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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 23

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-6

Psalms 23:1-6.

V. 1- 3. The preceding psalm represented " the good Shepherd laying down his life for the " sheep," and assuming his pastoral charge : this describes their safety and felicity under his tender caie. (Notes, John 10:1-18; John 10:26-31.) For as Christ is " the good," " the " great," " the chief Shepherd ; " we cannot doubt that he is JEHOVAH, and is especially intended.

Notes, Psalms 80:1. Is. Psalms 40:9-11. Zechariah 13:7. Acts 20:28. Hebrews 13:20-21. 1 Peter 5:1-4..)

A flock of sheep, gentle, harmless, and valuable, feeding in verdant pastures, or reclining, cheerful and satisfied, by gentle rivulets, under the care of a skilful, vigilant, and tender shepherd, forms the emblem of believers, brought back to the Shepherd of their souls, and by him guarded and provided for.

(Notes, Luke 12:32. 1 Peter 2:18-25.) He is JEHOVAH, the omnipresent, omniscient, almighty God, One with the Father, and every way able and willing to take care of them. His ordinances are their plenteous pastures, the consolations of his Holy Spirit are their refreshing waters. They are thus guided by their Shepherd into communion with God, and find rest to their souls. If they wander, he restores them by his kind rebukes, and his effectual grace : when their souls are diseased, he, as their Physician, recovers their health and vigour ; and for the honour of his gospel, and the glory

of his own name, he leads them in the paths of righteousness. (Note, Proverbs 8:20.)

V. 4. Between that part of the flock which is on earth, and that which is gone to heaven, death lies, like a deep valley, that must be passed in going from the one to the other. But this valley cannot hurt believers, and should not alarm them. It is indeed deep and dark, but fruitful. The good Shepherd will accompany his sheep through it, by his gracious presence : his rod, the token of his power, (Note, Exodus 2:1-25,) will defend them from the assaults of their enemies; his pastoral staff, his word of promise, and Spirit of grace, will support them with inward strength ; and thus he will render death safe and comfortable to them.

(Notes, John 14:2-3. Acts 7:54-60.) Thou art with me.] Notes, Is. 41: 10- 14. 43: 1, 2. Matthew 1:22-23; Matthew 28:19-20.

V. 5, 6. The people of God feast at his table on .the provisions, of his love ; (Note, Psalms 22:26 ;) nor can Satan and wicked men, who hate and envy them, destroy their comforts, while they are anointed with the unction of the Holy Spirit, and drink of the cup of salvation, ever full and running over. Past experience teaches them to trust, " that the goodness and mercy of God will follow them " all the days of their life." It is their desire, expectation, and determination, to seek their happiness in the service of God here; and they hope to enjoy his love, without enemy or interruption, for length of days, even for ever in heaven hereafter. The images in these verses are taken from feasts, and the general customs of anointing the guests, and distinguishing such as were most favoured by the largest portions. (Genesis 43:34.) Under these images both temporal provisions and spiritual comforts seem to be included.


Experimental piety is the source of the purest comforts, and the most unshaken confidence ; and cheerfulness greatly adorns and recommends it. What can they want, who have JEHOVAH for their Shepherd ? What will that Saviour withhold from his friends, who shed his blood for them when enemies, that he might reconcile them to himself ? Will not he, who ransomed our souls, provide for our bodies ? Alas, our discontent and disconsolation spring from unbelief; and from a negligent or inconsistent conduct, which darkens our prospects and weakens our evidence. Let us then " give diligence to make our calling " and election sure : " let us simply trust our Shepherd’s care, and listen to his voice : let us cultivate the gentle and amiable dispositions which these emblems suggest : let us keep close to his ordinances as the pasture of our souls ; and draw the waters of life " with joy from the wells of " salvation," seeking no other consolations : and let us earnestly plead with him " to lead us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake," to keep us from wandering, and to " restore our souls " from every deviation, by whatever means he may see good ; for peace and happiness can be found in no other way. Thus, walking with God and trusting in him, we may think of death, as our appointed passage to eternal life, without fearing any evil : the outward protection and inward supports of our gracious Friend will prevent all harm, and he will receive our souls to the mansion which he has prepared for them. While he pleases that we should continue here, he can make any situation pleasant, by the unction of his Spirit, and the joys of his salvation, in defiance of all our enemies : and the lively Christian will thankfully acknowledge the Lord’s exuberant kindness, and declare his satisfaction in his care and love. Let us then thank him for the past and present, and trust him for the future : let us keep close to his service now ; and simply repose our confidence in him, that his goodness will supply our every want, his mercy pardon all our sins, and relieve all our sorrows : that these shall follow us all the days of our life ; and that we shall " dwell " in the house of the LORD for ever j " in his presence, where " is fulness of joy, and at his right hand, where " are pleasures for evermore."

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 23". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-23.html. 1804.
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