Under a metaphor borrowed from scenes of pastoral life, with which
David was familiar, he describes God's providential care in providing
refreshment, guidance, protection, and abundance, and so affording
grounds of confidence in His perpetual favor.
1. Christ's relation to His people is often
represented by the figure of a shepherd (Joh 10:14; Heb
13:20; 1Pe 2:25; 5:4), and
therefore the opinion that He is the Lord here so described, and
in Ge 48:15; Ps 80:1; Isa 40:11, is not without some good reason.
2. green pastures—or, "pastures of
tender grass," are mentioned, not in respect to food, but as places of
cool and refreshing rest.
the still waters—are, literally,
"waters of "stillness," whose quiet flow invites to repose. They are
contrasted with boisterous streams on the one hand, and stagnant,
offensive pools on the other.
3. To restore the soul is to revive or quicken
19:7), or relieve it (La 1:11,
paths of righteousness—those of
safety, as directed by God, and pleasing to Him.
for his name's sake—or, regard for His
perfections, pledged for His people's welfare.
4. In the darkest and most trying hour God is
the valley of the shadow of death—is a
ravine overhung by high precipitous cliffs, filled with dense forests,
and well calculated to inspire dread to the timid, and afford a covert
to beasts of prey. While expressive of any great danger or cause of
terror, it does not exclude the greatest of all, to which it is most
popularly applied, and which its terms suggest.
thy rod and thy staff—are symbols of a
shepherd's office. By them he guides his sheep.
5, 6. Another figure expresses God's provided
a table—or, "food," anointing
oil—the symbol of gladness, and the
abundance—are prepared for the child of God, who may feast in
spite of his enemies, confident that this favor will ever attend him.
This beautiful Psalm most admirably sets before us, in its chief
figure, that of a shepherd, the gentle, kind, and sure care extended to
God's people, who, as a shepherd, both rules and feeds them. The
closing verse shows that the blessings mentioned are spiritual.