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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 23

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-6

Psalms 23:0

Introduction - The theme of Psalms 23:0 is found in verse one, “When we look to the Lord as our Shepherd, we will not want.” When the Lord is looking out for us, all of our needs will be taken care of. God never created us to experience lack. His original plan as we see in the Garden of Eden was to give man abundance. It is only when man forsook the Lord that lack and poverty came into his life. God will take care of our spiritual needs (Psalms 23:2), our mental needs (Psalms 23:3), our physical needs (Psalms 23:4) and our financial, or material, needs (Psalms 23:5). All of these needs are met out of His goodness and mercy (Psalms 23:6) and not because of our own righteousness.

God goes before us daily to prepare our way. When we choose to walk in this way, His goodness and mercy are found. If we follow our own path, there is lack and despair. When Paul the apostle walked in God’s plan for his life, all of his needs were supplied (Philippians 4:18).

Philippians 4:18, “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”

Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

“Heaven’s resources are at thy command, and thou needest never to want, so long as I am thy Shepherd. Think not in thine heart that since I know all about thee, thou needest not tell Me. It is true that I know, but ye need to tell Me so that in the telling ye may experience the release of an open heart, and the fellowship of a Friend.” [29]

[29] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 111.

Psalms 23:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd” Comments - Jesus is a Good Shepherd. A good shepherd is measured by the condition of his flock. For example, if you saw a shepherd walking down the road with a scarlet robe, holding a gold inlaid staff, with rich jewelry, you might as first thing that this was a noble person. But is his sheep that follow him are dirty, their ribs poke thru their fur, some are cut and bruised, and even have broken legs, you would no longer look at this man as good, but rather a bad shepherd. In addition, a good parent is measured by looking as the behaviour of their children, and not by the wealth of their home and car.

Notice how well taken care of the sheep are in this twenty-third Psalm. They lack nothing. There is plenty of food. Anytime you see cattle or sheep laying down during the day under a cool tree, it is because they have fed well that morning. The sheep in this Psalm are able lie down in green pastures with security and abundance.

Scripture References - Many other verses in the Scriptures refer to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as a type of shepherd over His people. Jesus is the good shepherd who went one step further than David's list. Jesus gave his life for the sheep (John 10:11).

John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

Other similar verses:

Genesis 48:15, “And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,”

Psalms 78:52-53, “But made his own people to go forth like sheep , and guided them in the wilderness like a flock . And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.”

Psalms 80:1, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.”

Psalms 100:3, “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture .”

Ezekiel 34:31, “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture , are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.”

John 10:14, “ I am the good shepherd , and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”

Hebrews 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep , through the blood of the everlasting covenant,”

1 Peter 2:25, “For ye were as sheep going astray ; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

1 Peter 5:2-4, “ Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock . And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

Psalms 23:1 “I shall not want” Word Study on “want” - Strong says the Hebrew word “want” ( חָסֵר ) (H2637) means, “to lack, fail.” Holladay says it means, “to do without.”

Comments - In Exodus 16:18, all of the people had enough manna. God moved on the hearts of those able to gather and blessed the souls who were not able to gather enough for their own needs.

Exodus 16:18, “And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack ; they gathered every man according to his eating.”

In Acts 16:33-34, the jailer met the needs of Paul and Silas. That night Psalms 23:1 was again fulfilled.

Acts 16:33-34, “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Nothing is impossible with God. Trust God, so shall your baskets be full, your cupboards running over and your needs met. Praise the Lord. If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.

Scripture References - Other verses make this same statement.

Deuteronomy 2:7, “For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing .”

Deuteronomy 8:9, “ A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it ; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”

Psalms 34:9-10, “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him . The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing .”

Proverbs 13:25, “ The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul : but the belly of the wicked shall want.”

Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you .”

Psalms 23:1 Comments - Tom Leuther, then an associate pastor of Calvary Cathedral International, said that the Lord spoke these words to him, saying “To the degree that I am your shepherd is the degree that you shall not want.” [30] Mike Murdock said the Lord spoke to him and said, “Every step towards self-sufficiency is a step away from Me.” [31] We cannot lie down in green pastures without allowing Jesus Christ to be our Shepherd. We cannot be led beside still waters without Him being our Shepherd. Our soul cannot be restored without being led by our Shepherd. Only our Shepherd can lead us in the paths of righteousness. We cannot walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear unless He is our Shepherd. His rod and staff cannot be our comfort unless He is our Great Shepherd. We cannot partake of His table of blessings in the midst of enemies without the Great Shepherd. Our head cannot be anointed and our cup running over without Him being our Shepherd. His goodness and mercy will not follow us without Him being our Shepherd. We will not dwell eternally in the house of the Lord unless He is our Shepherd.

[30] Tom Leuther, “Sermon,” Calvary Cathedral International, Fort Worth, Texas.

[31] Mike Murdock, interviewed by Rod Parsley, Breakthrough (Columbus, Ohio: Rod Parsley Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 23 May 2010.

Psalms 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psalms 23:2 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” Comments - The phrase “green pastures” refers to “pastures of tender grass.” Matthew Henry says, “God’s ordinances are the green pastures in which food is provided for all believers; the word of life is the nourishment of the new man. It is milk for babes, pasture for sheep, never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but always a green pasture for faith to feed in.” [32] Note 2 Samuel 23:4, “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.”

[32] Matthew Henry, Psalm, in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Psalms 23:2.

Notes these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts about the meaning of green pastures:

“When I promised thee green pastures, I had not in mind religious activity. When I said, ‘Come, buy milk and honey without money nor price’, I was not challenging thee to fevered service, but to contemplative fellowship and collective communion. Only thus are souls made strong, and hearts made pure, and minds refreshed.” [33]

[33] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 136.

Scripture References - Note similar verses regarding a flock lying down:

Song of Solomon 1:7, “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?”

Jeremiah 33:12, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down .”

Ezekiel 34:4, “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.”

Scripture References - Note similar verses regarding green pastures and how God dries them up:

Jeremiah 23:10, “For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up , and their course is evil, and their force is not right.”

Jeremiah 25:37, “And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD .”

Lamentations 2:2, “ The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob , and hath not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought them down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof.”

Amos 1:2, “And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion , and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn , and the top of Carmel shall wither.”

Lamentations 2:2, “ The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob .”

Joel 2:22, 'Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring , for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.”

Psalms 23:2 “he leadeth me beside the still waters” - Word Study on “still” The Hebrew word “still” means “rest or satisfaction” (Psalms 91:16; Psalms 95:11; Psalms 116:7; Psalms 132:8; Psalms 132:14, Isaiah 28:12; Isaiah 32:18, Jeremiah 6:16, Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 4:1-11). The same Hebrew word is used in Deuteronomy 12:9.

Deuteronomy 12:9, “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.”

Psalms 91:16, “With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”

Psalms 95:11, “Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest . “

Psalms 116:7, “Return unto thy rest , O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.”

Psalms 132:8, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest ; thou, and the ark of thy

strength.”

Psalms 132:14, “This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”

Isaiah 28:12, “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest ; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”

Isaiah 32:18, “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation , and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;”

Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. “

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Hebrews 4:1-11 - Labour to enter into rest.

Word Study for “waters” - The Hebrew word “water” (H4325) is always used in the plural form. It appears fifty times in the Old Testament and has a wide range of meanings. It literally means, “waters, floods, or seas.” It occurs as a metaphor for the raging heathen, the chaotic, stormy seas at creation, and for vast nations, (or seas of people). It is used figuratively here to speak of life, sustenance, fertility, blessing, and refreshing. Note:

Psalms 1:3, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water , that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of

salvation.”

Isaiah 32:2, “And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters , and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

Isaiah 58:11, “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water , whose waters fail not.”

Jeremiah 17:8, “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters , and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”

Comments - The phrase “still waters” literally means, “waters of “stillness,” whose quiet flow invites to repose. They are contrasted with boisterous streams on the one hand, and stagnant, offensive pools on the other.

God passes judgment upon the evil shepherds in Ezekiel 34:11-16; Ezekiel 34:25-31, but gives peace to His flock.

Psalms 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Psalms 23:3 “He restoreth my soul” - Scripture References - Note a similar passage:

2 Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

Psalms 23:3 “he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake” Comments - How does God lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake? We see in 2 Samuel 12:14 that sin in the life of King caused the Lord's name to be blasphemed by the sinners. This principle is true in every believer’s life (Romans 2:24, 1 Timothy 6:1, 2 Peter 2:2).

2 Samuel 12:14, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme , the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.”

Romans 2:24, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.”

1 Timothy 6:1, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed .”

2 Peter 2:2, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of .”

Scripture References - Note similar verses that refer to “paths of righteousness”:

Psalms 65:11, “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness .”

Proverbs 4:11, “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.”

Proverbs 4:26, “Ponder the path of thy feet , and let all thy ways be established.”

Isaiah 26:7, “The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just .”

Psalms 23:4 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.

Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” - Comments The event of David facing Goliath in the valley are commonly associated with the phrase “the valley of the shadow of death,” since he fought Goliath in a valley (1 Samuel 17:2; 1 Samuel 17:40). [34]

[34] Dave Wilkinson, David and Goliath, Moorpark Presbyterian Church, Moorpark, California, 27 April 2008 [on-line]; accessed 14 June 2011; available from http://www.mppres.org/sermons/2008/Apr27.html; Internet.

1 Samuel 17:2, “And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah , and set the battle in array against the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 17:40, “And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five

smooth stones out of the brook , and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”

A valley was a place where a man of war was vulnerable, unlike the security of the high rocks.

Comments Every person faces trials during his lifetime. The walk through the valley of the shadow of death involves a person’s experiences, feelings and emotions. This is the natural man looking at life’s difficult circumstances. In contrast, the decision to fear no evil is an attitude of the heart, which is the spirit man speaking in faith.

Illustration - When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2006, I was troubled emotionally. It took me a while to get my fears and anxieties under control. However, all through this time of the initial news, there was a pounding faith in my hearts that declared, “I will not fear.” Those years of meditating upon healing Scriptures and God’s promises embedded within my heart the faith to overcome fear. I rose up and stood in faith, so that I did not have any surgery, but simply looked to the Lord for wisdom. He gave me some Scriptures that explained the cause and the cure for this disease that had encroached within my body. Now, having stood in faith and sought God’s wisdom, I could overcome it and walk in health the rest of my life. The Lord was with me, and comforted me with His Word.

Scripture References - The phrase “the shadow of death” is used in other Scriptures (Job 3:5, Isaiah 9:2).

Job 3:5, “Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.”

Isaiah 9:2, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death , upon them hath the light shined.”

Psalms 23:4 “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” Word Study on “comfort” - Gesenius says the Hebrew word “comfort” (H5162) literally means, “to draw the breathe forcibly, to pant, to groan.” He says in the Niphal it means, “to lament, to grieve, to repent” and in the Piel, “to comfort,” and in the Hithpael, “to grieve, to repent, to comfort oneself, to take revenge.” The TWOT says this word is not used in the Qal, but primarily in the Niphal and the Piel. The E nhanced Strong says this word is used 108 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “comfort 57,” “repent 41,” “comforter 9,” and “ Ecclesiastes 1:0.” The idea of repenting suggests the idea of deep signing because of regret. In its sense of comfort, the Piel form intensifies the action, so that it carries the idea of deep concern, rather than casual sorrow, so that someone joins with a person in weeping and signing together. [35] The TWOT says from this word are derived the names like “Naham,” meaning “comfort,” [ PTW ] “Nahum,” meaning “comforter,” [ PTW ] and “Nehemiah,” meaning “Jehovah is consolation,” [ PTW ] and “Menahem, meaning “comforter” [ PTW ].

[35] Dick Mills, and David Mills, “Word Wealth on Psalms 23:4: Comfort,” Spirit Filled Life Bible: New King James Version, e d. Jack W. Hayford (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c1991),773.

Comments - Matthew Henry said that the rod and staff allude to “the shepherd’s crook, or the rod under which the sheep passed when they were counted (Leviticus 27:32), or the staff with which the shepherds drove away the dogs that would scatter or worry the sheep.” [36]

[36] Matthew Henry, Psalm, in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Psalms 23:4.

Leviticus 27:32, “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod , the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.”

Psalms 23:4 Comments - Kenneth Hagin understands that Psalms 23:0 reflects the Christian life. He says every believer is walking through the valley of the shadow of death because Satan has become the god of this world. [37]

[37] Kenneth Hagin, The Triumphant Church (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1993, 1994), 162.

Psalms 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Psalms 23:5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” Comments - We see this table prepared for us in Proverbs 9:1-5. It is a table of meat and wine, of blessings and prosperity. Meat and wine are eaten during times of feasts and weddings, and not normally for everyday use. The poor man lived on bread and water, but divine wisdom will give us God's best every day that we serve Him and eat at His table.

Comments - Notice that God does not always remove our enemies from our presents. God often wants us to learn how to partake of His table of blessings in the midst of our difficult circumstances. But we cannot do this without making Jesus our Shepherd on a daily basis.

Scripture References - Note other uses of the word “table.”

2 Samuel 9:11, “Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table , as one of the king's sons.”

Psalms 69:22, “ Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.”

Psalms 78:19, “Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? ”

Malachi 1:12, “But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted ; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.”

Luke 22:30, “ That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom , and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Psalms 23:5 “my cup runneth over” Comments - When we pour into our cups and glasses at the dinner table, it is our nature to stop before the cup is full so that it does not spill onto the table and then the floor. But this is not God’s nature. God gives His children more than enough. God’s will is that we have exceeding, abundantly, above all that we would ask or think of pouring into a cup (Ephesians 3:20).

Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”

The book of Proverbs reveals that when we give, God gives back to us more than we can contain. Our vats will overflow (Proverbs 3:9-10).

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

When the children of Israel possessed the land of Canaan under the conquest of Joshua, the tribe of Judah took too much, so much so that they had to give some of their portions to their brethren, the tribe of Simeon.

Psalms 23:6 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.

Psalms 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Comments - The word “surely” is similar to Jesus saying, “Verily, verily.” John Hagee says that God’s goodness gives us what we do not deserve and God’s mercy saves us from what we do deserve. [38]

[38] John Hagee, John Hagee Today (San Antonio, Texas: John Hagee Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Psalms 23:6 “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” - Comments - Psalms 27:4 reveals the purpose of dwelling in God's house, which is to experience God's presence and to find God's leadership in his life.

Psalms 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple .”

Psalms 23:6 Comments - Psalms 23:6 says that the Lord will be with us both in this life (Psalms 23:6 a) and in eternal life (Psalms 23:6 b).

Scripture References Note:

Proverbs 13:21, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed .”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 23". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/psalms-23.html. 2013.
 
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