Psalm 23:3-4 - 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.
We are usually very concerned about our reputations. We want to be thought of as honest, truthful, and hard-working people. God is concerned for our reputations too and, so far as possible, wants others to think well of us, even though they may prefer at times to slander the people of God: "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). God is concerned about others' reputations as well. He commands, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16). We are to care about the reputation of our neighbor and guard it as closely as we guard our own.
But those are not the only reputations with which God is concerned. He jealously guards the holiness of His Name. Israel's unfaithfulness had caused God's holy Name to be profaned—to be treated with contempt—among the nations, and God acted in mercy for the sake of His Name: "I had concern for My holy Name ... It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy Name" (Ezekiel 36:21a, 22b). He brought His people out of exile and vindicated the holiness of His Name.
Our psalm of trust in the Lord, our Shepherd, also reminds us of the holiness and majesty of God's Name. For the sake of God's holy Name, acting out of His self-sacrificing love, Jesus our Shepherd laid down His life for us. Baptized, we are raised to new life and now bear the holy Name of the Triune God. Sins that bring harm to both our Lord's reputation and our own are washed away in His blood and, in exchange, He clothes us in His righteousness. Our crucified and risen Shepherd leads us "in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake." We walk in His steps, following a path of humility and holiness that honors the Name of Jesus.
The righteous path will one day lead us into "the valley of the shadow of death," a valley where our Shepherd has already walked. But even in those frightening shadows we are safe, guarded by Jesus' forgiving love and comforted by the promises of His Word. When this earthly path comes to its end, we will once again—and for all eternity—be marked with the Holy Name: "The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the Name of My God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from My God out of heaven, and My own new Name" (Revelation 3:12).
THE PRAYER: Dear Shepherd, by the power of Your Spirit, lead us on a path that brings honor to Your holy Name. When we wander, forgive and restore us. Guide us safely through the valley of the shadow of death to live in Your presence forever. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. When you think of God and the names we use for Him, which ones stand out to you most?
2. Among God's many names is that of "Shepherd." What do you think of when you use that term?
3. Since we are to mirror the qualities of God in our lives, how have you been a shepherd to others?
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