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23. Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4Yea, 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.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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3. He restoreth my soul As it is the duty of a good shepherd to cherish his sheep, and when they are diseased or weak to nurse and support them, David declares that this was the manner in which he was treated by God. The restoring of the soul, as we have translated it, or the conversion of the soul, as it is, literally rendered, is of the same import as to make anew, or to recover, as has been already stated in the 19th psalm, at the seventh verse. By the paths of righteousness, he means easy and plain paths. 534534     Walford adopts and defends this view. His reading is, “He leadeth me in straight paths.” “This version,” says he, “may perhaps prove not altogether agreeable to the feelings of the reader in consequence of his being accustomed to a different expression in the English Bible. But the consistency of the imagery requires the alteration; as otherwise, we have an incongruous mixture of physical and moral figures. A careful shepherd leads his sheep to verdant pastures, conducts them near peaceful waters, affords them the means of refreshment when wearied, and guides them away from r ugged and tortuous paths to such as are direct and easy.” As he still continues his metaphor, it would be out of place to understand this as referring to the direction of the Holy Spirit. He has stated a little before that God liberally supplies him with all that is requisite for the maintenance of the present life, and now he adds, that he is defended by him from all trouble. The amount of what is said is, that God is in no respect wanting to his people, seeing he sustains them by his power, invigorates and quickens them, and averts from them whatever is hurtful, that they may walk at ease in plain and straight paths. That, however, he may not ascribe any thing to his own worth or merit, David represents the goodness of God as the cause of so great liberality, declaring that God bestows all these things upon him for his own name’s sake. And certainly his choosing us to be his sheep, and his performing towards us all the offices of a shepherd, is a blessing which proceeds entirely from his free and sovereign goodness, as we shall see in the sixty-fifth psalm.




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