The Bible

 

Psalms 23 : The 23rd Psalm

        

Study the Inner Meaning

1 The LORD 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.

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.

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

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 chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 57, 650, 3384, 3696, 4715, 4876, 5120, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 50, 383, 485, 672


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 71, 220, 375, 482, 662, 727, 960

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 15:27

Psalms 27:4, 31:4, 34:10, 11, 92:11, 106:8, 109:21

Proverbs 4:11

Isaiah 40:11, 43:2

Jeremiah 31:25

Ezekiel 34:14

John 10:11, 14

Revelation 7:17

Bible Word Meanings

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...

lord
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...

shepherd
The Writings tell us that shepherds represent those who lead and teach others, using knowledge and true ideas to help people reach the goodness of...

want
'Want of spiritual nourishment,' denotes a lack of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.

restoreth
Everyone knows the phrase "the natural order of things." It means that everything is in its proper place, occupying the niche it is meant to...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

leadeth
The meaning of "leading" people in the Bible is pretty straightforward, though obviously it is about leading people in spiritual things, not natural ones. When...

paths
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

righteousness
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

walk
To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

Shadow of death
'The shadow of death' has respect to the states of people in hell, who are in the falsities of evil.

fear
Fear of the unknown and fear of change are both common ideas, and together cover a broad spectrum of the fears we tend to have...

evil
'Wickedness' signifies evil, and 'iniquity' signifies falsities.

comfort
When the Bible talks about someone being comforted or consoled, it generally means that they are being offered ideas that will help bring them to...

table
Food and drink in the Bible represent the desire to be loving and the understanding of how to be loving, gifts that flow from the...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

head
The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

oil
Oil – typically olive oil – was an extremely important product in Biblical times, for food preparation, medicinal ointment and for burning in lamps. As...

mercy
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...

follow
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...

days
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

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

dwell
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.

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

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: swedenborg.com.


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

Commentary

 

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)

The Bible

 

Isaiah 41:17

King James Version         

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17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

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Explanation of Isaiah 41      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 41

(Note: Rev. Smithson's translation of the Isaiah text is appended below the explanation)

1. KEEP silence before Me, O islands; and let the peoples renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

VERSE 1. ["Silence" is predicated of the church and of the individual when Judgment approaches. "When the interiors of the evil are opened, astonishment is occasioned, to which "silence" corresponds; thus when "the seventh seal was opened, (Revelation 8:1) there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour", which signified the astonishment of the angels at the evil states of the church, when the interiors were opened, as signified by "the opening of the seals." "Silence" also corresponds to any strong emotion of the mind, by whatever cause excited. See Apocalypse Explained 487; Apocalypse Revealed 389.]

2. Who has raised up [One in] justice from the East, has called Him to His foot? has subdued nations before His face, and given Him dominion over kings? has made them like the dust to His sword, and like the driven stubble to His bow?

Verse 2. These things are said concerning the Lord, and concerning His dominion over evils and falsities. By "the unions which He subdued before Him", are signified evils; and by "the kings over whom He gave Him dominion, ' are signified falsities.

That both the former and the latter are dissipated as nothing by His Divine Truth, and by doctrine thence derived, is signified by "He gave them as dust to His sword, and as driven stubble to His bow"; His "sword" denoting Divine Truth, and His "bow" doctrine.

That evils and falsities are dispersed as nothing, is signified by "as the dust, and as driven stubble." It is said that" evils and falsities are so dispersed", and thereby are understood those who are in evils, and thence in falsities, in the other life. Apocalypse Explained 357.

These words relate to the Lord, who is said to be "raised up from the East", because He was conceived of the Divine Itself, which in its essence is Divine Love, from which also the Lord is the Sun of the angelic heaven.

To "call in justice" signifies to restore heaven and the church; for the "justice" of the Lord signifies, in the Word, that from His own power He saved the human race, which was effected by reducing all things in the heavens and the hells into order. Apocalypse Explained 422.

That the subjugation of the hells and the arrangement of the heavens by the Lord, likewise the glorification of His Humanity, and hence the salvation of those who receive the Lord in faith and love, is "Justice" and "Merit", which belong to the Lord alone, may be confirmed from many passages in the Word.

But they who do not know that spirits from the hells are with man, and that thence be has evils and falsities; and also that angels from heaven are with him, whence he has Goods and Truths, and that thus the life of man on the one hand is joined to the hells, and on the other to the heavens, that is, by the heavens to the Lord: and, further, they who do not know that man can by no means be saved, except the hells are subjugated and the heavens reduced to order, and thus all things made subject to the Lord, cannot understand this.

From this it is evident that the Good of the Lord's Merit is the only Good which reigns in heaven; for the Good of the Lord's Merit is also now the continual subjugation of the hells, and thus the safety or salvation of the faithful. That Good is the Good of the Lord's Love, for from Divine Love, whilst He was in the world, He fought and overcame. From divine power in the Human, hence acquired, He alone to eternity fights and conquers for heaven and the church, thus for the universal human race, and thus saves them.

This now is the Good of Merit which is called "Justice", because it is of Justice to subdue the efforts of the hells to destroy the human race, and thus to guard and to save the good and the faithful. Arcana Coelestia 9715.

3. He pursued them; He passed in peace; by a way He had not gone with His feet.

4. Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I Jehovah, the first; and with the last, I am He.

Verses 3, 4. It should be known that one thing in the Word, especially in the Prophets, is described by a twofold expression, as in Isaiah:

"He passed in peace", etc.; "Who has performed and done It?" etc., where one expression relates to Good and the other to Truth or one to the things of the will, and the other to the things of the understanding; thus to "pass in peace" involves the things which are of the will:

"the way He had not gone with His feet", the things of the understanding; in like manner" to perform and to do."

Thus the things which are of the will and of the understanding, are in the Word conjoined, consequently the things which are of love and of truth or which is the same, celestial and spiritual things, that in every particular of the Word there may be something like a marriage, and may thus relate to the heavenly marriage [of the Good and the True] Arcana Coelestia 683.

5. The islands saw, and were afraid; the ends of the earth trembled: they drew near; and they came.

6. Everyone helped his neighbour; and said to his brother, Be strong.

Verse 5. Speaking of the advent of the Lord. By "the islands and the ends of the earth" are understood the nations which are remote from thw Truths of the church; and by "their fear and trembling" are signified commotions of mind, arising from the dread of perishing [at the period of Judgment] Apocalypse Explained 677.

Verses 5, 18. The islands saw, and were afraid, etc. I will make the desert a pool of waters, and the dry ground springs of waters. - The establishment of the church amongst the Gentiles is thus described they being signified by the "islands" and the "ends of the earth", for these expressions in the Word signify those who are further distant from the Truths and Goods of the church, inasmuch as they have not the Word; and consequently are in ignorance.

That the church shall be established among them, is signified by "I will make the desert a pool of waters, and the dry ground springs of waters"; it is called a "desert where there is not yet Good, because there is not yet Truth, from which it is also called the "dry land"; a "pool of waters" and "springs of waters" signify Good, because Truth; for all spiritual Good, which is the Good of the church, is procured by Truths. Apocalypse Explained 304.

Verse 6. Everyone helped his neighbour, etc.

- As to "neighbour" and "brother", see Chapter 19:2, the Exposition.

7. And the carpenter encouraged the founder; he that smooths with the hammer, him that smote the anvil, saying of the soldering, It is good: and he fixes it with nails, that it may not be moved.

Verse 7. Here "the carpenter encouraged [or strengthened] the founder" is predicated of what is evil; "he that smooths", etc., of the false. That what is "smooth" is predicated, in a good sense, of what is True, and, in the opposite sense, of what is false, may be proved from the following passages:

"Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree; among the smooth [things] of the valley is your portion"; (Isaiah 57:5, 6) where to be " inflamed "is said of evil, and "the smooth things of the valley" of what is false.

Again,

"Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongue they speak smooth things." (Psalm 5:9) Arcana Coelestia 3527.

Saying of the soldering, It is good.

- [The "soldering" (junctura) denotes, by correspondence, a conjoining medium, by which falsities are made to cohere together as though they were Truths. This "soldering" or this conjoining medium is, especially, fallacious reasoning, either from the letter of the Word not understood, or from false doctrines taken as principles of thought. As to "nails" and "pegs", which also signify conjoining mediums, see above, Chapter 22:23, the Exposition.]

8. But you, O Israel, My servant; you, O Jacob, whom I have chosen; the seed of Abraham, My friend:

9. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and have called you from the sides thereof: and I said unto you, You art My servant; I have chosen you, and have not rejected you:

Verse 8. The regeneration of man is here treated of, where "Israel" and "Jacob", as in many other passages, are distinguished; and by " Israel" is signified the spiritual internal church, and by "Jacob" the external of the same. Both are called "the seed of Abraham", that is, of the celestial church, because the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural thus succeed each other. Arcana Coelestia 1025. See also 3441.

Verses 8, 9. By "Israel", in the supreme sense, is, understood the Lord as to the internal of the church, wherefore by "the seed of Israel" likewise is signified the divine Truth which is with those who are of the church signified by him; for by "Israel" is also understood the church with those who are interiorly natural, and in truths there from a spiritual origin, wherefore the church, which is spiritual-natural, is also thereby signified. Apocalypse Explained 768.

10. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God: I have strengthened you, I have also helped you; yea, I have supported you with the right hand of My justice.

11. Behold, all they that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded; the men that contended with you shall become as nothing, and shall perish.

12. You shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even the men that strove with you: they shall become as nothing, and as a thing of nought, even the men that warred against you.

13. For I am Jehovah your God, holding your right hand; saying unto you, Fear not; I will help you.

Verses 10, 13. I have strengthened you, I have also helped you; yea, I have supported you with the right hand of My justice, etc. "I have strengthened you, I have also helped you", signifies to give power and intelligence from Omnipotence and Omniscience, which is from Divine Good by Divine Truth; wherefore it is said - "I have supported you with the right hand of My justice"; by the "right hand" is signified Divine Truth, and by "justice?' Divine Good.

The power and wisdom thence derived to man, is denoted by "holding [or confirming] your right hand." Forasmuch as both, namely, Omnipotence and Omniscience, which appertain to the Lord from Divine Good by Divine Truth, are here understood, He is therefore called "Jehovah God"; for the Lord is called "Jehovah" from Divine Good, and "God" from Divine Truth, as may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia 709, 732. Apocalypse Explained 298.

14. Fear not, you worm Jacob; you mortals of Israel: I will help you, says Jehovah, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

15. Behold, I will make you a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: you shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small and shalt make the hills as chaff.

16. You shalt winnow them, and the wind shall bear them away; and the tempest shall scatter them: but you shalt rejoice in Jehovah; in the Holy One of Israel shalt you glory.

Verse 14. I will help you, says Jehovah; and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. - To "redeem'' signifies, in a proper sense, to restore and to appropriate to one's self what had been one's own, and it is predicated of slavery, of death, and of evil; when of slavery, "those are understood who, having been made slaves, are, in the spiritual sense, delivered from hell; when of death, those who are in damnation are understood; and when of evil, those are understood who are in hell, for the evil from which the angel redeemed Jacob, (Genesis 48:16) is hell. (Whereas the Lord delivered man from these things by making the Human in Himself Divine, therefore it is His Divine Human which, in the Word, is called "Redeemer", as in Isaiah 41:14; 49:7, 26; 54:5. In these passages is distinguished the Divine Itself, which is called "Jehovah", from the Divine Human, which is called "Redeemer" and the "Holy One of Israel." Arcana Coelestia 6281.

Verses 14-16. By "Jacob" is understood the external church as to Good and Truth, and hence also external Good and Truth, which is Good and Truth from the sense of the letter of the Word, in which they are principled who belong to the external Church. The reason why these are compared to a "new sharp threshing instrument having teeth" is, because a "threshing instrument" separated the wheat, barley, and other grain from the ear, and by these are signified the Goods and Truths of the church, as may be seen above, Apocalypse Explained 374, 375.

But here the comparison is used to denote the bruising and breaking up of evils and falsities: wherefore it is said "You shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff", by which is signified the destruction of evils arising from the loves of self and of the world, and also of the falsities thence derived. Hence it is also said, "You shalt winnow them and the wind shall bear them away, and the tempest shall scatter them", by which is signified that they shall be as of no account; "wind" and "tempest" are both mentioned, because evils and falsities are understood, for "wind" is predicated of truths, and, in an opposite sense, of falsities, and "tempest" or "storm" of the evils of the false. Apocalypse Explained 405.

As to "storms" and "whirlwinds" at the time of Judgment see Chapter 17:13, the Exposition.

17. The poor and the needy seek waters, and there are none; their tongue is parched with thirst: I Jehovah will hear them; the God of Israel, I will not forsake them.

Verses 17, 18. The subject here treated of is concerning the salvation of the Gentiles by the Lord who are called "poor and needy" from a defect and ignorance of Truth. Their desire of knowing Truths from those who are in the church, where there were not Truths, is described by "their seeking waters where there are none", and "their tongue being parched or failing for thirst"; "water" denoting Truth, and "thirst" the desire thereof.

That they shall be instructed by the Lord, is signified by "I will open in the high places rivers, and in the midst of the valleys fountains", to "open rivers", denoting to give intelligence; "in the high places", in the interior man; "In the midst of the valleys" denotes the exterior man; and to "make fountains", to instruct in Truths.

To "make the desert into a pool of waters, and the dry ground into springs of waters", signifies abundance of Truth with those who before were in defect and ignorance thereof; the "desert" denotes where there is no Good because no Truth, and the "dry ground" where there is no Truth and thence no Good; the "pool of waters" and the "springs of waters" signify abundance of the knowledges of Truth.

From these considerations it is evident that waters, fountains, springs, rivers, and pools of water are not here [literally] meant, but the knowledges of Truth and intelligence thence derived, whence comes salvation. Apocalypse Explained 483,

To "open rivers in the high places" denotes to give interior intelligence; "fountains in the midst of the valleys" signifies to instruct the external man in Truths. Apocalypse Explained 518.

18. I will open in the high places rivers, and in the midst of the valleys fountains: I will make the desert into a pool of waters, and the dry ground in to springs of waters,

Verses 18, 19. These words signify to give intel]igence from spiritual Truth and from natural truths; "rivers in the high places" signifying intelligence from spiritual Truths, and "fountains in the midst of the valleys" intelligence from natural truths by "making the desert into a pool of wafers, and the dry ground into spring waters", is signified to fill with truths the spiritual man and the natural man, where before there were not any truths: the spiritual Ulan, in whom before there was not any truth, is understood by a "desert", and the natural man, into whom there was not before any spiritual influx, is understood by the "dry ground."

Truths in abundance, appertaining to the spiritual man, are understood by the "pool of waters" and truths in abundance, appertaining to the natural man, by "springs of waters." By "giving in the desert the cedar of Shittah, the myrtle, and the oil-tree", is signified to give rational truths and the perception thereof; and by "setting in the wilderness the fir, the pine, and the box", are signified, in like manner, natural truths, which are scientifics and knowledges, with the understanding thereof. The "cedar" denotes rational truth of a superior order, the "myrtle" rational truth of an inferior order, and the "oil-tree" the perception of Good and thence of Truth; the "fir" denotes natural truth of a superior order, the "pine", natural truth of an inferior order, and the "box", the understanding of Good and Truth in the natural principle. Apocalypse Explained 730.

19. In the desert I will give the cedar of Shittah, the myrtle, and the oil-tree: I will set the fir-tree in the wilderness; the pine, and the box together:

Verse 19. These things are said concerning the establishment of the church by the Lord amongst the nations. By the "wilderness" and "desert" is signified where there was before no Good because no Truth; by "the cedar of Shittah, the myrtle, and the oil-tree, is signified spiritual and celestial Good; and by "the fir, the pine, and the box", the Good and Truth thence derived in the natural principle; for every "tree" mentioned in the Word has a particular signification which relates to the Good and Truth of the church; and the "cedar of Shittah", the "myrtle", and the "oil-tree", signify such things as are in the spiritual or internal man, and the "fir", the "pine", and the "box", such as are in the natural or external man. Apocalypse Explained 875.

The "wood and timber of Shittah" was the wood of the most excellent species of cedar, and by the "cedar" is signified the spiritual principle of the church. That the "wood of Shittim" was a species of cedar, is evident from Isaiah 41:19, where the "cedar of Shittah" stands for spiritual Good, and the "oil-tree" for celestial Good. "Shittim-wood" is the Good of Merit, which is of the Lord alone, and which is the only Good that reigns in heaven and which makes heaven; hence it was that that wood was the only wood which was employed in the construction of the Tabernacle, by which heaven was represented; and also of the Ark in which was the Testimony, - its bars or staves; also the Table upon which was the shew-bread, and its bars or staves; likewise the boards of the Sanctuary, and the bars and columns of the Covering; in like manner the Altar, and its bars or staves, were all made of this wood, as may be seen from Exodus 25:10, 13, 23, 28; 26:15, 26, 37.

The Good of Merit is the Good proceeding from the Divine Human of the Lord, which is Christian Good, or spiritual Good with man; it is this Good by which man is saved, for the good which is from any other source is not good, because the Divine is not in it, thus heaven is not in it; and consequently there is no salvation in it. Arcana Coelestia 9172.

20. That they may see, and may know, and may consider, and understand together, that the hand of Jehovah has done this, and that the Holy One of Israel bath created it.

Verse 20. The subject here treated of is concerning the establishment of the church amongst the nations. "Desert" signifies their not being in Good, because in ignorance of Truth; for all Good into which man is reformed is given only by Truths. "That they may see, and may know, and may consider, and understand together", signifies knowledges, understanding, perception, and affection, which are of the love of Good and Truth. From such significations it is evident that by "the Holy One of Israel creating this" is signified reformation, consequently that to "create" is to reform. Apocalypse Explained 294. See also True Christian Religion 573.

The Holy One of Israel has created it.

- As to "creating" and the end for which the Universe has been "created", see Chapter 43:1, 7. Exposition.

21. Produce your cause, says Jehovah: bring forth your strong [reasons], says the King of Jacob.

Verse 21 That the Lord invites man to "reason" with Him, in order that his rational mind and his reflective faculties may be directed to spiritual things, see Chapter 1:18, the Exposition.

As to the negative employment of our "reason", when exercising it from the fallacies of our sensual mind and from negative principles against the Word, which is the origin of all infidelity, and as to the affirmative or right use of our "rational faculties", when reasoning respecting the Divine Word and its Truths, see above, Chapter 36:1, the Exposition.

22. Let them bring them forth, and tell us what shall happen: I let them show the former things, what they are; and we will lay them to heart, and we shall know the event thereof: or declare to us things to come hereafter.

23. Show us the signs of what will be the future, that we may know that you are gods: yea, do good, or do evil; that we may be dismayed, and behold. it together.

Verses 22, 23. That to speak of things future is of the Lord alone, and not of any man or of any spirit, is expressed by "Show us the signs of the future that we may know that you are gods." This is the conclusion of those thIngs which precede, wherefore to "show a sign" is to testify by persuasion that what is saId may be believed. Apocalypse Explained 706.

As to the further meaning of a "sign", see Chapter 45:11, 13.; see also above, Chapter 8:18, the Exposition.

24. But, behold, you are less than nothing; and your work is less than nought: an abomination is he that chooses you!

Verse 24. You are less than nothing; - an abomination is he that chooses you. - [These words imply that whatsoever in the church does not exist from faith in the Lord, and from the Truths of the Word, is of no use whatever to the salvation of man.]

25. I will raise up one from the north, and he shall come; from the rising of the sun shall he call upon My name: and he shall trample on princes as upon mire, even as the potter treads down the clay.

Verse 25. The reason why "from the rising of the sun unto the setting thereof" signifies all from first to last who are in the Good of love to the Lord, is because all who are in heaven have their habitations according to the quarters; and they who are in the Good of love to the Lord dwell from the east to the west, - in th e east those who are in the clear Good of love, and in the west those who are in the obscure Good of love; hence by "from the rising of the sun to the setting" are signified all who are in that Good from first to last. Its being said in Isaiah "I will raise up one from the north, and he shall come; from the rising of the sun", etc., signifies those who are without the church, and those who are within it; for by the "north" is signified where Truth is in obscurity, and thus those who are without the church, because they are in an obscure principle as to Truths, by reason that they have not the Word, and hence do not know anything concerning the Lord; and by "the rising of the sun" are signified those who are within the church, because they have the Word, in which the Lord is always present, and so in His rising. That by "the east, or rising of the sun", and by "the west, or setting of the sun", are understood the Good of love in clearness, and the Good of love in obscurity, may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell 141, 148; and that by the "north" is signified Truth in obscurity, may be seen in the same chapter, the quarters in the spiritual world being there treated of. By "the setting of the sun" is also signified the state of the church when it is in ignorance, which is its first state; and by "the rising of the sun" is signified its state when it is in light." By "the setting of the sun", is also signified the state of the church when it is in evils and falsities thence derived; and by "the rising of the sun", when it is in Goods and Truths thence derived. Apocalypse Explained 401.

As to the "Sun" of the spiritual world, see Chapter 30:26, the Exposition.

He shall trample on princes as upon mire, etc. - That "princes" in a good sense signify primary Truths, but in an opposite sense primary falsities, see Chapter 1:23; 10:7, 8, the Exposition. As to "mire" and "mud", see Chapter 5:25, the Exposition.

26. Who has declared this from the beginning, that we, should know it? and beforehand that we might say, It is just? There was not one that showed it; not one that declared it. there was not one that heard your words.

27. [I] first [said] to Zion, Behold, behold them! and I gave to Jerusalem the messenger of good tidings.

Verses 26, 27. [It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted these verses, but they evidently imply that the Lord, by His Word, is the only Source of all Truth and Goodness to His church and to the human mind, and that "idols" and "graven images, as denoting false doctrines, the traditions of men, and the figments of self-derived intelligence, are "less, or worse than nothing."]

28. But I looked, and there was no man; and from among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I inquired of them, could return a word.

Verse 28. In the Word, and especially in the Prophets, the term "man" [vir] is often named, namely, "man and wife", "man and woman", "man and inhabitant", and also "man [vir] and man [homo]"; and by "man" [vir, ish], in the internal sense, is signified that which is of the understanding, which is Truth; and by "wife", "woman", "inhabitant", and "man" [homo, adam], that which is of the will, which is Good, as in Isaiah:

"I looked, and there was no man [vir], and no counsellor", etc. (Isaiah 41:28)

Again,

"I came, and there was no man", etc. (Isaiah 1:2)

See also Isaiah 59:14-16; (Jeremiah 5:1; Zephaniah 3:6. Arcana Coelestia 3134.

29. Behold, they are all iniquity; their works are nothing: wind and emptiness are their molten images.

Verse 29. "Wind and emptiness" denote the falsities of evil and the evils of the false; "wind" the falsities of evil, and "emptiness" the evils of the false; for where there is emptiness and vacuity, that is, where there is no Good and no Truth, there is evil and the false. That falsities are here signified by "wind", is evident from its being said, "They are all iniquity; their works are nothing"; likewise by its being said, "Wind and emptiness are their molten images"; for by "molten images " are signified the things which man hatches from self derived intelligence, all which are evils and falsities. Apocalypse Explained 419.

As to "molten and graven images" and "idols", see Chapter 2:20; 40:18-20, the Exposition.

---
Isaiah Chapter 41

1. KEEP silence before Me, O islands; and let the peoples renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

2. Who has raised up [One in] justice from the East, has called Him to His foot? has subdued nations before His face, and given Him dominion over kings? has made them like the dust to His sword, and like the driven stubble to His bow?

3. He pursued them; He passed in peace; by a way He had not gone with His feet.

4. Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I Jehovah, the first; and with the last, I am He.

5. The islands saw, and were afraid; the ends of the earth trembled: they drew near; and they came.

6. Everyone helped his neighbour; and said to his brother, Be strong.

7. And the carpenter encouraged the founder; he that smooths with the hammer, him that smote the anvil, saying of the soldering, It is good: and he fixes it with nails, that it may not be moved.

8. But you, O Israel, My servant; you, O Jacob, whom I have chosen; the seed of Abraham, My friend:

9. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and have called you from the sides thereof: and I said unto you, You art My servant; I have chosen you, and have not rejected you:

10. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God: I have strengthened you, I have also helped you; yea, I have supported you with the right hand of My justice.

11. Behold, all they that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded; the men that contended with you shall become as nothing, and shall perish.

12. You shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even the men that strove with you: they shall become as nothing, and as a thing of nought, even the men that warred against you.

13. For I am Jehovah your God, holding your right hand; saying unto you, Fear not; I will help you.

14. Fear not, you worm Jacob; you mortals of Israel: I will help you, says Jehovah, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

15. Behold, I will make you a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: you shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small and shalt make the hills as chaff.

16. You shalt winnow them, and the wind shall bear them away; and the tempest shall scatter them: but you shalt rejoice in Jehovah; in the Holy One of Israel shalt you glory.

17. The poor and the needy seek waters, and there are none; their tongue is parched with thirst: I Jehovah will hear them; the God of Israel, I will not forsake them.

18. I will open in the high places rivers, and in the midst of the valleys fountains: I will make the desert into a pool of waters, and the dry ground in to springs of waters,

19. In the desert I will give the cedar of Shittah, the myrtle, and the oil-tree: I will set the fir-tree in the wilderness; the pine, and the box together:

20. That they may see, and may know, and may consider, and understand together, that the hand of Jehovah has done this, and that the Holy One of Israel bath created it.

21. Produce your cause, says Jehovah: bring forth your strong [reasons], says the King of Jacob.

22. Let them bring them forth, and tell us what shall happen: I let them show the former things, what they are; and we will lay them to heart, and we shall know the event thereof: or declare to us things to come hereafter.

23. Show us the signs of what will be the future, that we may know that you are gods: yea, do good, or do evil; that we may be dismayed, and behold. it together.

24. But, behold, you are less than nothing; and your work is less than nought: an abomination is he that chooses you!

25. I will raise up one from the north, and he shall come; from the rising of the sun shall he call upon My name: and he shall trample on princes as upon mire, even as the potter treads down the clay.

26. Who has declared this from the beginning, that we, should know it? and beforehand that we might say, It is just? There was not one that showed it; not one that declared it. there was not one that heard your words.

27. [I] first [said] to Zion, Behold, behold them! and I gave to Jerusalem the messenger of good tidings.

28. But I looked, and there was no man; and from among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I inquired of them, could return a word.

29. Behold, they are all iniquity; their works are nothing: wind and emptiness are their molten images.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 41


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 2702, 3058, 7091, 8568, 10227, 10238

Apocalypse Revealed 50, 956

Heaven and Hell 365


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 71, 118, 483

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 Friendship: The Outward Expression of Love
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