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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 23

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Verse 1

Psalms 23:1



1. This Psalms has a child-like simplicity of faith.

2. Background (probable)

a. David on the eastern side of the Jordan River where he fled from Absalom to Mahanaim.

b. In intense grief, turns through power of association to childhood memories.

c. Compares his faith in God to that of the faith of a sheep in its shepherd.


A. Sheep are very helpless creatures.

B. John 10, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.”

C. He renders complete care for us, we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

D. The most telling word is “MY”, otherwise it would mock me to say the Lord is a shepherd, but not to me.

E. The second important word is “IS”, present tense. Sad when only can be used in the past tense.


A. Reason: “The Lord is my shepherd.”

B. When hungry he feeds me; weary, he gives me rest; when wounded, he restores my health; when lost, he guides me; when fearful, he gives me courage;

He graciously supplies all my needs.

Verse 2

Psalms 23:2


A. He leads to the green pastures where there is ample food.

B. The shepherd is very interested in the welfare of his sheep for he makes them lie down before taking them to water.

1) The sheep need to “ruminate” - to chew the cud; to meditate.

2) They would get sick if they drank on a full stomach, so they are given rest and allowed to chew their chud before drinking.

3) We need to meditate – to stay well mentally and physically we need to take time to rest and ponder.


A. It is very dangerous to water sheep in a rushing, running stream. Their wool will soak up water, get to heavy for them to swim and drown.

B. The shepherd will usually dam up a stream and let water form a still pool.

C. The shepherd won’t lead his flock into something dangerous for them.

D. He delivered us from evil, nether does he tempt us.

Verse 3

Psalms 23:3


A. When the sheep become lost or hurt, the good shepherd restores him.

1) He stores their confidence.

B. One man recalls how the sheep were lined up one morning going out to pasture when one of them got out of line and went over to the shepherd. He patted him and rubbed him behind the ears and this restored confidence in his shepherd and the sheep strolled back to the line.

C. David was restore often by God.

D. The sheep is rescued from danger by the shepherd, as David rescued his sheep from the bear and the lion.

E. A boy said to his mother, after falling off the bed, “Guess I went to sleep too close to where I got in.”

F. When God restore us, he restores us to a better position.


A. A sheep only has about 15 feet of clear visibility. He has no sense of direction– to find his way back when he strays. The sheep must be led in the right way.

B. The sheep follows the shepherd trustingly.

C. David’s fathers had so followed God in the wilderness.

D. Doesn’t mean the path will always be an easy one, sometimes rough and rocky, but trust in him for “tis my God that leadeth me.”

E. “In all they ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6.

Verse 4

Psalms 23:4

A. One of the most dangerous of all valleys or gorges in Palestine was one just east of Jerusalem, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, it was called the Shadow of Death Valley. It was very rough, if you missed you step on the sides of this gorge, you were a goner, and in addition there were in the days of David an extra number of wild beasts in that section.

B. This phrases speaks of going into the valley of a threatening situation, one lined with dangers and predators.

C. Notice the word “through”. We like this Psalms when sick, but one of these times we will be called to “go through” and not just “into” the valley of shadow of death.

D. “Rod and Staff” The club and crook, they give comfort to the sheep.

1) The club for fighting off wild beasts.

2) The staff was for rescuing the sheep when he fell into some ditch and for prodding him along in the right direction.

Verse 5

Psalms 23:5

Thou preparest a table ...

A. In the Palestine pastures there were many poisonous plants, and usually in the spring the shepherd would walk over the pasture pulling them up and burning them.

B. The shepherd, so to speak, prepares a table in the presence of enemies.

C. There were bears and mountain lions within the hills around Bethlehem in David’s day. The enemy was watching near by.

D. David was not on one side of the Jordan River and Absalom on the other – his enemy in his camp may have been able to see the camp fires of David.

E. How gracious and wonderfully the Lord also cares for

Thou anointest my head ...

A. “Anointest my head with oil.” When the sheep came into the fold at night the shepherd would look them over one by one, checking for burrs and injuries, and would anoint their head if injured.

1) That is, he gave medicinal blessings, and this gave great comfort to the sheep.

“My cup runneth over.”

Particularly for the wounded or especially tired sheep, he would bring water from the well to a trough. And this was a shepherd who was especially interested in his sheep and wanted them to get all they wanted, and so he overflowed their water cup.

Verse 6

Psalms 23:6

Surely goodness and mercy ...

A. Spoken as though “Goodness” and “Mercy” were two angels sent by God to walk with him all his life.

B. “Surely” – not a wish, but an expectation. With such a shepherd, what else to expect. Think of the supreme contentment a flock as this could have!

1) You’ve heard of “Milk from Contented Cows”, well here is “wool from contented sheep!”

C. With such a shepherd, only good was expected, and such was received.

“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

A. Living in the house of God – at home.

B. An American playwright in London working on a play became homesick and wrote the words, “Be it very so humble, thee’s no place like home.”

C. Our home with God is a prepared place – John 14:1-3

D. A prepared place for a prepared people.


1. On a ship crossing the Atlantic, one evening Two men were once called upon to recite the 23rd Psalms. The younger man was a great orator – when he finished the people applauded. The older man settled himself on a cane and also gave the 23rd Psalms. When he finished there was not noise, but only some tearful eyes. The young man got up and addressed the crowd solemnly. “ I received an ovation because I know the Psalms, but this gentleman knows the shepherd!”

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Psalms 23". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/psalms-23.html. 2021.
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