Psalm 23
Matthew Poole's Commentary
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The matter of this Psalm gives us some general discovery of the time of its writing; which was when David was delivered out of his distresses, and quietly settled in his kingdom.

A Psalm of David.

David deseribeth his own happiness, Psalm 23:1, both in temporal, Psalm 23:2, and in spiritual things, Psalm 23:3-5. His confidence in God’s mercy, and vows to dwell in his house for ever, Psalm 23:6.

He hath showed himself to be so by his gracious providences towards me and for me; and he hath taken upon him that office and relation to me by his entering into covenant with me, whereby he hath engaged himself to rule, and feed, and preserve, and heal me, and do all which shepherds do, or are obliged to do, to their flocks; which David very well understood, and had doubtless carefully performed his duty to his sheep; and therefore he strengthens his faith by this consideration, that God was his Shepherd; and as God was a much better Shepherd than he or any man could he, so he might confidently expect more than ordinary benefits from his conduct. I shall not want, to wit, any thing which is really necessary for me, either for this life or for the next. But foolish man may think many things to be necessary for him, which the all-wise God knoweth to be not only unnecessary, but hurtful, and therefore mercifully denies what men ignorantly desire to their hurt.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
To lie down; to rest and repose myself at noon, as the manner was in those hot countries. See Song of Solomon 1:7 Isaiah 13:20 Ezekiel 34:15.

In green pastures; where there is both delight and plenty of provisions.

He leadeth me, lest I should wander and perish. Heb. he leadeth me sweetly and gently, accommodating himself to mine infirmities, as shepherds do to their sheep, Genesis 33:13 Isaiah 40:11 49:10.

Beside; or, to; the particle al being oft put for el, as Genesis 1:30 16:7.

The still waters; quiet and gentle waters, either put into watering-troughs, or running in small and shallow channels; which are opposed to great rivers, which both affright the sheep with their noise, and expose them to the danger of being carried away by their swift and violent streams whilst they are drinking at them.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
He restoreth, Heb. he bringeth it back; either,

1. From its errors or wandering; or,

2. Into the body, out of which it was even departing and fainting away. He reviveth or comforteth me. Compare Ruth 4:15 1 Samuel 30:12 Lamentations 1:11.

In the paths of righteousness; in straight, and plain, and safe paths, where the sheep is neither hurt, nor wearied, nor in danger of wandering. By his word he directs me to the right ways of truth, and holiness, and righteousness, and by his Spirit he inclines and enables me to choose them, and to continue to walk in them.

For his name’s sake; not for any worth in me, but merely for the demonstration and glory of his justice, and faithfulness, and goodness.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Through the valley of the shadow of death; through a dark and dismal valley, full of terrors and dangers, as this phrase signifies, Job 24:17 Psalm 44:19 107:10,14 Jer 2:6.

I will fear no evil; I will not give way to my fears, but confidently rely upon God.

Thy rod and thy staff; two words noting the same thing, and both designing God’s pastoral care over him, expressed by the sign and instrument of it.

They comfort me; the consideration thereof supports me under all my fears and distresses.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Thou furnishest me with plenty and variety of provisions and comforts,

mine enemies seeing, and envying, and fretting at it, but not being able to hinder it.

With oil; or, ointment, as the Syriac and Arabic interpreters render it; with aromatical ointments, which were then used at great feasts, Psalm 92:10 Amos 6:6 Matthew 6:17 Luke 7:38. The sense is, Thy comforts delight my soul: compare Psalm 45:7.

My cup runneth over; thou hast given me a very plentiful portion, signified by the cup given to the guests by the master of the feast.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Goodness and mercy, i.e. God’s favour, and the blessed and comfortable effects and benefits of it.

Shall follow me; by which emphatical expression he signifies God’s admirable freeness and readiness to do good to his people, and his preventing them with blessings.

All the days of my life; which he justly concludes from the former instances of God’s favour to him because of the unchangeableness of God’s nature, and the stability of his covenant and promises. Whereas I have formerly been driven from God’s house, I rest assured that I shall now constantly enjoy that blessed privilege of serving and enjoying God in his sanctuary, which I prize more than all my dominions

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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