and to eat a banquet “in the presence of my enemies,” I must follow the Shepherd “in the paths of righteousness.” This is a reality that we are not to take lightly. Only God has the authority to define righteousness (or holiness). Our human nature is to deny and defy righteousness, as revealed in Genesis 3. In a reference to Psalm 14:1-3, Paul wrote, “There is no one right- eous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-11, NIV).

Thankfully, there is a cure. As God reveals in His Word, God gives us what we cannot attain: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus

Christ” (Romans 3:22-24, NIV). In the sermon “Remember the Goal,” I concluded that “God wants us to be [in heaven]. In order to be there, we have to be able to ‘see His face.’ In or- der to ‘see His face,’ we have to ‘be holy, because He is holy.’ Because we cannot make ourselves holy, God will make us holy. That is the goal” (Pastor Chuck Layne, “Remember the Goal,” 25 September 2022, v=n_6ChDaZ_HU).

From the start of our restored relationship with God and throughout our spiritual walk with Him, our Good Shepherd guides along His paths of righteousness. No matter how far afield we may wander, His grace brings us back to His paths of righteousness, which is Good News indeed. But better news for us – the sheep in His pasture – is to keep our eyes on our Good Shepherd and to follow the path where He leads, for it is on His path that we receive His victory over the devastations of sin.

“And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6b, NKJV). Amen!

In the Bond of Christian Victory,

-Pastor Chuck-