He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.
23:1-6 Confidence in God's grace and care. - "The Lord is my shepherd." In these words, the believer is taught to express his satisfaction in the care of the great Pastor of the universe, the Redeemer and Preserver of men. With joy he reflects that he has a shepherd, and that shepherd is Jehovah. A flock of sheep, gentle and harmless, feeding in verdant pastures, under the care of a skilful, watchful, and tender shepherd, forms an emblem of believers brought back to the Shepherd of their souls. The greatest abundance is but a dry pasture to a wicked man, who relishes in it only what pleases the senses; but to a godly man, who by faith tastes the goodness of God in all his enjoyments, though he has but little of the world, it is a green pasture. The Lord gives quiet and contentment in the mind, whatever the lot is. Are we blessed with the green pastures of the ordinances, let us not think it enough to pass through them, but let us abide in them. The consolations of the Holy Spirit are the still waters by which the saints are led; the streams which flow from the Fountain of living waters. Those only are led by the still waters of comfort, who walk in the paths of righteousness. The way of duty is the truly pleasant way. The work of righteousness in peace. In these paths we cannot walk, unless. God lead us into them, and lead us on in them. Discontent and distrust proceed from unbelief; an unsteady walk is the consequence: let us then simply trust our Shepherd's care, and hearken to his voice. The valley of the shadow of death may denote the most severe and terrible affliction, or dark dispensation of providence, that the psalmist ever could come under. Between the part of the flock on earth and that which is gone to heaven, death lies like a dark valley that must be passed in going from one to the other. But even in this there are words which lessen the terror. It is but the shadow of death: the shadow of a serpent will not sting, nor the shadow of a sword kill. It is a valley, deep indeed, and dark, and miry; but valleys are often fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God's people. It is a walk through it: they shall not be lost in this valley, but get safe to the mountain on the other side. Death is a king of terrors, but not to the sheep of Christ. When they come to die, God will rebuke the enemy; he will guide them with his rod, and sustain them with his staff. There is enough in the gospel to comfort the saints when dying, and underneath them are the everlasting arms. The Lord's people feast at his table, upon the provisions of his love. Satan and wicked men are not able to destroy their comforts, while they are anointed with the Holy Spirit, and drink of the cup of salvation which is ever full. Past experience teaches believers to trust that the goodness and mercy of God will follow them all the days of their lives, and it is their desire and determination, to seek their happiness in the service of God here, and they hope to enjoy his love for ever in heaven. While here, the Lord can make any situation pleasant, by the anointing of his Spirit and the joys of his salvation. But those that would be satisfied with the blessings of his house, must keep close to the duties of it.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures - Margin, "Pastures of tender grass." The Hebrew word rendered "pastures" means usually "dwellings," or "habitations." It is applied here properly to "pastures," as places where flocks and herds lie down for repose. The word rendered in the margin "tender grass" - דשׁא deshe' - refers to the first shoots of vegetation from the earth - young herbage - tender grass - as clothing the meadows, and as delicate food for cattle, Job 6:5
. It differs from ripe grass ready for mowing, which is expressed by a different word - חציר châtsı̂yr. The idea is that of calmness and repose, as suggested by the image of flocks "lying down on the grass." But this is not the only idea. It is that of flocks that lie down on the grass "fully fed" or "satisfied," their wants being completely supplied. The exact point of contemplation in the mind of the poet, I apprehend, is that of a flock in young and luxuriant grass, surrounded by abundance, and, having satisfied their wants, lying down amidst this luxuriance with calm contentment. It is not merely a flock enjoying repose; it is a flock whose wants are supplied, lying down in the midst of abundance. Applied to the psalmist himself, or to the people of God generally, the idea is, that the wants of the soul are met and satisfied, and that, in the full enjoyment of this, there is the conviction of abundance - the repose of the soul at present satisfied, and feeling that in such abundance want will always be unknown.
green...: Heb. pastures of tender grass
still...: Heb. waters of quietness
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,.... Or "pastures of tender grass" (t); this is one part of the shepherd's work, and which is performed by Christ, Ezekiel 34:14
; by these "green pastures" may be meant the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises, where there is delicious feeding; likewise the fulness of grace in Christ, from whence grace for grace is received; also the flesh and blood, righteousness and sacrifice, of Christ, which faith is led unto and lives upon, and is refreshed and invigorated by; to which may be added the doctrines of the Gospel, with which Christ's under-shepherds feed his lambs and sheep, there being in them milk for babes and meat for strong men; and likewise the ordinances of the Gospel, the goodness and fatness of the Lord's house, the feast of fat things, and breasts of consolation: here Christ's sheep are made to "lie down", denoting their satiety and fulness; they having in these green pastures what is satisfying and replenishing; as also their rest and safety, these being sure dwellings and quiet resting places, even in the noon of temptation and persecution; see Sol 1:7;
he leadeth me beside the still waters, or "waters of rest and quietness" (u); not to rapid torrents, which by reason of the noise they make, and the swiftness of their motion, the sheep are frightened, and not able to drink of them; but to still waters, pure and clear, and motionless, or that go softly, like the waters of Shiloah, Isaiah 8:6; and the "leading" to them is in a gentle way, easily, as they are able to bear it; so Jacob led his flock, Genesis 33:14; and Christ leads his, Isaiah 40:11; by these "still waters" may be designed the everlasting love of God, which is like a river, the streams whereof make glad the hearts of his people; these are the waters of the sanctuary, which rise to the ankles, knees, and loins, and are as a broad river to swim in; the pure river of water of life Christ leads his sheep to, and gives them to drink freely of: also communion with God, which the saints pant after, as the hart pants after the water brooks, and Christ gives access unto; moreover he himself is the fountain of gardens, and well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon; and the graces of his Spirit are also as rivers of living water, all which he makes his people partakers of; to which may be added, that the Scriptures, and the truths of the Gospel, are like still, quiet, and refreshing waters to them, and are the waters to which those that are athirst are invited to come, Isaiah 55:1; and in the immortal state Christ will still be a shepherd, and will feed his people, and lead them to fountains of living water, where they shall solace themselves for ever, and shall know no more sorrow and sighing, Revelation 7:17.
(t) "tenerae herbae", Piscator, Amama, Gejerus, Michaelis; "in folds of budding grass", Ainsworth. (u) "aquas requietum", Pagninus, Montanus; "quietum", Vatablus, Michaelis; "vel quietis", Gejerus; so Ainsworth; Apollinar. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
(Heb.: 22:28-32)The long line closing strophe, which forms as it were the pedestal to the whole, shows how far not only the description of the affliction of him who is speaking here, but also the description of the results of his rescue, transcend the historical reality of David's experience. The sufferer expects, as the fruit of the proclamation of that which Jahve has done for him, the conversion of all peoples. The heathen have become forgetful and will again recollect themselves; the object, in itself clear enough in Psalm 9:18
, becomes clear from what follows: there is a γνῶσις τοῦ θεοῦ (Psychol. S. 346ff.; tr. pp. 407ff.) among the heathen, which the announcement of the rescue of this afflicted one will bring back to their consciousness.
(Note: Augustin De trinitate xiv. 13, Non igitur sic erant oblitae istae gentes Deum, ut ejus nec commemoratae recordarentur.)
This prospect (Jeremiah 16:19.) is, in Psalm 22:29 (cf. Jeremiah 10:7), based upon Jahve's right of kingship over all peoples. A ruler is called משׁל as being exalted above others by virtue of his office (משׁל according to its primary meaning equals Arab. mṯl, erectum stare, synonymous with כּחן, vid., on Psalm 110:4, cf. עמד Micah 5:3). In וּמשׁל we have the part., used like the 3 praet., without any mark of the person (cf. Psalm 7:10; Psalm 55:20), to express the pure praes., and, so to speak, as tempus durans: He rules among the nations (ἔθνη). The conversion of the heathen by that sermon will, therefore, be the realisation of the kingdom of God.
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.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures - בנאות דשא binoth deshe, not green pastures, but cottages of turf or sods, such as the shepherds had in open champaign countries; places in which themselves could repose safely; and pens thus constructed where the flock might be safe all the night. They were enclosures, and enclosures where they had grass or provender to eat.
Beside the still waters - Deep waters, that the strongest heat could not exhale; not by a rippling current, which argues a shallow stream. Or perhaps he may here refer to the waters of Siloam, or Shiloah, that go sof tly, Isaiah 8:6, compared with the strong current of the Euphrates. Thou hast brought us from the land of our captivity, from beyond this mighty and turbulent river, to our own country streams, wells, and fountains, where we enjoy peace, tranquillity, and rest.
The old Psalter gives this a beautiful turn: On the water of rehetyng forth he me broght. On the water of grace er we broght forth, that makes to recover our strengthe that we lost in syn. And reheteis (strengthens) us to do gude workes. My saule he turned, that es, of a synful wreche, he made it ryghtwis, and waxyng of luf in mekeness. First he turnes our sautes til hym; and then he ledes and fedes it. Ten graces he telles in this psalme, the qwilk God gyfs til his lufers, (i.e., them that love him).
23:2 Lie down - To repose myself at noon, as the manner was in those hot countries. Green - Where there is both delight and plenty of provisions.