Psalm 23:3b

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

The position of "shepherd" was a lowly one.  It was not one that people looked up to, aspired to, nor admired.  Even in this humble spot, though, a shepherd took pride in the health and appearance of his flock.  He didn't want sickly, weak, feeble sheep that would prove detrimental to his reputation.

So, what does it mean that he leads us in paths of righteouness for his name's sake?
First, let's look at "paths".  The route to grazing places were often difficult for the sheep and these paths needed to have adequate food and water. A shepherd needs to find not only good grazing places but also good routes to get to these places.  Sheep, if left to themselves, will follow the same path until it becomes a rut.  The path becomes not only void of grass to eat but also polluted with disease and parasites.  Sheep cannot be left to themselves - they require more handling and supervision than any other livestock. The shepherd must keep his flock on the move, shifting periodically from pasture to pasture.  This protects not only the sheep but also the landscape!  Such careful direction prevents overgrazing of the land and parasite infestation of the sheep.
So, a good shepherd is careful to take great care of his sheep. Not only because he cares about them but also because the welfare of his flock says alot about the kind of shepherd he is.  Therefore, he expends all his energy in keeping them safe, making sure they were well-fed and sufficiently watered, protecting them from not only external dangers but also from their own dumb mistakes.

So it is with our Good Shepherd.  He shows us how to live successfully ("walk in paths of righteousness").  The paths of righteouness ("right living") are not to restrict us from having fun- in fact, the complete opposite is true!  The paths our Shepherd directs us to lead to blessing and fullness of joy!  Walking His way keeps us from being slaughtered by the Enemy of our souls, keeps us from feasting on things that look good to us but are actually sources of poison and destruction.  I have found the primary source of such leading is through His Word. It is there that He teaches us the principles we need to live victoriously in this life.  Principles about finance, marriage, parenting, work, decision making, reconciliation, restoring our souls. 

We need to walk in the paths of righteousness because, otherwise, we get our selves in messes through UNrighteousness.  Notice that this phrase follows "He restores my soul".  The way to restoration is via the paths of righteouness.

Two final thoughts about "paths of righteouness".  First, I need reminding frequently that MY righteouness is unacceptable, ineffective for soul-restoration. My efforts to make myself happy or whole or good flat out do not produce the benefits I am striving for.  God actually describes the best I can do or be as "filthy rags".  Ugh.  I need, instead, the righteouness of Christ living in me and working through me.  That's what restores me to wholeness, brings beauty out of ashes, sets me in the place of victory.

Finally, we must remember that our restoration, the process of His righteouness working in our lives to produce right-living is not merely for our joy.  It is first and foremost for His glory, for HIS NAME'S SAKE.  He has chosen to entrust to us - His fallible, dumb, errant....and treasured...sheep - His reputation in the world.  Our lives are a reflection of Who He Is.  He leads us in paths of righteouness....for HIS NAME'S SAKE.