The Circles of Righteousness
Psalm 23:3 He leads me in the paths of righteousness.
To get the true understanding of the truth of scripture, it is necessary to examine the original text.
Neh 8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the
people stood in their place.
Neh 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
When the people of Israel came back from captivity in Babylon, they had lost their language and the understanding of the scriptures. The Levites needed to interpret the scriptures correctly, from the original texts.
Translations do not replace the original language.
Translation into other tongues can sometimes lose the true meaning of the text. On occasion it is good to look at the original to get the full meaning.
Psalm 23:3 is an example of this.
To understand the Psalm we have to understand what a shepherd was and what he did in Biblical times.
David was a shepherd and a king. He was a shadow of Jesus.
Jesus is the great shepherd and King.
All kings were compared to David.
David was a man after God’s own heart and he was made a standard by which all future kings were judged.
Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Just in the same way that all shepherds of the sheep, (Episcope, bishop) is judged by Christ’s standard.
A shepherd is one that tends, oversees, looks after the flock.
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Jesus is our great shepherd.
“The Lord is my shepherd” literally Adonai (Yahweh) (Jehovah).
The Hebrew word for “He leads” is (Hebrew—Ynicheni) it means to lead, direct, guide, instruct, officiate and moderate.
The question then follows, How will I know how to recognize His voice? How can I know to follow His lead?” Just as a sheep follows the shepherd and recognises his voice.
In order to know the Lord, we are to spend time with Him. Read His Word. Discern His will for us. His will, the Old will and the New will.
The Old and New Testaments.
Through His Word (The Bible) we get to recognise His voice, we learn how to hear His voice. He guides us by it, through the Holy Spirit.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Jesus is my shepherd. He will not lead us astray. He leads me into green pastures ( lush meadows). He guards my way.
The Lord wants to guide us in continuous “circles” of righteousness;
He leads me in the paths (literally, cycles or circles) of righteousness.
Proverbs 2:1-9 “My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.”
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.
Paths (Hebrew – Ma gal – Ma galah) (also a rampart (as circular) .(circumvallation)
Circumvallation, a circled defensive wall of a castle, or walled city.
"A small stream encircled the space between the inner and outer circumvallations"
First of all, scripture points out that most of us are a stiff-necked people and a stubborn lot. We prefer to follow our own ways.
Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way."
Sheep are well known creatures of habit. If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts. If they stick to the same path over and over again they pick up disease, mites and get sick.
Just as sheep will blindly, habitually, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails until they become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies, so we humans cling to the same habits that we have seen ruin other lives.
We get into a cycle of unrighteousness and pick up bad things.
How many times do we hear, “I am in a vicious circle”
We think we are getting it right but end up back in the same position.
Whether it is relationships, finance, certain recurring sin, we always seem to land back in the same position.
When we depend on ourselves and go our own way, we go round in circles.
Psalm 23 in English it reads, ”He leads me in paths of righteousness”, but in the original Hebrew it says “He leads me in the cycles or circles of righteousness” or it could be "round paths of righteousness".
If the sheep did not follow the shepherd, they would drink from the putrid water of the dead sea, or head for the “wadi”, (the water bed that very
often sees flash floods) and were they were in danger of being carried away by the rains.
The path that the shepherd would lead the sheep, was in circles, up the hill, to new pastures, to the good, still waters at the top.
Ps 23:3 He restores my soul: He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names´ sake.
Restores, (Hebrew—shoob) (has the meaning of turn back or repent)
He brings me to repentance. (the circle of righteousness).
V23:3 is a typical English translation of this very well-known verse of probably the best known and most often quoted Psalm of David.
We have generally considered it to mean that God will direct us, day by day, as we go about our business, if we are careful to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit within.
That is certainly a valid interpretation and it is true; He does guide and lead us every day both through the written Word and by His example and through promptings of the Holy Spirit (if we are willing to stop and listen).
In the Hebrew text, though, there is a much deeper, older meaning that has been pretty much lost to the church, probably in the English translation.
The phrase that is translated “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names´ sake” in Hebrew is:
“yanheni bema´geley tzedeq lema´an shemo“.
yanheni – He leads me/He guides me/He bestows on me,
bema´geley – be=in, ma=out of, galah=circles, cycles, round paths
lema´an=heed, purpose, on account of
shemo=His Name, authority.
A more literal translation could be:
“He leads me in and out, guides me from and bestows on me his paths/cycles of righteousness on account of His name and authority.”
The Hebrews saw things in life as cyclical; everything is based on cycles that we can observe and see around us in creation.
The preacher in Ecclesiastes speaks a lot about the circles of life.
Ecclesiastes 1:3-5 What profit hath a man from all his labor which he doeth under the sun?
4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever.
5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteneth to his place where he arose.
Seed - plant - fruit – seed, for example.
Second – Minute – Hour -Day – Week – Year.
Spring – Summer – Autumn – Winter.
Birth – Life – Death.
God also gave His people a calendar to keep track of these cycles of days, weeks, months and years and set the sun, moon and stars in place to help us keep track of those “cycles of time” by which he governs the universe.
Genesis 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs (Hebrew - l´otot) and seasons (Hebrew - u´le´moedim) and days (Hebrew - u´le ´yamiym) and years (Hebrew - v´shaniym).
There are two significant words here; signs (Hebrew - oth, plural. otot) and seasons (moedim).
The “im” on the end makes it a plural. myudm-myudm.
The term signs, refers to way markers or sign posts and is spelled in Hebrew:
A T H
We read of these way markers in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you
will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.
Hebrew is a pictoral language: each letter in Hebrew has a distinct meaning (shown by the picture that the letter represents) and an understanding of the meaning of a Hebrew word can be gained by looking at the meaning of the individual letters making up the word.
Jer 31:21 Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.
Another translation: Set up for yourself road marks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway. The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities.
Aleph is a picture of an ox head and the basic meaning is strength.
Tav is a pair of crossed sticks and represents a cross.
Hey is a picture of a man with his hands raised saying “Behold” and can also mean "revealed".
ALEPH = Ox head TAV = Cross HE = Behold
The letter He or hei, also in Hebrew refers to the breath of God.
Aleph, Tav, Hey, (Oth) the way markers or sign posts then literally means “The strength of the cross, behold”. Or “the strength of the Cross revealed”.
Our righteousness comes from God (Aleph) by the cross (Tav), revealed to us by the breath of God (Hey).
The other word “Seasons” is “moedim” – spelled in Hebrew:
Mem Yod Ayin Dalet Mem
It can be translated “appointed times”
It is a place, time or event that is repeated over and over again. (Cyclical)
So, it can be read, “the signs and seasons are the strength of the cross revealed in the appointed times”.
God continually “restores my soul” by leading me to repentance,
guiding me, “He leads me in circles of righteousness” by constantly bringing me back to the way markers or sign posts (the foot of the cross). This is all part of my growth and sanctification.
“for His names sake” (literally as though for Himself). To His Glory.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Sanctified)
At the appointed time, God called us, justified us, sanctified us and He will glorify us.
In the meanwhile: Psalm 23, (Literal translation:)
Psa 23:1 Yehovah is my shepherd; I shall not lack.
Psa 23:2 In lush meadows, He lays me down, beside waters tranquil, he leads me.
Psa 23:3 My soul He restores, he leadeth me in the circles of righteousness for his name's sake.
Psa 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and grace will pursue me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Yehovah for the length of days.