Most bible versions translate verse as “ He restores my soul; He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
This is a time when looking up the history of a word yields a big payoff. David literally wrote not paths of righteousness, but ruts of righteousness. He’s referring to the deep grooves worn in the roads by chariot wheels repeatedly taking the same path. Those ruts keep the wheels from wandering off course. God does much the same for us. He repeatedly guides us in thoughts and behaviors that will wear a ”rut” in our character and keep us from wandering off course.
In the Old Testament, Israelite culture, using someone’s name calls to mind their presence and their reputation. Notice that David does not refer to his own reputation at this point; he refers to God’s reputation. He doesn’t say “for my name’s sake.” He says For His name’s sake.
Of course, guiding believers into godly character affects our own reputation, but more crucially, our character impacts God’s reputation. When unbelievers meet one who walks in God-made ruts of righteousness, our interaction provides them with a glimpse of God’s character that hopefully, it draws them towards a relationship with Him.
Righteousness and Reputations
© Lynne Fox, 2020