He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name…
Or “for his name’s sake”, as we more traditionally know it.
Honestly, that phrase “for his name’s sake” has always largely passed me by – I’ve never given it much thought. It wasn’t until I read it in the New Living Translation – “bringing honour to his name” – that it somehow stuck out more for me.
The aim of God’s guidance isn’t primarily our happiness or prosperity. It’s his honour and glory.
Let’s think about that again.
The main result of our following God’s leading along his right paths must always be to bring glory and honour to his name.
It’s not that he doesn’t care about us and our wellbeing. The rest of this psalm proves very much that he does. But his glory is paramount. The very first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is this: “What is the chief end (or primary purpose) of man?” And the answer? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Those around us praising him for what he has done in our lives, our unbelieving friends seeing something of the goodness of God in us, our wholehearted worship of him because he alone deserves it – this is how we give God glory and honour him.
So what does it mean for God to lead us in right paths for his glory?
It means that sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zone, because only then do we truly rely on him. Which brings him glory.
It means that sometimes we face really unimaginably hard things, because only then do we show that he is truly all that we need. Which brings him glory.
It means that we might have to tell our story of brokenness, because only then do we prove that no-one is beyond God’s redemption. Which brings him glory.
It means that we might be called on to use a gift that we didn’t even know we possessed, because only then do we realise that our gifts and strengths aren’t our own, but God-given. Which brings him glory.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now
Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death.
(Philippians 1: 20, but read 18-26 if you can)
We often talk about God leading us, and wonder how he might do it. I don’t believe there is one way. Sometimes it might be a bolt of lightning, a “road to Damascus” experience. But more often than not, I think it’s in simply praying for his leading, and then taking a step. It might be in a gentle word from a pastor or a friend, or in a general feeling, something that has been on your mind for awhile. But if we live our lives in the prayer that he will lead us, then he will lead us! And his paths are always good, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
I recently read an interview with the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who is a Christian, and one phrase he used has stuck with me. He was talking about his faith, and he said this: “I am in sensationally good hands”.
If we believe that God is always good, and that his paths are always right and his plans always best, for HIS name’s sake, then we can rest in the knowledge that we are firmly held in sensationally good hands.