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 49:8-9

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Isaiah 49      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 49

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

1. ATTEND, O islands, unto Me; and hearken, you peoples, from afar: Jehovah has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has He made mention of my name.

VERSE 1. "Islands" signify those who are in Truths, and "peoples from afar" those who are in Goods, and, abstractedly, Truths and Goods, both in the natural man; "from afar" is predicated of Goods which are in the natural man, but what is "near" of Goods in the spiritual man. "Peoples" here signify Goods, because in the original it is a different term from that by which Truths are signified. Apocalypse Explained 406. See also Arcana Coelestia 1158, 2709.

Verses 1, 12. By the "islands", and by the "peoples from afar", and "from the north and from the sea", are understood the Gentiles or nations with whom the church was to be established. Hence it is evident that externals are distant from internals, and stand, as it were, afar off; hence it is that, in the Word, by "afar off" is signified the external, or what is removed from the internal, as in the above passage, and in the following:

"Hear, O you that are afar off, what I have done; and acknowledge, O you that are near, My power." (Isaiah 33:13)

By those who are "afar off" are there understood the nations or Gentiles, because remote from internal Truths; and by the "near" are understood those who are of the church, and in Truths from the Word. Apocalypse Explained 1133.

As to "islands", see Chapter 41:5, the Exposition.

Verses 1, 5. The Lord, in many parts of the Word, is called "Creator", "Maker", and " Former from the womb", and also "Redeemer", by reason that He creates man anew, reforms, regenerates; and redeems. It may be supposed that the Lord is so called because He created man, and forms him in the womb, but still it is a spiritual creation and formation which is here understood; for the Word is not only natural, but also spiritual, - natural for men, who are natural, and spiritual for the angels, who are spiritual, as may also appear from this consideration, that the things here said are said concerning Israel, and, in the supreme sense, concerning the Lord.

By "Israel" is understood the church, thus every man of the church; and inasmuch as the Lord knows the quality of every one as to the Good of love and the Truth of faith, therefore it is said "Jehovah has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has He made mention of my name."

By "calling and knowing the name" of anyone, is signified to know his quality; "from the womb" denotes as to the Good of love, and "from the bowels of my mother", as to Truths from that Good. By "Jacob", who shall be brought back unto Him, and "Israel", who shall be gathered unto Him, is signified the church; by "Jacob" the external church, and by "Israel" the internal, - the latter being in the spiritual man, the former in the natural. Apocalypse Explained 710.

These words also treat of the Lord. To "make mention of His name" is to instruct as to His quality. Arcana Coelestia 2009.

2. And He has set my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand has He concealed me, and He has made me a polished shaft; in His quiver has He hid me;

Verse 2. Where by the "mouth" of the prophet is signified Divine Truth, wherefore it is compared to a "sharp sword", whereby is understood its penetrating power, and dispersing and destroying the false. Apocalypse Explained 908.

In the shadow of His hand has He concealed me, etc. - Treating also concerning the Lord. By the "sharp sword" is signified Truth dispersing the false; by the "polished shaft" is denoted Truth dispersing the evil; and by the "quiver" is signified the Word. Hence it is evident what is meant by "He has set my mouth like a sharp sword, and has made me a polished shaft, and in His quiver has He hid me", that is, that in Him and from Him is Divine Truth, by which falsities and evils are dispersed, and that in Him and from Him is the Word, where and whence those Truths are. Apocalypse Explained 357.

The "sharp sword" is Truth fighting; and the "polished shaft" is the Truth of doctrine. Arcana Coelestia 2799.

3. And He has said unto me, You art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

Verses 3, 6. Israel, in whom I will be glorified. - Meaning the Divine Human of the Lord. Arcana Coelestia 3441.

4. And I said, I have laboured in vain; for nought, and for vanity, I have spent my strength: nevertheless my judgment is with Jehovah, and the recompense of my work with my God.

5. And now [thus] says Jehovah, my Former from the womb to be His servant, to bring back Jacob unto Him, and that Israel unto Him may be gathered: then shall I be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah, and my God will be my strength:

Verse 4. Speaking of the establishment of the New Church from the Lord. That it could not be established with the Jewish nation, because Truths could not be received by that nation from any spiritual affection, is understood by "I said, I have laboured in vain; for nought [or emptiness], and for vanity, I have spent my strength." That still a spiritual church is provided by the Lord, that is, with the Gentiles, is signified by "My judgment is with Jehovah, and the recompense of my work with my God."

By "recompense" is here signified the church, which is in the spiritual affection of Truth; by "labour" and 'by "work" is understood the combat of the Lord against the hells; and the subjugation of them, whereby the Lord restored the equilibrium between heaven and hell, in which man can receive Truth and become spiritual; concerning which equilibrium, see the work on Heaven and Hell 589-603, and in the small work on the Last Judgrnent, n. 33, 34, 73, 74. Apocalypse Explained 695.

6. And He said, It is a light thing that You should be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: [but] I will also give You for a light to the nations, to be My salvation to the end of the earth.

7. Thus says Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One; to Him who is despised in soul, whom the nation abhors; to the Servant of rulers: Kings shall see Him, and shall rise up; princes also, and they shall bow themselves down; for the sake of Jehovah, who is faithful; of the Holy One of Israel, for He has chosen You.

Verse 6. [These words seem to imply that the Lord, or Jehovah in His Humanity, would not only" raise up the tribes of Israel", etc., that is, establish the true church, but that from Him should come the "light" and "salvation" for all nations and peoples, and for the entire universe. That the tribes of Israel and the Jews will not again, in a literal sense, be gathered to their own land, as is supposed by many from not knowing the spiritual sense of the Word, can be abundantly proved. See the Exposition of Isaiah Chapter 66:20.]

My salvation to the end of the earth. - See above, Chapter 42:10-12, the Exposition.

8. Thus says Jehovah, In the time of acceptance have I answered You, and in the day of salvation have I helped You; and I will preserve You, and give You for a covenant of the people; to restore the land, to give possession of the desolate heritages:

Verse 8. I will give You for a covenant of the people, etc. - To "give for a covenant of the people", signifies that conjunction may be with the Lord and by Him; to "restore the land", is to restore the church; and to "give possession of the desolate heritages", signifies to restore the Goods and Truths of the church which were destroyed. Apocalypse Explained 701.

As to the "Covenant", see above, Chapter 42:6, the Exposition.

Verses 8, 13. I will give You for a covenant of the people, to restore the land. Sing, O you heavens; and rejoice, O earth; you mountains, break forth into song, etc.

- Treating of the Lord and of His advent. The establishment of the church by Him is signified by "I will give You for a covenant of the people, to restore the land"; to "restore the land" denoting to re-establish the church. It is well known that the Lord did not restore the land to the Jewish people, but that He established the church amongst the Gentiles. The joy in consequence thereof is described by "Sing, O you heavens; rejoice, O earth; you mountains, break forth into song." By the "heavens" are understood the heavens where are the angels who are in the interior Truths of the church; by the "earth" is understood the church with men; and by the "mountains", those who are in the Good of love to the Lord. Apocalypse Explained 304.

9. Saying to the prisoners, Go forth; to those that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and on all the eminences shall be their pasture.

Verse 9. These words treat manifestly of the Lord. The "prisoners" [or the bound] are, in particular, those who were detained in the lower earth until the advent of the Lord, and who were then elevated into heaven; and, in general, those who are in Good, and kept, as it were, bound by falsities, from which, however, they endeavour to come forth. To "feed in the ways" is to be instructed in Truths; that "ways" are Truths, see Arcana Coelestia 627, 2333; and that to "feed" is to be instructed, n. 5201. "On all eminences shall be their pasture", signifies to be nourished in Good; for "eminences", like mountains, are the Goods of love. Arcana Coelestia 6854. See also 6078.

By "the bound [or prisoners], to whom He shall say, Go forth", and by "those that are in darkness, to whom He shall say, Show yourselves", are signified the Gentiles who have lived in Good according to their religion, and yet were in falsities from ignorance, who are called "bound" when they are in temptations; "darkness" denotes falsities from ignorance. Apocalypse Explained 481.

As to the "lower earth" in the world of spirits, and the "prisoners", or the "bound", who are detained there until they are devastated of their false principles, see Chapter 24:22, the Exposition.

10. They shall not hunger, neither shall they thirst; neither shall, the heat nor the sun smite them: for He that has mercy on them shall lead them, and, shall guide them to springs of water.

Verse 10. Any one who thinks deeply may see that hunger and thirst for natural meat and drink are not here meant, neither the natural sun and heat which shall not smite them, nor natural springs of water to which they shall be led; by "hunger" and "thirst", therefore, is signified to hunger and thirst for such things as belong to eternal life, or which communicate that life, which, in general, have reference to the Good of love and the Truth of faith", hunger" relating to the former, and "thirst" to the latter. The "heat" and the "sun" signify the heat derived from false principles and the love of evil; for these take away all spiritual hunger and thirst. The "springs of water, to which the Lord will lead them", signify illustration in all Truth; a "spring" or "fountain" denoting the Word and doctrine from the Word; "water" denoting Truth; and to "lead", when predicated of the Lord, denoting to illustrate. From these considerations it may appear what is signified by the words of the Lord in John:

"I am the Bread of Life: He who cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he who believes on Me shall never thirst"; (John 6:35) where that to "hunger" is to come to the Lord; and that to "thirst" is to believe on Him, is evident; to "come to the Lord" is to do His commandments, Apocalypse Explained 386.

That "the heat shall not smite them", signifies that the false originating in concupiscence shall not affect them. Apocalypse Explained 481.

11. And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted.

Verse 11, 13. By "mountains", in the plural number, are understood both mountains and hills, thus both the Good of love and the Good of charity. The "mountains and hills being made into a way, and the highways being exalted", signifies that they who are in those Goods shall be in genuine Truths, - to be "made or set into a way" signifying to be in Truths; and for "the highways to be exalted", is meant to be in genuine Truths, for "ways" and "highways" signify Truths, which are said to be "exalted" by Good; and Truths derived from Good are genuine Truths. Their joy of heart in consequence thereof is signified by "Sing, O you heavens; and rejoice, O earth; "internal joy by "Sing, O you heavens", and external joy by "Rejoice, O earth." Confessions from joy originating in the Good of love, are signified by "You mountains, break forth into song." That this was on account of reformation and regeneration, is signified by "for Jehovah has comforted His people." That the mountains in the world are not here understood, is evident, for to what purpose would it be for "mountains to be made into a way", for "the highways to be exalted", and likewise for" the mountains to break forth into singing"? Apocalypse Explained 405.

12. Lo! these shall come from afar; and lo! these from the north and from the sea; and these from the land of Sinim.

Verse 12. The "north" signifies those who are in obscurity as to Truth; the "west" [or the sea], those who are in obscurity as to Good; and they are said to "come from afar" who are remote from the light which is from the Lord. Arcana Coelestia 3708 Arcana Coelestia 3708[1-23].

As to the "east", "west", "north", and "south", see Chapter 43:5, 6, the Exposition.

From the land of Sinim. - [It is not known what country "Sinim" designated, but it is probable that it was adopted as an appellation for the south, as the "sea" in this verse, and frequently elsewhere, is for the west. In this way the four quarters are designated, - "from afar" denoting the east, or those who are remote from the acknowledgement and love of the Lord; and "Sinim", those who are remote from the light or intelligence of Truth proceeding from that love.]

13. Sing, O you heavens; and rejoice, O earth; you mountains, break forth into song: for Jehovah has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.

Verse 13. See the Exposition of Isaiah Chapter 44:23.

14. But Zion says, Jehovah has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me,

15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, these may forget; but I will not forget you.

Verses 14, 15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion. on the son of her womb?-This is said because in the spiritual sense regeneration is understood, wherefore comparison is made with a "woman" and "her love towards her infant." The case is the same with those who are regenerated by the Lord. Apocalypse Explained 710.

16. Behold, on the palms of My hands have I graven you; your walls are continually before Me.

Verse 16. To "engrave" or to "write on stone", also on the "palms of the hands", signifies perpetual remembrance. "Your walls are continually before Me;"-"walls" are the Truths of faith. (Arcana Coelestia 6419, 9841)

See, as to the meaning of a "city", "walls", "bulwarks", etc., Chapter 26:1, the Exposition.

17. They shall hasten your sons; your destroyers and your devastators shall depart from you.

Verses 17, 18. These things are said of "Zion", by which is signified the celestial church. By "the sons who shall make haste" are understood the Truths of that church. That "sons" are Truths has been frequently shown above; hence it is said that "she [Zion] should clothe herself with them all, as with an ornament; and should bind them about her, as a bride [her jewels]", -which words can be said of, the Truths of the church, but not of the "sons" of Zion. Arcana Coelestia 10540.

Verses 17, 22. They shall hasten your sons; your destroyers and your devastators shall depart from you, etc. - The establishment of a New Church by the Lord is treated of in these words. By "the sons whom they shall hasten, and whom they shall bring in their bosom", and by "the daughters whom they shall carry upon their shoulder", are understood all who are in Truths and in the affection thereof and abstractedly from persons, Truths themselves, and their affections, with those who will be of the New Church. "Your destroyers and your devastators" signify the falsities of evil; that these will be removed is signified: by "they shall depart from you." Apocalypse Explained 724.

18. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all these gather themselves together, they come to you. As I live, says Jehovah, surely you shalt clothe yourself with them all, as with an ornament; and shalt bind them on you, as a bride [her jewels],

19. For your wastes and your desolate places, and the land of your destruction, shall even now be too narrow for the inhabitants; and they that swallowed you up shall be far away.

20. The sons, of whom you wast bereaved, shall yet say in thine ears, This place is too narrow for me; make room for me that I may dwell.

21. And you shalt say in thine heart, Who has begotten me these? I was bereaved [of my sons], and solitary; an exile, and an outcast; and these, who has nourished them up? Lo! I was forsaken, and alone; these, where were they?

Verses 18, 20, 21. These words treat of "Zion", or of the celestial church and of its fructification after vastation. The "sons of bereavement." stand for Truths, of which in vastation she was deprived, but which were afterwards restored and immensely increased. (Arcana Coelestia 5536 Arcana Coelestia 5536[1-5])

In the whole of this chapter the desolation of those who are regenerated is treated of, and of their regeneration and fructification after desolation and at length, [in verse 26] of the punishment of those who desolate or oppress. Arcana Coelestia 5376.

22. Thus says the Lord Jehovih, Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and to the peoples will I exalt My standard: and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be borne on their shoulder.

Verses 22, 23. These words treat of the Lord, and of those who worship and adore Him. To "lift up the hand to the nations and to the peoples a standard", is to bring to Himself all who are in the Goods of love and in Truths hence derived; of them it is said that "they should bring their sons in the bosom, and their daughters on the shoulder"; "sons" are the affections of Truth, and "daughters" are affections of Good; of them it is also said that "kings should be their nursing fathers [or nourishers], and their queens [or princesses]their nursing mothers"; "kings" are the veriest Truths and "queens" their Goods; and because man is regenerated and also nourished by these Truths and Goods, it is said they shall be your nourishers and your nurses [giving suck]. This is the internal sense of these words; who, without that sense, could understand them? That man is regenerated by Truths, and by a life according to them, see Chapter 1:2; 8:3, the Exposition. Apocalypse Explained 175.

The whole of this chapter treats of the advent of the Lord and of the salvation of those who receive Him, as is evident from verses 6-9; consequently it is not the salvation of the Jews which is here treated of much less their restoration to the land of Canaan. That the Jewish nation was not understood in the passages here adduced, may also appear from this circumstance, that it was the worst, of all nations, and idolatrous in heart; and that they were not introduced into the land of Canaan on account of any goodness and justice of heart, but on account of the promise made to their fathers; likewise that there were no Truths and Goods of the church with them, but falsities and evils; and that they were therefore rejected and expelled from the land of Canaan, as may appear from all those passages in the Word wherever that nation is described. Apocalypse Explained 433. See Chapter 66:20, 22, the Exposition.

Verse 22. For the meaning of a "standard", see Chapter 13:2, the Exposition.

23. And kings shall be your nursing fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers: with their faces to the earth they shall bow down unto you, and shall lick the dust of your feet; and you shalt know that I am Jehovah, and that they who trust in Me shall not be ashamed.

Verse 23. Because "kings" signify those who are in Truths derived from the Good of love to the Lord, therefore it became a custom from ancient times that "kings", when they were crowned; should be distinguished by certain insignia, which signify Truths derived from Good, as that a "king" should be anointed with oil, that he should wear a crown of gold, that he should hold a sceptre in his right hand, that he should be clothed with a purple robe, that he should sit upon a throne of silver, and that he should ride with his insignia upon a white horse; for "oil" signifies Good, from which is Truth, see Arcana Coelestia 886 Arcana Coelestia 886[1-2], 4638; a "crown of gold" upon the head [is wisdom, and] has a similar signification, n. 9930; a "sceptre", which is a staff, is the power of Truth from Good, Arcana Coelestia 4581, 4876; the "robe", divine Truths in the spiritual kingdom, 9825; and "purple", the spiritual love of Good, 9467 ; a "throne", the kingdom of Truth derived from Good, 5315, 6397; "silver", that Truth itself, 1551, 1552; and a "white horse", the understanding illustrated therefrom, as may be seen in the work concerning the White Horse 1-5. (See also above, Chapter 31:1, the Exposition.) That rituals about the coronation of "kings" involve such things, but that the knowledge thereof is at this day lost, see also Arcana Coelestia 4581, 4966. Apocalypse Explained 31.

24. Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? or shall the captivity of the just be delivered?

25. Yea, thus says Jehovah, Even the captivity of the mighty shall be taken away, and the spoil of the terrible shall be delivered: for with him that contends with you I will contend, and your sons I will save.

Verses 24, 25. These words treat of the Lord, and of the bringing back of the sons of Zion from captivity, but by the "sons of Zion" are meant those who are in love to the Lord, and thence in Truths. That they were secluded from Truths by those who strenuously confirmed falsities, and that still they were liberated by the Lord, is signified by " Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? or shall the captivity of the just be delivered? Yea, thus says Jehovah, Even the captivity of the mighty shall be taken away, and the spoil of the terrible shall be delivered: for with him that contends with you I will contend, and your sons I will save." Apocalypse Explained 811.

[The "prey of the mighty", the "captivity of the just", and the "spoil of the terrible", would seem specifically to denote those who are held captive in the lower earth of the spiritual world, or in vastations, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, "went to preach"; (1 Peter 3:19) and whom He delivered from those who are here called the "mighty" and the "terrible", that is, the evils and falsities by which they had been held captive. The "captivity of the just" denotes those who, although in false principles, were nevertheless in good intentions, of which "justice" is here predicated. See, as to the further meaning of "vastations", and the nature of those who undergo them, Chapter 24:22, the Exposition.]

26. And I will feed thine oppressors with their own flesh; and with their own blood, as with new wine, shall they be drunken: and all flesh shall know that I Jehovah am your Saviour, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Verse 26. That by "flesh", in a bad sense, is signified the proprium of man's will which, viewed in itself, is evil, may appear from the above and from the following passages:

"A man shall eat the flesh of his own arm." (Isaiah 9:20)

And in Jeremiah:

"I will feed you with the flesh of their sons, and with the flesh of their daughters; and they shall devour every man the flesh of his companion." (Jeremiah 19:9)

And in Zechariah: "The rest shall eat everyone the flesh of another." (Zechariah 11:9) Apocalypse Explained 1082. See Chapter 9:19-21, the Exposition.

To "feed oppressors with their own flesh" is to feed thrm with their own evil. Arcana Coelestia 8409.

---
Isaiah Chapter 49.

1. ATTEND, O islands, unto Me; and hearken, you peoples, from afar: Jehovah has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has He made mention of my name.

2. And He has set my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand has He concealed me, and He has made me a polished shaft; in His quiver has He hid me;

3. And He has said unto me, You art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

4. And I said, I have laboured in vain; for nought, and for vanity, I have spent my strength: nevertheless my judgment is with Jehovah, and the recompense of my work with my God.

5. And now [thus] says Jehovah, my Former from the womb to be His servant, to bring back Jacob unto Him, and that Israel unto Him may be gathered: then shall I be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah, and my God will be my strength:

6. And He said, It is a light thing that You should be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: [but] I will also give You for a light to the nations, to be My salvation to the end of the earth.

7. Thus says Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One; to Him who is despised in soul, whom the nation abhorreth; to the Servant of rulers: Kings shall see Him, and shall rise up; princes also, and they shall bow themselves down; for the sake of Jehovah, who is faithful; of the Holy One of Israel, for He has chosen You.

8. Thus says Jehovah, In the time of acceptance have I answered You, and in the day of salvation have I helped You; and I will preserve You, and give You for a covenant of the people; to restore the land, to give possession of the desolate heritages:

9. Saying to the prisoners, Go forth; to those that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and on all the eminences shall be their pasture.

10. They shall not hunger, neither shall they thirst; neither shall, the heat nor the sun smite them: for He that has mercy on them shall lead them, and, shall guide them to springs of water.

11. And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted.

12. Lo! these shall come from afar; and lo! these from the north and from the sea; and these from the land of Sinim.

13. Sing, O you heavens; and rejoice, O earth; you mountains, break forth into song: for Jehovah has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.

14. But Zion says, Jehovah has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me,

15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, these may forget; but I will not forget you.

16. Behold, on the palms of My hands have I graven you; your walls are continually before Me.

17. They shall hasten your sons; your destroyers and your devastators shall depart from you.

18. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all these gather themselves together, they come to you. As I live, says Jehovah, surely you shalt clothe yourself with them all, as with an ornament; and shalt bind them on you, as a bride [her jewels],

19. For your wastes and your desolate places, and the land of your destruction, shall even now be too narrow for the inhabitants; and they that swallowed you up shall be far away.

20. The sons, of whom you wast bereaved, shall yet say in thine ears, This place is too narrow for me; make room for me that I may dwell.

21. And you shalt say in thine heart, Who has begotten me these? I was bereaved [of my sons], and solitary; an exile, and an outcast; and these, who has nourished them up? Lo! I was forsaken, and alone; these, where were they?

22. Thus says the Lord Jehovih, Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and to the peoples will I exalt My standard: and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be borne on their shoulder.

23. And kings shall be your nursing fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers: with their faces to the earth they shall bow down unto you, and shall lick the dust of your feet; and you shalt know that I am Jehovah, and that they who trust in Me shall not be ashamed.

24. Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? or shall the captivity of the just be delivered?

25. Yea, thus says Jehovah, Even the captivity of the mighty shall be taken away, and the spoil of the terrible shall be delivered: for with him that contends with you I will contend, and your sons I will save.

26. And I will feed thine oppressors with their own flesh; and with their own blood, as with new wine, shall they be drunken: and all flesh shall know that I Jehovah am your Saviour, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 49


Other references to this text:

Arcana Coelestia 666, 5037, 5201, 6078, 6804, 6854, 7051, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 99, 285, 382, 383, 413, 529

Doctrine of Life 60

True Christian Religion 285, 730


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 295, 304, 433, 471, 481, 482, 526, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 212

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 19

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  PDF Resources  (see all)


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Isaiah 42:6, 7, 54:3, 61:2, 4

Ezekiel 34:13

Zechariah 9:11, 12

Luke 4:18

John 10:9

2 Corinthians 6:2

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