The Lord is my Shepherd
King James Version (KJV)
23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The words shall not want, would embrace everything that could be a proper object of desire, whether temporal or spiritual; whether pertaining to the body or the soul; whether having reference to time or to eternity.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
This places us in safely; and be safe all the night.
Deep waters, that the strongest heat could not exhale; not by a rippling current, which argues a shallow stream. From beyond this mighty and turbulent river, to our own country streams, wells, and fountains, where we enjoy peace, tranquillity, and rest.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Brings back my life from destruction; and converts my soul from sin, that it may not eternally perish. Or, after it has backslidden, heals its backslidings, and restores it to favor.
Thus we stand in reference to the Son of righteousness; not by his power alone we are able to walk uprightly; by His light we are enlightened; and by His heat we are vivified, and enabled to bring forth good fruit.
In right paths, or right ways. He conducts us in the straight path that leads to Himself; He does not permit me to wander in ways that would lead to ruin.
For His own sake; or, that His name may be honored. The feeling expressed in this verse is that of confidence in God; an assurance that He would always lead us in the path in which we should go.
This He will always do if people will follow the directions of His word, the teachings of His Spirit, and the guidance of His providence. No one who submits to Him in this way will ever go astray!
4 Yea, 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.
Though we, the flock, should walk through the most dismal valley, in the dead of the night, exposed to pitfalls, precipices, devouring beasts, etc., we should fear no evil under the guidance and protection of such a Shepherd. He knows all the passes, dangerous defiles, hidden pits, and abrupt precipices in the way; and He will guide us around, about, and through them.
For God as our companion we need fear no danger; for we can neither mistake our way, nor be injured.
God will lead and guide us in the path of righteousness, even though that path lies through the darkest and most gloomy vale – through deep and dismal shades – in regions where there is no light, as if death had cast dark and baleful shadow there.
In that dark and gloomy valley, though we could not guide ourselves, we will not be alarmed; we will not be afraid of wandering or of being lost; we will not fear any enemies there – for our Shepherd is there to guide us still.
The idea is that of death casting our gloomy shadow over that valley – the valley of the dead. Hence, the word is applicable to any path of gloom or sadness; any scene of trouble or sorrow; any dark and dangerous way. Thus understood, it is applicable not merely to death itself – though it embraces that – but to any or all the dark, the dangerous, and the gloomy paths which we tread in life: to ways of sadness, solitude, and sorrow. All along those paths God will be a safe and certain guide.
The true friend of God has nothing to fear in that dark valley. His great Shepherd will accompany us there, and can lead us safely through, however dark it may appear. The true believer has nothing to fear in the most gloomy scenes of life; we have nothing to fear in the valley of death; we have nothing to fear in the grave; we have nothing to fear in the world beyond.
Though invisible, thou wilt attend us. Thou wilt be with us, we shall not be alone.
Rod-Staff; It may not be easy to mark the difference between these two words; but they would seem probably to refer, the latter to the “staff” which the shepherd used in walking, and the former to the “crook” which a shepherd used for guiding his flock. The image is that of a shepherd in attendance on his flock, with a staff on which he leans with one hand; in the other hand the “crook” or rod which was the symbol of his office. Either of these also might be used to guard the flock, or to drive off the enemies of the flock. The “crook” is said to have been used to seize the legs of the sheep or goats when they were disposed to run away, and thus to keep them with the flock.
The shepherd invariably carries a rod or staff with him when he goes forth to feed his flock. It is often bent or hooked at one end, which gave rise to the shepherd’s crook in the hand of the Christian bishop. With this staff he rules and guides the flock to their green pastures, and defends them from their enemies. With it also he corrects them when disobedient, and brings them back when wandering.
The sight of them consoles us. They show that the Shepherd is there. As significant of His presence and His office, they impart confidence, showing that He will not leave me alone, and that He will defend me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
The image is now changed, though expressing the general idea which is indicated in the first verse of the psalm, “I shall not want.” The evidence or proof of this in the previous verses is, that God was a shepherd, and would provide for him as a shepherd does for his flock; the evidence here is that God had provided a table, or a feast, for him in the very presence of his enemies, and had filled his cup with joy.
It is spread in our presence, and for us.
That is, in spite of them (the enemy), or so that they could not prevent it. They were compelled to look on and see how God provided for him. It was manifest that this was from God; it was a proof of the divine favor; it furnished an assurance that he who had done this would never leave him to want. The friends of God are made to triumph in the very presence of their foes. Their enemies are compelled to see how He interposes in their behalf, how He provides for them, and how He defends them.
Thou dost pour oil on my head so abundantly that it seems to be made fat with it. The expression indicates abundance.
It is not merely “full;” it runs over. This, too, indicates abundance; and from the abundance of the favors thus bestowed, the psalmist infers that God would always provide for us, and that He would never leave us to want.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
God will bestow them upon us.
Through all its changes; in every variety of situation; until we reach its close.
That we hope and anticipate that we would live long on the earth.
We wish to live as if we were always engaged in solemn acts of worship, and occupied in holy things; we desire peace and joy in religion as if we were constantly in the place where God makes His abode, and allowed to partake of His smiles and friendship.
Jim David @ Inspirational Paintings- http://www.inspirationalpaintings.com/paintings.html
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