Psalm 23: Confident in God
Psalm 23 is a psalm of confidence in Yahweh. It shows an intimate relationship between the psalmist and Yahweh. As a hymn of trust, it expresses the psalmist’s confidence in Yahweh’s guidance, using images of a shepherd (vv. 1–4) and host (vv. 5–6) to portray God’s care of him.
I feel almost pretentious to comment on this psalm. This Psalm has a grip on biblical spirituality and it is deep and genuine. This Psalm is everywhere and known by seemingly everyone. Though I know that is a lie.
It is such a simple statement that it can bear its own witness without comment.
A psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, 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 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.
3:1 Yahweh is my shepherd The psalmist portrays Yahweh as a shepherd, a common depiction throughout the OT. The metaphor emphasizes His care for and protection of His people (28:9; Isa 40:11). He is also called the shepherd of Israel (Ps 80:1). Several times, the title is specifically applied to His care of Israel in the wilderness (77:20; 78:52–53).
Yahweh will take care of us as sheep. I will not lack for anything or I have all I need. This can be a challenging passages because you may have been in a time when you didn’t have anything. How can you have all you need. But to understand this wee must look at the verse 3.
For the sake of his name Yahweh’s protection and care of the psalmist is not only for the psalmist’s sake, but for the sake of Yahweh’s name (or reputation).
We have all we need to bring honor to his name. That doesn’t mean you will always have what you want.
He will lead you to the place of rest. Doesn’t say you will always be there but you will be lead there. The Hebrew word used here, menuchah, emphasizes rest and security. Yahweh provides for all the psalmist’s needs (Isa 32:20).
10 May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
23:3 correct paths Describing a path of life (Prov 12:28). To be led on these paths is to enjoy Yahweh’s protection (Psa 1:6). This is literally the path of Righteousness. Lead you down this path of righteous living for his sake. Not yours.
He rest His sheep
He directs his Sheep
The psalmist acknowledges that life will not always be characterized by green pastures and quiet waters (v. 2). He will walk through darkness or gloom (107:10; Job 10:22).
Evil The Hebrew word used here, ra'ah, can refer to harm or trouble (Job 2:10). Even in difficult times, the psalmist will not fear any harm.
You are with me The psalmist does not fear because of Yahweh’s presence, which protects him from harm (Psa 138:7; Isa 43:2).
Tools used by shepherds to guide sheep.
The “rod” beats off the external enemy, while the crooked “staff” snatches us from harm’s way.
Having sheep pass under a rod was a way of counting them (Lev 27:32). Here, the rod symbolizes Yahweh’s protection and care. Elsewhere, it serves as a symbol of divine discipline (Ps 89:32; 2 Sam 7:14).
In verse 5 the author switches from portraying Yah as a shepherd to portraying him as a host.
Hospitality in the ancient Near East required more than providing a meal. The host was also responsible for protecting his guest. Since the psalmist, as a guest, enjoys Yahweh’s protection, he can eat safely in the presence of his enemies.
A host customarily anointed his guests’ heads with oil as they entered to eat (Psa 45:7; Luke 7:46).
my cup is overflowing Emphasizing Yahweh’s generosity; He provides more than the psalmist needs.
23:6 Surely goodness and loyal love With Yahweh as his shepherd and host, the psalmist is confident that he will be protected by Yahweh’s unfailing covenantal love (Exod 34:6).
and he will be Yahweh’s guest, under his care and protection, his hospitality, all of his life
29 But I tell you, from now on I will never drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.”
Jesus promises to eat and drink with His disciples in the kingdom of God (Matt. 26:29). The Table is often seen as a sign of Jesus salvation.
Chesed can sometimes refer to kindness or mercy. It can also refer to faithfulness or loyalty. Most often it is translated as “steadfast love.”
When He appears to Moses, God describes Himself as abounding in chesed and keeping chesed for thousands (Exod 34:6–7).
His chesed is associated with His covenant love for Israel.
In the Ten Commandments, God describes Himself as showing chesed to those who love and obey Him (Exod 20:6; Deut 5:10).
God’s chesed is often described in terms of His mercy or compassion.
In appealing to God to pardon the sins of the people, Moses appeals to God’s chesed (Num 14:18–19).
When the Israelites confess their sins in Nehemiah, they also note that God did not forsake the rebellious wilderness generation because He abounds in chesed (Neh 9:17).
Ezra shows that God did not forsake the exiles, but instead extended His chesed to them (Ezra 9:9).
Chesed is also a characteristic God desires in His people—something He desires over sacrifice (Hos 6:6).
Zechariah instructs the people to show chesed to one another (Zech 7:9).
Micah explains that God requires justice, chesed, and humility (Mic 6:8).
The psalmist shows that God takes pleasure in those who trust in His chesed (Psa 147:11).
Proverbs often encourages chesed along with wisdom (Prov 3:1–4).
A person with chesed benefits from it (Prov 11:17), and those who pursue chesed will find life, righteousness, and honor (Prov 21:21).
The ideal woman of Proverbs 31 speaks with wisdom and teaches with chesed (Prov 31:26).
Confidence in God
Confidence in God
Confidence in God is the source of new orientation.
As we focus on Yahweh he calls us to shift our basic dependency from people to Himself. Psalm 23 is an exposition of our proper dependency upon the living Lord who wants to care for us in the way a shepherd cares for his sheep. That is why it is one of the best loved psalms in times of trouble because it shows the hope of confidence in God.
The images are serene, pastoral, and timeless. The psalm evokes a mood of meditative security. It ends with a ringing triumph: I will dwell in the house of the Lord / Forever.”
Do you have confidences with YHWH?
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