Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
God is said to lead us to two different places in this Psalm: still waters and the paths of righteousness. Still waters is the place of peace and safety. It is the place where we do not worry about attack and opposition. It is the place where we can feed and sleep knowing that our Good Shepherd is taking care of us. The path of righteousness is the life of righteousness that pleases God. Living the righteous life that God has graciously led us to through faith in Jesus Christ produces the inner peace. The place of peace that God leads us to produces a life of righteousness.
We have, first of all, peace with God through Jesus Christ and the consistent testimony of the New Testament is that salvation always results in holiness. There is nothing more miserable than a true believer who has sinned. He has taken a different path for a brief period. It may be a word said or an action done. Whatever the sin and whatever the time involved, it takes him away from the still waters where righteousness is found. The result is a believer who is not at peace. This may demonstrate itself in grumpiness, irritability, impatience, pessimism. It will be the absence of the fruit that the Holy Spirit bears in those who are His who walk by the Spirit.
Christians often think that they can fake their spirituality. How many are into late night porn, disrespect to wives, exasperation of their kids, unsubmissive to their husbands, out of sorts with fellow believers, never speaking to the lost regarding what God can do for them, refusing to repent and forgive. And all the while they maintain that their spiritual lives are in order. Their spiritual lives are superiorly out of order and in their hearts and minds the waters are not very still.
Verse 3 tells us that the reason we are led into these paths of righteousness is for the sake of His own name. This necessarily means that when we are not walking righteously and therefore not at peace we are causing God’s name not to be known. A Christian who is in sin and therefore not at peace is a detriment to the Gospel and a negative influence upon the glory of the great God that He claims to serve. O that Believers would understand that their behaviour effects more than their own little lives and their own sense of well being.
Sin makes God look like He is not the righteous King that He is. Sin should shame us, not first of all because of the discipline or the lack of peace it brings, but because it robs God of glory. Any believer who knows that and does not beat his body and make it his slave (I Corinthians 9:24-27) may very well be fooling himself regarding his faith in Christ. We will not always win the battles against sin that we are thrown into. But the real Christian will be more concerned about what his sin does to the name of his God than he is about what the consequences are for him if he falls and is disciplined by God.
So, how are you doing? Psalm 23 is the best known Psalm in all the Psalter. Christians have found comfort from it for 2000 years. We should rejoice in the fact that God is the God of comfort that this Psalm says He is. But let us not neglect to see and heed the warnings about what a lack of righteousness produces that we find in this Psalm. There are far far too many Christians who do not understand how this Psalm can be true given the fact that their lives are so absent of peace. They need to read it more carefully and they need to at least consider that part of the reason for their lack of peace is that they have not walked the path of righteousness that God has put them on. Don’t be one of those Christians. Today, live a disciplined day of righteousness and know the peace that God gives to those who obey Him.