Yahweh Rapha, is our Shepherd. Yahweh Jireh is our Provider (v. 1); Yahweh Shalom is our Peace (v. 2); Yahweh Tsidkenu is our Righteousness (v. 3); Yahweh Shammah, is our Ever-Present Shepherd, our Comforter and Protector (v. 4); Yahweh Nissi is our Banner under which we defeat our enemies (v. 5). These six verses in Psa 23 speak volumes!
It helps us to understand the many aspects and characteristics of God as revealed in His compound names and how in the end of it all, we have the hope that He will give us the desire of our heart (v. 6; cf. Psa 37).
Sis Valerie Mello
1 (A Psalm of David.) Yahweh is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
He restoreth my soul.
'You know,' he said, 'that soul means life or one's self in the Hebrew writings. There are perilous places for the sheep on all sides, and they never seem to learn how to avoid them. The shepherd must ever be on the watch. And their private fields and, sometimes, gardens and vineyards here and there in the shepherd country; if the sheep stray into them and are caught there, they are forfeited to the owner of the land. So 'he restoreth my soul' means 'the shepherd brings me back and rescues me from fatal and forbidden places, or restores me when wandering.'
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Often have I roamed through the shepherd country in my youth, and seen how hard it is to choose the right path for the sheep. One leads to a precipice, another to a place where the sheep cannot find the way back; and the shepherd was always going ahead, leading them in the right paths, proud of his good name as a shepherd. *
In flashing, or photographing, the power, glory, character, and very substance, of the Deity upon a body taken from among the dead, the Father's Name was written upon it; and the resurrected Jesus can now say, in every sense of the words,
"I and the Father are One" (John 10:30).
This could not have been affirmed of him while dead. But the dead body was made to live again. It was thus restored to its former life; brought back to what it was before; and so fulfilling the word, saying,
"Yahweh restoreth my soul" (Psa. 23:3).
4 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.
The valley of the shadow of death
Some paths that are right still lead through places that have deadly perils. Valley of the shadow of death is the way the Psalm touches this fact in shepherd life. This way of naming the valley is very true to our country. I remember one near my home called the Valley of Robbers, and another the Ravine of the Raven.
I will fear no evil
Ah! How could more be put into few words? With the sheep it matters not what the surroundings are, nor how great the perils and hardships; if only the shepherd is with them they are content. There is no finer picture of the way of peace for the troubled in all the world. To show how much the presence of the shepherd counts for the welfare of the sheep, I can think of nothing better than the strange thing I now tell you.
It is quite beyond the usual daily care on which the flock depends so fondly. I have seen it more than once. Sometimes, in spite of all the care of the shepherd and his dogs, a wolf will get into the very midst of the sheep. The sheep are wild with fright. They run and leap, and make it impossible to get at the foe in their midst who at that very moment may be fastening his teeth in the throat of a helpless member of the flock. But the shepherd is with them. He knows what to do even at such a time.
He leaps to a rock or hillock that he may be seen and heard, and lifts his voice in a long call, something like a wolf's cry. On hearing this, the sheep remember the shepherd; they heed his voice; and strange to tell, the poor timid creatures which were helpless with terror before, instantly rush with all their strength into a solid mass. The pressure is irresistible! The wolf is overcome; frequently he is crushed to death, while the shepherd stands on the rock crying his long call.
'I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.'
Yes, in all things they are more than conquerors through him that loved them.
Thy rod and thy staff.
This also is true to life. The double expression covers the whole round of protecting care. For the shepherd carries a crook for guiding the sheep, and a weapon suitable for defending them - the rod and the staff; one for aiding them in places of need along peaceful ways, the other for defence in perils of robbers and wild beasts. This saying describes with the ease of mastery how much those words mean: 'Thou art with me.'" 'They comfort me.'
You should see the sheep cuddle near the shepherd to understand that word - 'they comfort me.' The shepherd's call, and the answering patter of feet as the sheep hurry to him are fit sounds to be chosen out of the noisy world to show what comfort God gives to souls that heed his voice.
The shadow of death
We must always stand consciously in the presence of death: not morbidly, but soberly and realistically: the death of those we have known and loved (and inadequately appreciated), the death of Christ, our own inevitable death if the Lord remain away.
Sin and death are the present inescapable REALITY, and we cope with reality by facing it maturely and intelligently. The empty, giddy, unreal mirth of fools that fills the world is an abomination to our holy God.
We are always in His presence. Let us ever remember to behave in keeping with that fact.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
A DIFFERING INTERPRETATION.
"In Western lands you, here, drop the shepherd figure and put in a banquet, and so lose the fine climax of completeness in the shepherd's care.
'Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.' The word for 'table' here means simply something spread out, and so is a prepared meal, however it is set forth. There is no higher task for the shepherd in my country than to go from time to time to study places and examine the grass, and find a good and safe feeding place for his sheep. All his skill and often great heroism are called for. There are many poisonous plants in the grass, and the shepherd must find out and avoid them. The sheep will not eat certain poisonous things, but there are some which they will eat - one kind of grass in particular. A cousin of mine once lost three hundred sheep by a mistake in this hard task.
Then there are snake holes in some kinds of ground, and if they are not driven away, the snakes bite the noses of the sheep. The shepherds sometimes burn the fat of hogs along the ground to do this. Sometimes the shepherd finds ground where moles have worked their holes with their heads sticking up, ready to bite the grazing sheep.
The shepherds know how to drive them away as they go ahead of the sheep. And around the feeding ground which the shepherd thus prepares, in holes and caves in the hillside there are jackals, wolves, hyenas, and panthers, and the bravery and skill of the shepherd are at their highest point in closing up these dens with stones or slaying the wild beasts with his long-bladed knife.
Of nothing do you hear shepherds talking more than of their achievements in this part of the care of their flocks. We thus see the figure better:
'Thou preparest a table (or spread out) before me in the presence of mine enemies.'
God's care of man out in the world is a grander thought than that of seating him at an indoor banquet.
"THE OIL AND THE CUP."
What about anointing the head with oil and the cup running over? Oh, there begins the beautiful picture at the end of the day. The Psalm has sung the whole round of the day's wandering, all the needs of the sheep; all the care of the shepherd. The Psalm closes with the last scene of the day.
At the door of the sheepfold the shepherd stands and the rodding of the sheep takes place. The shepherd stands, turning his body to let the sheep pass; he is the door, as Christ said of himself. With his rod he holds back the sheep while he inspects them one by one as they pass into the fold.
He has the horn filled with olive oil, and he has cedar-tar, and he anoints a knee bruised on the rocks or a side scratched by thorns. And here comes one that is not bruised but is simply worn and exhausted: he bathes its face with the refreshing olive oil and he takes the large two-handled cup and dips it full from the vessel of water provided for that purpose and lets the weary sheep drink.
There is nothing finer in the Psalm than this. God's care is not for the wounded only, but for the worn and weary also. The day is done and the sheep are snug within the fold.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of Yahweh for ever.
Then comes the thought of deepest repose and comfort: as they have through all the wanderings of the day now ended. the song dies away as the heart that God has watched and tended breathes this grateful vow before the roaming of the day is forgotten in sleep. Then comes the decision, a settled purpose, a holy vow,
'I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.'
No animal mentioned in Scripture compares in symbolical interest and importance with the sheep. It is alluded to about 500 times.
The Berean Christadelphian, Jan 1923.