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Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Psalms 23

Verses 1-6

PSALM 23

Christ, as Shepherd, the confidence of the godly while passing through this world.

The 22nd psalm presents Christ on the cross meeting the claims of God, and making atonement for His people. Psalm 23 presents Christ meeting the daily needs of His people, and leading them through a wilderness scene. The primary application is to the godly remnant of Israel who will be brought through every trial into millennial blessing in connection with Jehovah's house on earth. The ways of God with Israel, and the blessing into which they are brought, are, however, typical of the higher blessings that belong through grace to the Christian. Hence the psalm is full of instruction and comfort for our days. The great theme of the psalm is the confidence of the godly in Christ, the Shepherd, founded on the experience of what He is in all circumstances.

(v. 1) The psalm opens with the assurance of the godly that the Lord is his Shepherd. All that follows in the psalm flows from this assurance. The One who died for the believer is known as the One who lives, and cares for the believer. In this confidence the wilderness journey is faced and the varied needs are met.

First, there are “wants” connected with this scene, but, confiding in the Lord, the believer says, “I shall not want.”

(v. 2) Secondly, there are not only daily wants in connection with this life, but also spiritual needs in connection with the divine life. These spiritual needs the Shepherd delights to meet. He satisfies the soul in green pastures, and leads beside the still waters.

(v. 3) Thirdly, there may, alas, be failure, and, if not actual sin, dullness of soul as the result of contact with things here. Nevertheless the Shepherd restores the soul, and leads in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.

(v. 4) Fourthly, death may have to be faced. The soul may have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. Even so the Shepherd is there to direct with His rod, and support with His staff.

(v. 5) Fifthly, there are enemies that oppose. The Lord is greater than all our enemies, and can support us in their very presence; anoint us with blessings, and make our cup run over.

(v. 6) Sixthly, there is the future path, that may cause apprehension. The experience of what the Shepherd has been in the past gives unquestioning confidence as to the future. “Surely,” says the psalmist, “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Seventhly, there is eternity before us. But this has no dread for the one who can say “The Lord is my shepherd,” for with the utmost confidence the soul can say, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 23". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-23.html. 1832.