Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
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
1Pe 2:25; 5:4),
and therefore the opinion that He is the Lord here so described,
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 it
or relieve it
(La 1:11, 19).
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 near.
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 care.
a table--or, "food," anointing
oil--the symbol of gladness, and the overflowing
cup--which represents 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