Someone I spoke with a few weeks ago has a degree in Bible Exposition and told me that the Hebrew word translated “paths” of righteousness in Psalm 23 could also be translated “ruts.” He pointed out that when the sheep would follow the shepherd across the land to get water or good pasture again and again, a rut would be worn where they would travel. It is a groove in the earth. It is easier to choose that path in which to travel, as it is familiar and well worn.
I could relate to this as, where I ride our horses, the most popular trails are like this, too…at least a good 6 inches lower than the surrounding terrain–the path where the riders have taken their horses again and again is a definite rut.
The person I spoke with pointed out that there can be ruts of UNrighteousness in our lives, too. Wow…did this strike me. See, when my horse is out there on the trail and he can choose between walking in the rut that has clearly been followed many times before or walking on the higher road, he will choose the rut every time. The rut is the path of least resistance.
So, I wonder…am I following a rut of unrighteousness? Is there a behavior that I seem to fall into again and again? Have I convinced myself that I must remain in that rut? Or can I, like my horse, step up out of that rut and take the higher ground? Sure, it may be a bit rougher and untrodden–it may even take a bit of effort and definitely a choice…but the Lord will enable me to blaze a trail…a new trail…in my life–establishing a rut of righteousness.
Bringing it home: What ruts are in your life? Do you see a rut of unrighteousness that the Lord wants you to step up out of? Can you, with an act of your will, ask the Lord to empower you to lift first one foot then the other up out of it to the higher ground? Can you make the path of least resistance one that you do, in fact, resist?
Lord, I pray that you will keep me from falling into ruts of unrighteousness. I pray that I would experience your strength in my weakness and, with an act of my will, step up out of the rut, trusting you to make it be ok. I know you will do that, Lord. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.