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Psalms 23:6

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

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 273

Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 650, 3384, 9527

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 220, 662

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 27:4

Bible Word Meanings

In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

The basic meaning of "follow" in the Bible is pretty obvious if we consider what it means to "follow the Lord." That obviously doesn't mean...

"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

house of the
'The house of the prison' denotes the vastation of falsity, and also falsity itself.

A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

Can You Dwell in the House of the Lord?

The Bible talks about dwelling in “the house of the Lord.” But what does that really mean?

How to Get a Home in Heaven - Swedenborg & Life

What are the houses like in heaven? And how do we get one? We explore the spiritual living conditions of the afterlife and how we can work on our heaven house right now.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 A Shepherd and His Sheep
Use oil pastels or wax crayons to make a picture of shepherd, then use a sponge (cut into the shape of a lamb) to make little lambs around him.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Blessings: Good Tidings of Great Joy
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Experiencing the Twenty-third Psalm
Explore the meaning of each phrase in Psalm 23, then help children experience it using their five senses.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Following the Lord Our Shepherd
Use magnets to picture members of a family following the Lord as the shepherd.
Project | Ages up to 10

 Lord Is My Shepherd Diorama
Make a simple diorama to help remember the Lord's unceasing care.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Memory Verse: God Meant It for Good
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Out of the Forest
A story showing how the Lord leads as described in the 23rd Psalm.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: The Lord Is My Shepherd
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Rainbow Method of Learning the 23rd Psalm
Use the colors of the rainbow to help you learn the sequence of this psalm. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Ribbon Bookmark to Embroider
Embroider a satin ribbon with the words: "The Lord is my Shepherd" and pictures of a shepherd's staff and a little lamb.
Project | Ages over 7

 Shepherd and His Sheep Diorama
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Talking with Your Child About the Twenty-Third Psalm
Article | Ages over 18

 The Good Shepherd
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 7

 The Good Shepherd
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Lord Is My Shepherd
The Lord with His flock all around Him.
Coloring Page | All Ages

 The Lord Is My Shepherd
Print and display this lovely poster of the Twenty-third Psalm with an illustrative color border.
Picture | Ages over 7

 The Lord Is My Shepherd
"The teaching that the Lord is our Shepherd is a powerful and comforting one. The relationship between the sheep and their shepherd involves a sense of trust and security.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord Is Our Shepherd
Color picture of the Lord our Shepherd.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord’s Rod and Staff
This family talk explains what the Lord's rod and staff are in our lives, and how He uses them to comfort us. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Shepherd Rescuing His Sheep
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 The Stream of Providence Game
This game is about the Lord leading us toward His heavenly sheepfold. 
Activity | Ages 11 - 14

 The Twenty-third Psalm
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Twenty-third Psalm Book
Illustrate the literal meaning of the psalm or its application to life. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Twenty-third Psalm Calligraphy with Illustrations
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Twenty Third Psalm
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Two Roads
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Understanding the Twenty-third Psalm
An outline showing parts of the Psalm 23 with suggestions for explaining them to children.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10



The 23rd Psalm      

By Mr. Brian P. David

The Lord as Shepherd, by Nana Schnarr

The 23rd Psalm is one of the best-known and most-loved literary works in the world, and it may well be the best poem ever written. It is also a fine example of the power of figurative language: We read deep things into the vision of ourselves as sheep, led to green pastures and good water by a kind shepherd. It’s empowering to feel the confidence to go fearlessly into the valley of the shadow of death, and to feel the love and caring of a table prepared by the Lord and a cup so full it overflows.

What people don’t know, however, is that this language actually has precise internal meanings, and that when we see them there is an even deeper beauty in the poem. That’s because what it actually describes is the path to heaven, and the fierce desire the Lord has to lead us there.

The first step is to let the Lord be our shepherd – to accept His teaching and His leadership. The green pastures and the still waters represent the things He will teach us for the journey. Then He begins working inside is, setting our spiritual lives in order, so that we desire to do what’s good and to love one another. That’s represented by restoring our souls and leading us in the paths of righteousness.

But we will still face challenges. We still live external lives, out in the world, and we are subject to desires that arise in those externals, in our bodily lives. That’s the valley of the shadow of death. But the rod and staff represent truth from the Lord on both external and internal levels, ideas that can defend us against those desires.

And if we keep following, the Lord will prepare a table for us – a place inside us that he can fill with love (the anointing oil) and wisdom (the overflowing cup). Thus transformed, we can enter heaven, with love for others (“goodness”) and love from the Lord (“mercy”) and can love and be loved to eternity.

One of many beautiful things about this is the fact that it is the Lord who really does all the work. In the whole text, the only action taken by the sheep is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Other than that, they follow the Lord, trust the Lord, accept the blessings of the Lord. And that is really true! In external states (in the valley) we might seem to be doing the work ourselves, but internally, spiritually, we simply need to give ourselves to the Lord and let Him bless us.

The underlying idea here is that the Lord created us so that He could love us, in loving us wants us to be happy, knows that our greatest happiness will come from being conjoined to Him in heaven, and Himself wants nothing more than to be conjoined to us. So everything He does, in every moment of every day for every person on the face of the planet, is centered on the goal of getting that person to heaven. He wants each and every one of us in heaven more than we are capable of imagining. We just need to cooperate.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 375 [34], 727 [2]; The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 273)

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #482

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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482. Verse 17. For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, signifies that the Lord will instruct them out of heaven. This is evident from the signification of "the Lamb," as being the Lord in relation to Divine truth (of which see above, n. 297, 343, 464); also from the signification of "throne," as being heaven (of which also above, n. 253; "in the midst of the throne" signifies in the universal heaven, for "in the midst" signifies in each and every thing, that is, in the whole, see above, n. 213; also from the signification of "to feed" as being to instruct (of which presently). This makes evident that "the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them" signifies that the Lord will instruct them out of heaven. It is here said, "the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed them," and above, "He who sitteth on the throne shall dwell over them" which makes it very clear that it is the Lord who is meant both by "He who sitteth on the throne," and by "the Lamb in the midst of the throne," but "He who sitteth on the throne" means the Lord in relation to Divine good, and "the Lamb in the midst of the throne" means the Lord in relation to Divine truth; for "to dwell," which is said of Him that sitteth upon the throne, is predicated of good (see above, n. 470); and "to feed," which is said of the Lamb, is predicated of truths; for "to feed" signifies to instruct in truths.

(References: Revelation 7:17, 10:10; The Apocalypse Explained 213, 253, 297, 343, 464, 470)

[2] In the Word of the Old Testament mention is frequently made of "Jehovah" and "God," also of "Jehovah" and "the Holy One of Israel," and both mean the Lord alone, "Jehovah" the Lord in relation to Divine good, and "God" and "the Holy One of Israel" the Lord in relation to Divine truth; it is thus said because of the marriage of Divine good and Divine truth in every particular of the Word. That "to feed" signifies to instruct can be seen without further explanation, since it is a custom derived from the Word to call those who teach "pastors" (or feeders), and those who are instructed "a flock;" but why they are so called is not yet known, and shall therefore be told. In heaven where all things that appear before the eyes are representative, representing under a natural appearance the spiritual things that angels think and by which they are affected; thus are their thoughts and affections presented before their eyes in such forms as exist in the world, that is, in forms similar to natural things, and this by virtue of the correspondence that is established by the Lord between spiritual things and natural. (This correspondence has been treated of in many places; also in the work Heaven and Hell , n. 87-102, and 103-115.) It is from this correspondence that in heaven flocks of sheep, lambs, and goats appear feeding in green pastures, and also in gardens; and these appearances spring from the thoughts of those who are in the goods and truths of the church, and who from these think intelligently and wisely. It is from this that mention is so often made in the Word of "flock," "pasture," as also of "feeding," and "feeder" (or shepherd); for the Word in the letter consists of such things as appear in heaven before the eyes, and these signify correspondent spiritual things.

(References: Heaven and Hell 103-115)

[3] As it is known in the church that "to feed" signifies to instruct, "pasture" instruction, and "shepherd" an instructor, a few passages only in which "feeding" and "pasture" are mentioned shall be quoted without further explanation. In Isaiah:

In that day shall thy cattle feed in a broad meadow (Isaiah 30:23).

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs into His arm, and shall gently lead them that give suck (Isaiah 40:11).

He shall say to the bound, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Reveal yourselves. They shall feed upon the ways, and in all the bare hills shall be their pasture (Isaiah 49:9).

In Jeremiah:

Against the shepherds that feed My people, ye have scattered My flock. Because of cursing the land mourneth; the pastures of the desert are dried up (Jeremiah 23:2, 10).

He shall feed Israel on Carmel and Bashan (Jeremiah 50:19).

In Ezekiel:

I will seek My flock and I will search them out. I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the mountains of the height of Israel shall their sheepcote be; there shall they lie down in a good sheepcote, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 34:11, 13, 14).

In Hosea:

I did know thee 1 in the wilderness, in a land of drought; where they had pasture (Hosea 13:5, 6).

In Joel:

The droves of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; and the droves of sheep are made desolate (Joel 1:18).

In Micah:

Out of Bethlehem of Ephrathah shall go forth one who shall stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah (Micah 5:2, 4).

Feed Thy people with Thy rod, the flock of Thine heritage; they shall feed in Bashan and Gilead (Micah 7:14).

In Zephaniah:

The remnants of Israel shall feed and lie down (Zephaniah 3:13).

In David:

Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall not want; He will make me to lie down in pastures of herbage (Psalms 23:1, 2).

The Lord chose David; from following the ewes giving suck He brought him to feed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance; and he fed them in the integrity of his heart (Psalms 78:70-72).

Jehovah hath made us His people, and the flock of His pasture [keri]. Therefore we are His people and the flock of His pasture (Psalms 100:3).

In John:

Jesus said to Peter, Lovest thou Me? He said that he loved Him. He said unto him, Feed My lambs. He said a second time, Feed My sheep. Again He said a third time, Feed My sheep (John 21:15-17).

Also in many other passages, in which "to feed" signifies to instruct in truths, and "pasture" truths in which they are instructed.


1. The photolithograph has "them," but cf. AE 780; AC 6078.


(References: Ezekiel 34:13-14; Hosea 13:5-6; Psalms 23:1-2; Revelation 10:10)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 470, 630, 687, 726, 850, 858, 865, 936

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.