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Bible Commentaries

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 23

Introduction



Many of David's psalms are full of complaints, but this is full of comforts, and the expressions of delight in God's great goodness and dependence upon him. It is a psalm which has been sung by good Christians, and will be while the world stands, with a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. I. The psalmist here claims relation to God, as his shepherd, Psalms 23:1. II. He recounts his experience of the kind things God had done for him as his shepherd, Psalms 23:2; Psalms 23:3; Psalms 23:5. III. Hence he infers that he should want no good (Psalms 23:1), that he needed to fear no evil (Psalms 23:4), that God would never leave nor forsake him in a way of mercy; and therefore he resolves never to leave nor forsake God in a way of duty, Psalms 23:6. In this he had certainly an eye, not only to the blessings of God's providence, which made his outward condition prosperous, but to the communications of God's grace, received by a lively faith, and returned in a warm devotion, which filled his soul with joy unspeakable. And, as in the foregoing psalm he represented Christ dying for his sheep, so here he represents Christians receiving the benefit of all the care and tenderness of that great and good shepherd.

Verses 1-6

The Divine Shepherd.

III. From the good gifts of God's bounty to him now he infers the constancy and perpetuity of his mercy, Psalms 23:5; Psalms 23:6. Here we may observe,

1. How highly he magnifies God's gracious vouchsafements to him (Psalms 23:5; Psalms 23:5): "Thou preparest a table before me; thou hast provided for me all things pertaining both to life and godliness, all things requisite both for body and soul, for time and eternity:" such a bountiful benefactor is God to all his people; and it becomes them abundantly to utter his great goodness, as David here, who acknowledges, (1.) That he had food convenient, a table spread, a cup filled, meat for his hunger, drink for his thirst. (2.) That he had it carefully and readily provided for him. His table was not spread with any thing that came next to hand, but prepared, and prepared before him. (3.) That he was not stinted, was not straitened, but had abundance: "My cup runs over, enough for myself and my friends too." (4.) That he had not only for necessity, but for ornament and delight: Thou anointest my head with oil. Samuel anointed him king, which was a certain pledge of further favor; but this is rather an instance of the plenty with which God had blessed him, or an allusion to the extraordinary entertainment of special friends, whose heads they anointed with oil, Luke 7:46. Nay, some think he still looks upon himself as a sheep, but such a one as the poor man's ewe-lamb (2 Samuel 12:3), that did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom; not only thus nobly, but thus tenderly, are the children of God looked after. Plentiful provision is made for their bodies, for their souls, for the life that now is and for that which is to come. If Providence do not bestow upon us thus plentifully for our natural life, it is our own fault if it be not made up to us in spiritual blessings.

2. How confidently he counts upon the continuance of God's favours, Psalms 23:6; Psalms 23:6. He had said (Psalms 23:1; Psalms 23:1), I shall not want; but now he speaks more positively, more comprehensively: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. His hope rises, and his faith is strengthened, by being exercised. Observe, (1.) What he promises himself--goodness and mercy, all the streams of mercy flowing from the fountain, pardoning mercy, protecting mercy, sustaining mercy, supplying mercy. (2.) The manner of the conveyance of it: It shall follow me, as the water out of the rock followed the camp of Israel through the wilderness; it shall follow into all places and all conditions, shall be always ready. (3.) The continuance of it: It shall follow me all my life long, even to the last; for whom God loves he loves to the end. (4.) The constancy of it: All the days of my life, as duly as the day comes; it shall be new every morning (Lamentations 3:22; Lamentations 3:23) like the manna that was given to the Israelites daily. (5.) The certainty of it: Surely it shall. It is as sure as the promise of the God of truth can make it; and we know whom we have believed. (6.) Here is a prospect of the perfection of bliss in the future state. So some take the latter clause: "Goodness and mercy having followed me all the days of my life on this earth, when that is ended I shall remove to a better world, to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, in our Father's house above, where there are many mansions. With what I have I am pleased much; with what I hope for I am pleased more." All this, and heaven too! Then we serve a good Master.

3. How resolutely he determines to cleave to God and to his duty. We read the last clause as David's covenant with God: "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (as long as I live), and I will praise him while I have any being." We must dwell in his house as servants, that desired to have their ears bored to the door-post, to serve him for ever. If God's goodness to us be like the morning light, which shines more and more to the perfect day, let not ours to him be like the morning cloud and the early dew that passeth away. Those that would be satisfied with the fatness of God's house must keep close to the duties of it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 23". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mhm/psalms-23.html. 1706.