Psalm 23

Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150

Ps 23:1

מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִ֑ד יְהוָ֥ה רֹ֝עִ֗י לֹ֣א אֶחְסָֽר׃

A Mizmore to David.  YHWH is my Shepherd; I shall not lack.

Paraphrase:  This song was written by David.  YHWH is my Shepherd; I will not be lacking anything that I need.


“The Psalms of the OT remarkably enough have no single, well recognized, universally accepted name by which they are designated in the Hebrew Scriptures.” source  For the title Mizmore used in this Psalm, see here.

For לְדָוִד see the the lamed auctoris.

Hengstenberg quotes Luther:

Those who, on reading the words, the Lord is my Shepherd, I am in want of nothing, are inclined to say, “How shall I know that the Lord is my Shepherd? I do not find that He acts so friendly a part to me as corresponds to what the Psalmist says; nay, I have ample experience to the very contrary;” are directed by Luther in the following words into the right way: “The prophet has not at all times been so happy; he has not been able at all times to sing as he does here. He has at times been in want of much, yea, almost of everything. He has felt that he possessed neither the righteousness, nor the consolation, nor the help of God; but only sin, the wrath of God, terror and dismay, as he complains in many of his Psalms. Still, as often as he turns him from his own feelings, and lays hold of God by His promises, and thinks, ‘It may be with me as it may, yet this is the comfort of my heart, that I have a gracious, a compassionate Lord for my Shepherd, whose word and whose promises strengthen and comfort me; therefore I shall be in want of nothing.’ And he has written this and other Psalms for the very purpose of assuring us, that in real temptation there is no council, help, or comfort to be found, unless we have learned the golden art of holding firm by the word and promises of God, and deciding by them, in opposition to the feelings of our own hearts. Thus assuredly shall help and comfort follow, and we shall be in want of nothing.”  source


Ps 23:2

בִּנְא֣וֹת דֶּ֭שֶׁא יַרְבִּיצֵ֑נִי עַל־מֵ֖י מְנֻח֣וֹת יְנַהֲלֵֽנִי׃

In green meadows, He causes me to lie down; beside waters of quiet, He leads me.

Paraphrase:  YHWH brings me to beautiful meadows where there is an abundance of tender grass and flourishing plants for me to eat and where I can lay down without any fear of predators and enemies.  He takes me to clear, fresh, quiet streams where I can drink and be satisfied.



Ps 23:3

נַפְשִׁ֥י יְשׁוֹבֵ֑ב יַֽנְחֵ֥נִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי־צֶ֝֗דֶק לְמַ֣עַן שְׁמֽוֹ׃

My soul, He restores, He leads me in tracks of righteousness for His Name.

Paraphrase:  When I wander off the rails, YHWH finds me and puts me back on track again.  He does this so that the whole earth will see His glory.  


יְשׁוֹבֵב is a polel form.  “Biconsonantal verbs occur infrequently in the Piel, Pual, and Hithpael stems. Instead, they occur in the Polel, Polal, and Hithpolel stems.  Geminate roots may also appear in these stems.  In general, the meaning of the Piel corresponds to the meaning of the Polel, the Pual to the Polal, and the Hithpael to the Hithpolel.  With Biconsonantal verbs, these stems are characterized by a holem-vav after the first consonant and the duplication of the second root consonant.” BBH 27.15.


Ps 23:4

גַּ֤ם כִּֽי־אֵלֵ֨ךְ בְּגֵ֪יא צַלְמָ֡וֶת לֹא־אִ֘ירָ֤א רָ֗ע כִּי־אַתָּ֥ה עִמָּדִ֑י שִׁבְטְךָ֥ וּ֝מִשְׁעַנְתֶּ֗ךָ הֵ֣מָּה יְנַֽחֲמֻֽנִי׃

Also because I walk through the gorge of death-darkness, I will not fear evil because You are with me, Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Paraphrase:  Sometimes, I have to walk through a deep valley.  It’s so dark that I hardly can see my way forward. Yet even in this valley, I am still not afraid of any danger.  How can I be afraid (Psalm 27:1) when YHWH, the Great King, is right there next to me?  In His hand, I can see the rod that He uses to steer me around every danger (Micah 7:14) and His staff which He also uses to guide and defend us.  I know that no predator or enemy could possibly overwhelm Him and cause Him to leave me to myself.


גַּם כִּי is used to introduce a concessive clause; Gesenius 160 §b.


Ps 23:5

תַּעֲרֹ֬ךְ לְפָנַ֨י׀ שֻׁלְחָ֗ן נֶ֥גֶד צֹרְרָ֑י דִּשַּׁ֖נְתָּ בַשֶּׁ֥מֶן רֹ֝אשִׁ֗י כּוֹסִ֥י רְוָיָֽה׃

You set before me a table in the presence of those who are hostile against me.  You anoint with oil my head; my cup is full.

Paraphrase:  Sometimes my enemies are so strong and threatening that it seems I have no chance of surviving.  Then I turn to look at my Great King again.  This time, I see Him setting up a table and arranging all the dishes, cups, utensils on it.  He prepares this banquet right in the face of all my enemies.  All they can do is stand by helplessly and watch.  All their hate and violence has to stand down; they have no place at this table.  Before we take our seats, YHWH anoints my head with luxurious oils and the fragrance of these fills the air.  When we sit down to eat, He fills my cup full and loads my plate with every kind of choice food.



Ps 23:6

אַ֤ךְ׀ ט֤וֹב וָחֶ֣סֶד יִ֭רְדְּפוּנִי כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיָּ֑י וְשַׁבְתִּ֥י בְּבֵית־יְ֝הוָ֗ה לְאֹ֣רֶךְ יָמִֽים׃

Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of YHWH for the length of days.

Paraphrase:  Now in all the ups and downs of life, of this I am sure.  YHWH will work everything out for my good (Romans 8:28) and His faithfulness will never fail to provide for me all that He has promised.  Every day of my life, the good days, the bad days and every day in between, I am confident that I am living in His home and under His protective care and kind provision.



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