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Session 5: Our Shepherd

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Jehovah Rohi - The Lord our Shepherd

Psalm 23 ESV
A Psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Background

“The Lord is My Shepherd”
David likely wrote this Psalm in the latter part of his life, having experienced all of the ups and downs as a king and warrior.

A Shepherd’s Life

In Israel, as in other ancient societies, a shepherd’s work was considered the lowest of all works. If a family needed a shepherd, it was always the youngest son, like David, who got this unpleasant assignment. Shepherds had to live with the sheep twenty-four hours a day, and the task of caring for them was unending. Day and night, summer and winter, in fair weather and foul, they labored to nourish, guide, and protect the sheep.
Yet Jehovah has chosen to be our shepherd, David says. The great God of the universe has stooped to take just such care of you and me.
This is an Old Testament statement, of course. But Christians can hardly forget that the metaphor was also taken up by Jesus and applied to himself, thus identifying himself with Jehovah, on the one hand, and assuming the task of being the shepherd of his people, on the other.
God as our Shepherd: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Genesis 48:15 ESV
15 And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
Isaiah 40:11 ESV
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Jeremiah 31:10 ESV
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
Psalm 80:1 ESV
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Micah 5:4 ESV
4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
Zechariah 9:16 ESV
16 On that day the Lord their God will save them, as the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land.
Luke 15:4–7 ESV
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Mark 6:34 ESV
34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
John 10:1–19 ESV
1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words.
1 Peter 2:25 ESV
25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Revelation 7:17 ESV
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Also, look at . The Good Shepherd separates good and evil from His flock
Matthew 25:31–46 ESV
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Verses

Verse 1

Psalm 23:1 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
“I Shall Not Be in Want”
What does it mean to be counted as one of the Lord’s sheep?
No man has a right to consider himself the Lord's sheep unless his nature has been renewed for the scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them as sheep, but as wolves or goats. A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly David did, that we belong to the Lord. He is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer's position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.
Left to themselves, sheep lack everything. They are the most helpless animals. But if we belong to the one who is self-sufficient, inexhaustible, and utterly unchanged by time, we will lack nothing. He is sufficient for all things and will provide for us. Compare
Left to themselves, sheep lack everything. They are the most helpless animals. But if we belong to the one who is self-sufficient, inexhaustible, and utterly unchanged by time, we will lack nothing. He is sufficient for all things and will provide for us. Compare
Left to themselves, sheep lack everything. They are the most helpless animals. But if we belong to the one who is self-sufficient, inexhaustible, and utterly unchanged by time, we will lack nothing. He is sufficient for all things and will provide for us. Compare
John 15:5 ESV
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
“I Shall Not Want”
How does being focused on the temporal relate to this?
Charles Spurgeon noted: “The wicked always want, but the righteous never; a sinner's heart is far from satisfaction, but a gracious spirit dwells in the palace of content. “

Verse 2

Are you resting in Christ? Look at
We begin by resting in him who has done everything for us. Look at
Matthew 11:28 ESV
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Psalm 23:2 ESV
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
We begin by resting in him who has done everything for us. Look at
Matthew 11:28 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Green Pastures and Still Waters
Sheep are foolish creatures. In fact, they are probably the most stupid animals on earth. One aspect of their stupidity is seen in the fact that they so easily wander away. They can have a good shepherd who can have brought them to the best grazing lands near an abundant supply of water, and they will still wander away to where the fields are barren and the water undrinkable.
What is our Green Pasture that God has given us?
What are these "green pastures" but the Scriptures of truth--always fresh, always rich, and never exhausted? There is no fear of biting the bare ground where the grass is long enough for the flock to lie down in it. Sweet and full are the doctrines of the gospel; fit food for souls, as tender grass is natural nutriment for sheep. When by faith we are enabled to find rest in the promises, we are like the sheep that lie down in the midst of the pasture; we find at the same moment both provender and peace, rest and refreshment, serenity and satisfaction.
What do you make of the phrase “He makes me lie down”?
Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear. It is a reminder that the Christian life also begins with resting in God or Christ. Along the way there will in time be many things for us to do.
There are some distracted souls who would give worlds if they could but do this. They know the blessedness of it, but they cannot say that this blessedness is theirs. They know the "green pastures," but they are not made to "lie down" in them. Those believers who have for years enjoyed a "full assurance of faith" should greatly bless their gracious God.
What do still waters mean to you? Compare ;
Psalm 46:10 ESV
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Isaiah 30:15 ESV
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,
What are these "still waters" but the influences and graces of his blessed Spirit? His Spirit attends us in various operations, like waters--in the plural--to cleanse, to refresh, to fertilise, to cherish. They are "still waters," for the Holy Ghost loves peace, and sounds no trumpet of ostentation in his operations. He may flow into our soul, but not into our neighbour's, and therefore our neighbour may not perceive the divine presence; and though the blessed Spirit may be pouring his floods into one heart, yet he that sitteth next to the favoured one may know nothing of it.
That silence is golden indeed in which the Holy Spirit meets with the souls of his saints. Our Lord leads us beside these "still waters;" we could not go there of ourselves, we need his guidance, therefore it is said, "he leadeth me." He does not drive us. Moses drives us by the law, but Jesus leads us by his example, and the gentle drawing of his love.

Verse 3

"In sacred silence of the mind
My heaven, and there my God I find."
Psalm 23:3 ESV
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Still waters run deep. Nothing more noisy than an empty drum. That silence is golden indeed in which the Holy Spirit meets with the souls of his saints. Not to raging waves of strife, but to peaceful streams of holy love does the Spirit of God conduct the chosen sheep. He is a dove, not an eagle; the dew, not the hurricane. Our Lord leads us beside these "still waters;" we could not go there of ourselves, we need his guidance, therefore it is said, "he leadeth me." He does not drive us. Moses drives us by the law, but Jesus leads us by his example, and the gentle drawing of his love.
How does the example of Peter fit into this? Look at
I Shall Not Lack Life
John 21:15–17 ESV
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
This is because “he restores my soul” (v. 3). In Hebrew idiom the words “restores my soul” can mean “brings me to repentance” (or conversion). But since the word translated “soul” is actually “life,” and since the metaphor here is that of shepherding, the words probably mean “the Lord restores me to physical health (or salvation).”
In Hebrew idiom the words “restores my soul” can mean “brings me to repentance” (or conversion). But since the word translated “soul” is actually “life,” and since the metaphor here is that of shepherding, the words probably mean “the Lord restores me to physical health (or salvation).”
Sometimes we are like cast sheep. We are spiritually on our backs, quite helpless. But Jesus comes to us when we are in this condition, as he did to Peter after Peter had denied him even with oaths and cursing (), and he restores us. Jesus restored Peter. He gets us up on our feet and going again.
Matthew 26:72–74 ESV
72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed.
Discussion: Has there been a time in your life where you felt God restore your faith?
When the soul grows sorrowful he revives it; when it is sinful he sanctifies it; when it is weak he strengthens it. "He" does it. His ministers could not do it if he did not. His Word would not avail by itself. "He restoreth my soul." Are any of us low in grace? Do we feel that our spirituality is at its lowest ebb? He who turns the ebb into the flood can soon restore our soul. Pray to him, then, for the blessing--"Restore thou me, thou Shepherd of my soul!"
Observe, that the plural is used--"the paths of righteousness." Look at and tie this to the concept of sanctification
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Whatever God may give us to do we would do it, led by his love. Some Christians overlook the blessing of sanctification, and yet to a thoroughly renewed heart this is one of the sweetest gifts of the covenant. If we could be saved from wrath, and yet remain unregenerate, impenitent sinners, we should not be saved as we desire, for we mainly and chiefly pant to be saved from sin and led in the way of holiness. All this is done out of pure free grace; "for his name's sake." It is to the honour of our great Shepherd that we should be a holy people, walking in the narrow way of righteousness. If we be so led and guided we must not fail to adore our heavenly Shepherd's care.

Verse 4

I Shall Not Lack Guidance
Psalm 23:4 ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Compare with
Observe that it is not walking in the valley, but through the valley. We go through the dark tunnel of death and emerge into the light of immortality. We do not die, we do but sleep to wake in glory. Death is not the house but the porch, not the goal but the passage to it.
About the Rod
The Hebrew word for rod, Sebet, harkens back to a stick that would be used by a shepherd in defense of predators, for discipline, and for counting. A staff, or Misenet, was a longer tool used for rounding up sheep and guiding them, often keeping them from dangerous situations. When we look at these two instruments together, we can get a sense of how a shepherd provided for his flock and helped them stay safe in their daily journey.
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
I Shall Not Lack Safety
The Hebrew word for rod, Sebet, harkens back to a stick that would be used by a shepherd in defense of predators, for discipline, and for counting. A staff, or Misenet, was a longer tool used for rounding up sheep and guiding them, often keeping them from dangerous situations. When we look at these two instruments together, we can get a sense of how a shepherd provided for his flock and helped them stay safe in their daily journey.
It’s easy to see, then, how David sees comfort in this. We don’t know exactly when David wrote this particular Psalm, but it was likely at a period in his adult life where he could have much to reflect upon as well as a realization that life would not go on much longer.
The comfort David described is readily available for us as well in the Psalm. Yes, it is quite often used when a person is facing the end of their life to bring them comfort as well as family and friends who surround this person. But it need not be simply for those times in our lives that we can glean some relevance.
When He uses His rod of correction on us, we should always see this as correction from a loving Father who only wants what is best for us.
How do you respond when you feel God correcting you? Or have you ever experienced it?
Therefore, we should appreciate the times of correction (; ; ), for if we had an earthly father who did not bother to discipline us, would we not believe he simply did not care about us? Yes, we may enjoy the temporary freedom, but as children we need the discipline to keep us from wandering too far. Such is with our Creator.
Be happy that you are among the chosen flock that you recognize His chastisement, for many are spiritually blind to understand such discipline.
Only a loving God would bother correcting you when you stray. It is in this frame of mind that David certainly understood the comfort of chastisement from his Lord.
Proverbs 3:11–12 ESV
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 13:24 ESV
24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Hebrews 12:6 ESV
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
The Staff
And what of the staff? We see the rod providing us necessary correction and discipline, but what comfort do we receive from His staff?
We know the Good Shepherd is with us always and as His sheep, we wander and stray and get into all kinds of trouble along the way. But He is forever faithful to bring us back into His fold.
We too can find comfort in the staff of Christ for it is in Him we have our guidance in life. When we stray, when we experience doubt, or when we need the gentle guidance of our Shepherd because we are in a precarious situation, we only need to open His Word and pray to Him to feel his staff directing our path back to the one He wishes us to be on.
We can take comfort in the numerous verses of Scripture that promise His presence in our lives, in both mountain tops and in the valleys like what is described in this Psalm.
For we know God will never forsake us or abandon us; but He will allow us to stray if we so choose. We should appreciate the correction of our Father as a symbol for the immeasurable love He has for each and every one of us.
Take comfort today for being a sheep subject to the rod and staff of our Good Shepherd.

Verse 5

Psalm 23:5 ESV
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
A good shepherd will prepare before the sheep arrive, removing physical hazards, destroying poisonous plants, and driving predators away. Ancient shepherds used a mixture of olive oil, sulfur, and spices to protect their sheep from insects and promote the healing of infectious skin diseases.
The twenty-third psalm also mentions the shepherd’s provision for the physical needs of the flock, saying, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (v. 5).
A good shepherd will prepare these before the sheep arrive, removing physical hazards, destroying poisonous plants, and driving predators away. Ancient shepherds used a mixture of olive oil, sulfur, and spices to protect their sheep from insects and promote the healing of infectious skin diseases.
Compare . what’s the connection?
James 4:4 ESV
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Romans 5:10 ESV
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Moreover, oil and wine were highly valued in the dry, barren lands of the Near East. When a guest arrived at the home of a friend, hospitality demanded the provision of oil and wine so the ravages of travel might be overcome.
Romans 8:6 ESV
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
"Thou preparest a table," just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is at the door, and yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances!
What was the purpose of anointing head with oil? What did that signify? How is that valid for us?
1 Peter 2:5–9 ESV
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Verse 5. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." The good man has his enemies. He would not be like his Lord if he had not. If we were without enemies we might fear that we were not the friends of God, for the friendship of the world is enmity to God. Yet see the quietude of the godly man in spite of, and in the sight of, his enemies. How refreshing is his calm bravery! "Thou preparest a table before me." When a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight. But observe: "Thou preparest a table," just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is at the door, and yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances!

Verse 6

Verse 5. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." The good man has his enemies. He would not be like his Lord if he had not. If we were without enemies we might fear that we were not the friends of God, for the friendship of the world is enmity to God. Yet see the quietude of the godly man in spite of, and in the sight of, his enemies. How refreshing is his calm bravery! "Thou preparest a table before me." When a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight. But observe: "Thou preparest a table," just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is at the door, and yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances!
Every Christian is a priest, but he cannot execute the priestly office without unction, and hence we must go day by day to God the Holy Ghost, that we may have our heads anointed with oil. A priest without oil misses the chief qualification for his office, and the Christian priest lacks his chief fitness for service when he is devoid of new grace from on high. "My cup runneth over." He had not only enough, a cup full, but more than enough, a cup which overflowed. A poor man may say this as well as those in higher circumstances. "What, all this, and Jesus Christ too?" said a poor cottager as she broke a piece of bread and filled a glass with cold water. Whereas a man may be ever so wealthy, but if he be discontented his cup cannot run over; it is cracked and leaks. Content is the philosopher's stone which turns all it touches into gold; happy is he who has found it. Content is more than a kingdom, it is another word for happiness.
Psalm 23:6 ESV
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
"Thou anointest my head with oil." May we live in the daily enjoyment of this blessing, receiving a fresh anointing for every day's duties. Every Christian is a priest, but he cannot execute the priestly office without unction, and hence we must go day by day to God the Holy Ghost, that we may have our heads anointed with oil. A priest without oil misses the chief qualification for his office, and the Christian priest lacks his chief fitness for service when he is devoid of new grace from on high. "My cup runneth over." He had not only enough, a cup full, but more than enough, a cup which overflowed. A poor man may say this as well as those in higher circumstances. "What, all this, and Jesus Christ too?" said a poor cottager as she broke a piece of bread and filled a glass with cold water. Whereas a man may be ever so wealthy, but if he be discontented his cup cannot run over; it is cracked and leaks. Content is the philosopher's stone which turns all it touches into gold; happy is he who has found it. Content is more than a kingdom, it is another word for happiness.

Verse 6

Notice it is ALL the days of my life - in sin and in righteousness, ups and downs
I Shall Not Lack a Heavenly Home. Compare to
The twenty-third psalm portrays life as a pilgrimage, and in the final verse the psalmist rightly comes to life’s goal, which is God’s house. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
John 14:1–3 ESV
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The twenty-third psalm portrays life as a pilgrimage, and in the final verse the psalmist rightly comes to life’s goal, which is God’s house. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The closing verse has two interesting words in translation. Commentators frequently suggest the meaning here has to do with spending eternity in heaven. However, this idea does not originate in this text. Rather than to dwell (Hb. yashav), the Hebrew should be translated “return” (shuv), so this is likely an expectation of return to the house of the Lord, the usual name for the sanctuary (tabernacle or temple; e.g., ; ; ; ; ), for a lifetime (forever, lit., “for length of days”) of worship and fellowship with God. This anticipates the time when the Anointed One will return to the temple in Jerusalem, a common messianic theme (cf. Zch 9:9).
23:6. David’s confidence in this future inheritance, guaranteed by God’s unshakable goodness and lovingkindness (cf. 5:7 comments), brings him comfort in this life, regardless of the situation. The fatherly aspect of the relationship between the divine Shepherd and His sheep is underscored by the verb follow (sometimes translated “pursue,” elsewhere used to describe the active pursuit of one army by another; e.g., ). Under God’s care, His followers will be constantly pursued or faithfully followed after by His goodness and lovingkindness.
The closing verse has two interesting words in translation. Commentators frequently suggest the meaning here has to do with spending eternity in heaven. However, this idea does not originate in this text. Rather than to dwell (Hb. yashav), the Hebrew should be translated “return” (shuv), so this is likely an expectation of return to the house of the Lord, the usual name for the sanctuary (tabernacle or temple; e.g., ; ; ; ; ), for a lifetime (forever, lit., “for length of days”) of worship and fellowship with God. This anticipates the time when the Anointed One will return to the temple in Jerusalem, a common messianic theme (cf. Zch 9:9).
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