"He guides me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake." Psalm 23:3
We are in a middle of a series on God's covenant names as describe in Psalms 23. Today's verse is one few know and fewer still know what to do with the name, YHWH T'sidkenu (יְהֹוָה צֶדֶק).
First, let's break the above verse down from the Hebraic perspective.
he leads me: naha- to lead, guide
in the paths: ma'gal-entrenchment, track
of righteousness: sedeq- justice, rightness
For sake: mah'an- purpose, intent
His name: sem- name, reputation, fame, glory memorial, monument
Strung out the verse can read like this: He leads/guides me in the entrenchment/tracks of justice for the intent/purpose of His reputation and fame and glory.
Now, let's examine what righteousness means.
1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin. 2a : morally right or justifiable a righteous decision. b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality righteous indignation. 3 slang : genuine, excellent.
The words ‘YHWH Tsidkenu’ cannot be found in any commonly used Bible as they are a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase that is translated as ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ (Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16) in our English language bibles. Recently someone asked me "why do we have so many translations?" The short answer is because in the early church they were ministering to Greeks, the Hebrew was translated into Greek and apparently everyone seem to forget the original language. Consequently as time went on as we were more removed from our Jewish roots, so we were removed from understanding not only the Hebrew language but the culture as well. So when you take a passage like Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the hand of the tongue..." people don't understand the phrase "hand of the tongue", so we change it to suit or culture. Unfortunately with that, you have different versions that suit everyone's different way and meaning of speaking. It's funny to me, I mean, why not keep it awkwardly written for us and then we seek to learn that way of speaking rather than change it to meet our ways. "I the LORD do not change". (Malachi 3:6)
In any case, you need to know your Hebrew when studying the word of God, even more so when you are studying the covenant names of God.
Righteousness is not only an attribute of God's it's one of His names. You can call Him righteous and be talking to the Lord. Conversely if you called out in a crowd of people, "Hey! Really nice person!!" you might get a few people to turn mourned, though some might be feeling rather salty that day so it depends. When we say that God is righteous, we mean that there is no wrong, dishonesty, or unfairness in Him. In ever way possible, He is perfectly righteous. Per our definition above, in every way possible God is free from guilt, morally right, genuine and excellent. Though I hesitate to use a dictionary definition to describe our God, but here it helps wrap our minds around the truth a bit. The LORD is the one and only perfectly righteous one and His righteousness is a forever righteousness, "Your righteousness is righteous forever". (Psalm 119:142)
Looking at the LORD's covenant name, the LORD is my righteousness I can't help but think of the stark contrast between the LORD and me, or any person for that matter. Like David (Psalm 51) we are so painfully guilty of iniquity and sin that who can stand before a holy and righteous God? Yes our Jesus came, died, shed His blood and rose again in order that we might stand cleared, cleaned and perfect before this holy God. He came to clean out our bloodline (iniquity), He came to cleanse us from our habitual negative behaviors (sin) and He died and rose again so the purposeful can't help but so stupid things was forever removed (transgressions).
Maybe it's just me but when I read this second portion of Psalm 23:3 it gives the impression that the leading of righteousness is more of a path to walk, the righteous path. And I suppose it could mean that but to me this makes it more about me than about God. God is my Righteousness, He leads me in righteous paths which in turn, make me walk in HIS righteousness. We are righteous because He is. Think about that for a moment. Jesus told us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) It's not a hyperbole or a parable. We are told to be perfect yet many have taught and are teaching that well, after all we are just sinners saved by grace. No no no, correction. We were sinners, saved by grace- praise God! We are now righteous, holy, set apart, different from the rest of the world- or at least that's what our Savior said we would and should be. If you can go 5 seconds without sinning, then you can go five minutes, five hours, five days even, yes? Yet it's not a being perfect as in working it in our soul and flesh, making a check list and ticking them off one by so one so we are perfect.
Again, no no no. We simply step into His righteousness, as we step into Him. Remember- you are a spirit, you have a soul and you are in a body. Once your spirit is born again, saved by Jesus the Messiah, sinning is not who you are anymore. It's not your nature any longer. That was buried with Him, in His death and in His resurrection, you were raised up, seated with Jesus in the heavenly places. Most believers aren't taught that once they are saved it's like this instant metamorphosis begins to take place empowering you to leave the live you once live for the life He died to give you.
As we step into Him, we become His righteousness, He's made it just as if I'd never sinned. Justified.
In order to experience this we must step into it, pray to our LORD as my Righteousness, the Righteous Branch. Seek Him today as this, my friend. If this is a new name for you, pray and ask Him to show you this part of Himself. You're His child, He wants to show you all things, especially about Himself!