Psalm 23

1 Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his
name’s sake.

General Subject. Concerning the Lord. P. P.

1, 2. Spiritual food is called herbage. A. 57.
When instruction or doctrine from the Word is spoken of in heaven, then in the world of spirits, where spiritual things appear naturally, are represented to the sight meadows green with grass, herbage and flowers with flocks therein. Feeding meaning to be instructed. A. 5201.

To feed is to teach, because the church is called in the Word the flock, and the men of the church are called sheep and lambs. Hence to feed, signifies to teach, and the shepherd him that teaches. R. 383.

By waters in the Word are signified the truths of faith, likewise the knowledges of truth. E. 71.

It is known in the church that to feed signifies to instruct, the pasture signifies instruction, and a pastor or shepherd an instructor. E. 482.

1-3. Pasture stands for the truths in which man is instructed, and here for such things as relate to spiritual life, for spiritual life is such that if that pasture fails it languishes, and as it were pines away, as does the body when it lacks food. A. 6078.

Concerning the Lord. He teaches and leads to the truths and goods of heaven and the church. P. P.
1, 2, 5. These words in the internal sense signify that he who confides in the Lord is led into all the goods and truths of heaven, and abounds in the delights thereof. By “the Lord is my shepherd” is understood the Lord. By green pastures are signified the knowledges of truth and good, by the still waters are signified the truths of heaven thence derived, by table is signified spiritual nourishment, by anointing the head with oil is signified wisdom derived from good, by my cup runneth over is signified intelligence from truths, the cup signifying here the same as wine. E. 375.

2 Green pastures or pastures of herbage stand for spiritual nourishment which is of the soul, wherefore it is said, He will restore my soul. A. 7571.

Waters signify truths, and in particular natural truths, which are knowledges from the Word. R. 50.

2, 3. A state of peace and tranquility is signified by lying down. A. 3696.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

4 The valley of the shadow of death stands for lower things which are relatively in shade. As valleys were between mountains and hills, and below them, therefore by valleys are signified the lower or exterior things of the church, because by hills and mountains are signified its higher or interior things, by hills things of charity and by mountains those which are of love to the Lord. A. 4715. Thy rod and thy staff stand for the Divine truth and good which have power. A. 4876.

4, 5. Sceptre and staff are also the same word in the Hebrew language. That a staff signifies power is manifest. R. 485.

To walk in a shady valley signifies obscurity of the understanding, in which truths do not appear in the light. Thy rod and thy staff shall console me signifies that Divine truth spiritual, together with Divine truth natural shall protect, because power is in them. The rod is Divine truth spiritual, the staff Divine truth natural, both together relate to the power of protecting, for to console is to protect. The meaning of verse 5 is spiritual nourishment by Divine truth. By setting a table is signified to be spiritually nourished. By making fat the head with oil is signified by the good of love. By the cup is signified by the truth of doctrine from the Word. E. 727.

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

4-6. By a table is signified a receptacle of things celestial, thus heaven as to the reception of such things as are from the Lord. A. 9527.

5 Preparing a table and anointing the head with oil stands for being gifted with the good of charity and love. My cup runneth over means that the natural is thence filled with spiritual truth and good. A. 5120.

To make the head fat with oil means to gift with celestial good. A. 9780.

It is evident that it was an acknowledged custom to anoint themselves and others with oil, see Psalm xlv. 7, xcii. 10: Ezekiel xvi. 9 etc., not with the oil of holiness, with which the priests, the kings, the altar, and the tabernacle were anointed, but with common oil, because this oil signified the gladness and satisfaction arising from the love of good. A. 9954.

See Psalm xi. 6. R. 672.

Cup stands in these passages for Divine truth. On account of this signification it is also called the cup of salvation in Psalm cxvi. 13. E. 960.

Hence there will be no fear of the hells, for He guards, and imparts good and truth in abundance. P. P.

6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all
the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever.

6 In heaven with the Lord to eternity. P. P.
See Psalm xxi. 5. A. 650.

That dwelling is being and living, thus a state, is evident from many passages in the Word. See also Psalm xxvii. 4, and Psalm ci. 7. Dwelling in the house of Jehovah means being and living in the good of love, for this is the house of Jehovah. A. 3384.

Heaven and the church are understood by the house of Jehovah. E. 220.

That to dwell signifies to live, consequently life, may appear from the passages in the Word where dwelling is mentioned as in Isaiah xi. 6; xiii. 20: Jeremiah ii. 6, etc. E. 662.

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)