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...

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...

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

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...

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...

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...

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....

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...

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...

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

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

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...

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...

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...

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

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...

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...

'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...

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 #594

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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594. Encompassed with a cloud, signifies the ultimate of the Word. This is evident from the signification of "encompassed," as being by what is outside of one, for that which is round about is also without, for it is more remote in the circumference; so here it means the ultimate. Also from the signification of a "cloud," as being Divine truth in ultimates, consequently the Word in the sense of the letter. This signification of "cloud" is evident from appearances in the spiritual world; also from the Word wherever "clouds" are mentioned. From appearances in the spiritual world, as follows: the universal angelic heaven consists solely of the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord; the reception of this constitutes angels. In the highest heaven this truth appears like a pure aura which is called ether; in the next lower heaven as less pure, almost like the atmosphere that is called air; in the lowest heaven it appears like something thinly aqueous over which is a vapor like a cloud; such is the appearance of Divine truth according to degrees in its descent. There is a like appearance when angels of the higher heavens speak about Divine truths; what they say is then presented to the view of those who are in the lowest heaven under the appearance of a cloud that floats hither and thither; the more intelligent of them know from its movement and brightness and form what the angels of the higher heavens are speaking about with each other. This makes evident why a "cloud" signifies Divine truth in ultimates. As most things in the Word were taken from the appearances in the spiritual world, and thence have a like significance as they have there, so is it with "clouds."

(References: Revelation 10:1)

[2] That a "cloud" signifies in the Word the sense of the letter, which is Divine truth in ultimates, can be seen from the following passages. In the Gospels:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John into a high mountain; and He was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became as the light. And behold, there appeared Moses and Elijah speaking with Him. While Peter was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him (Matthew 17:1-10; Mark 9:1-11).

And in Luke:

While Peter thus spake there came a cloud and overshadowed them; hence they feared as they entered into the cloud. But there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son; hear ye Him (Luke 9:34, 35).

In this transfiguration the Lord represented Divine truth, which is the Word; for the Lord, when He was in the world, made His Human Divine truth, and when He went out of the world He made His Human Divine good by uniting it with the Divine Itself, that was in Him from conception. (That the Lord made His Human Divine truth when He was in the world, and afterwards Divine good, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem 303-306; and that the Lord is the Word, n. 263.) Consequently the particular things that were seen when He was transfigured signify the proceeding of Divine truth from the Lord's Divine good. The Divine good of Divine love which was in Him, and from which He had Divine truth in His Human, was represented by "His face did shine as the sun;" for the "face" represents the interiors, since these shine forth through the face; and the "sun" signifies the Divine love (see above, n. 401, 412). The Divine truth was represented by the "garments" which became as the light; "garments" in the Word signify truths, and "the Lord's garments" Divine truth (see also above, n. 64, 271, 395); this is why they appeared "as the light;" for Divine truth makes the light in the angelic heaven, and is therefore signified by "light" in the Word (respecting which see in the work on Heaven and Hell 126-140). Because it was the Word, which is Divine truth, that was represented, therefore "there appeared Moses and Elijah speaking with Him;" "Moses and Elijah" signifying the Word; "Moses" the historical Word, and "Elijah" the prophetical Word. The Word in the letter was represented by the "cloud that overshadowed the disciples, and into which they entered;" for the "disciples" represented in the Word the church, which at that time and afterwards was only in truths from the sense of the letter; and because, as has been said in the article above, revelations and responses are made by Divine truth in ultimates, and because this truth is such as is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, it came to pass that "a voice was heard out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him," meaning that He is Divine truth, or the Word.

(References: Luke 9:34-35; Mark 9:1-10; Matthew 17:1-5; The Apocalypse Explained 64, The Apocalypse Explained 271, 395, 401, 412)

[3] He who does not know that a "cloud" in the spiritual sense of the Word means the Word in the letter, cannot know what arcanum is involved in this:

That in the consummation of the age they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; 14:61, 62; Luke 21:27).

And in Revelation:

Behold, Jesus Christ cometh with the clouds and every eye shall see Him (Genesis 1:7).

And again:

I saw, and behold a white cloud, and on the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man (Numbers 14:14).

And in Daniel:

I was seeing in the night visions, and behold, there was coming with the clouds of the heavens one like the Son of man (Daniel 7:13).

He who is ignorant that "the clouds of heaven" signify the truths of the Word in the sense of the letter, cannot know otherwise than that in the consummation of the age, that is, in the end of the church, the Lord is to come in the clouds of heaven, and manifest Himself to the world; but it is well known that since the Word was given, the Lord manifests Himself through that only, for the Word, which is Divine truth, is the Lord Himself in heaven and in the church. From this it can now be seen that the manifestation here predicted signifies His manifestation in the Word; and His manifestation in the Word was effected through His opening and revealing the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, for in that sense is the Divine truth itself, such as it is in heaven, and the Divine truth in heaven is the Lord Himself there. This makes clear that "the Lord's coming in the clouds of heaven with glory" signifies the revelation of Him in the sense of the letter of the Word from its spiritual sense. "The clouds of heaven" signify the things belonging to the sense of the letter, and "glory" signifies those belonging to the spiritual sense (see in the work on Heaven and Hell 1), also the revelation itself of the spiritual sense (in the small work on The White Horse); "Son of man" also signifies the Lord in relation to Divine truth (as may be seen above, n. 63, 151).

(References: Mark 14:61-62; Revelation 1:7, Revelation 14:14; The Apocalypse Explained 63, The Apocalypse Explained 151)

[4] That a "cloud" signifies Divine truth in ultimates, consequently the Word in the sense of the letter, can be seen further from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a light cloud, and cometh into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt are moved before Him, and the heart of the Egyptian melteth in the midst of him (19 Isaiah 19:1).

"Egypt" here does not mean Egypt, but the natural man when separated from the spiritual, which is then in falsities and evils, and through these perverts all the truths and goods of the church; that the natural man is destroyed by these falsities and evils when truth from good flows in from the Lord is described by these words of the prophet understood in the internal sense. Jehovah is said "to ride upon a light cloud" to signify that the Lord enlightens the understanding with truths; "to ride" in reference to Jehovah or the Lord, signifying to enlighten the understanding, and "a light cloud" signifying truth; that then "the idols of Egypt are moved, and the heart of the Egyptian melteth," signifies that the evils and falsities of the natural man, separated from the spiritual, then destroy the natural man; "idols" meaning falsities, the "heart" evils, and "Egypt" the natural man.

[5] In Moses:

There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth in heaven and in His magnificence upon the clouds, the abode of the God of antiquity, and underneath are the arms of the world (Deuteronomy 33:26, 27).

Here, too, "riding in heaven upon the clouds" signifies to enlighten the understanding by the influx of spiritual truth into natural truth, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word. Because Divine truth in the heavens is spiritual, and Divine truth on the earth is natural, and the latter is enlightened by the former, therefore it is said, "and in His magnificence upon the clouds;" "the abode of the God of antiquity" means Divine truth with the angels, and "the arms of the world," mean Divine truths with men; the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word are what are meant by "the arms of the world," for that sense is the very strength of Divine truth, "arms" signifying strength. (That the strength of Divine truth is in the sense of the letter can be seen in the article just above.)

(References: Deuteronomy 33:26-27)

[6] In David:

God rode upon a cherub and did fly, and was borne upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place; His tent round about Him the darkness of waters, the clouds of the heavens. At the brightness before Him the clouds passed (Psalms 18:10-12).

This, too, describes the enlightenment of the Word, and thus of the church; enlightenment by the influx of Divine truth from the heavens is signified by "God rode upon a cherub and did fly;" Divine truth in ultimates which is enlightened is signified by "the wings of the wind," "the darkness of waters," and "the clouds of the heavens," these signifying the various degrees of the understanding receiving enlightenment; that the obscurities of the ultimate sense are thereby dissipated is meant by "at the brightness before Him the clouds passed."

[7] In the same:

Sing unto God, praise His name; extol Him that rideth upon the clouds (Psalms 68:4).

Here, too, "Him that rideth upon the clouds" means the Lord as to enlightenment; "clouds" meaning truths in ultimates, which are enlightened, and these are enlightened by the influx of light, which is Divine truth, from the spiritual world or heaven.

(References: Ezekiel 10:3-4)

[8] In Nahum:

Jehovah hath His way in the storm and in the tempest, and the clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3).

Truth in ultimates, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, is called "clouds, the dust of the feet of Jehovah," because it is the natural and lowest truth, into which Divine truth in heaven, which is spiritual, closes, and upon which it subsists. Divine truth in ultimates, because it is but little understood unless there is enlightenment from heaven, is a subject of discussion and controversy, and this is meant by "storm and tempest in which Jehovah hath His way," spiritual "storm and tempest" meaning discussion concerning the genuine sense, which nevertheless, with those who desire truth, the Lord enlightens by means of influx.

[9] In David:

His seed shall be to eternity, and His throne as the sun before Thee. 1 It shall be established as the moon to eternity, and as a faithful witness in the clouds (Psalms 89:36, 37).

This is said of the Lord, and the "seed that shall be to eternity" signifies Divine truth which is from Him. The "throne that shall be as the sun and as the moon" signifies heaven and the church as to the good of love and as to the truth of faith; "throne" signifying heaven and the church; "as the sun" in respect to the good of love, and "as the moon" in respect to the truth of faith. "A faithful witness in the clouds" signifies that He is Divine truth, for "witness" in reference to the Lord, signifies that which proceeds from Him, and as that is His, it witnesses respecting Him.

(References: Psalms 89:36-37)

[10] In the same:

Jehovah layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters; He maketh the cloud 2 His chariot; He walketh upon the wings of the wind (Psalms 104:3).

These few words describe heaven and the church, and at the same time doctrine from the Word. "He layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters" signifies that the Lord forms the heavens and the church from Divine truths; "waters" signify Divine truths; "Jehovah's chambers" signify the heavens and the church, and "to lay beams" signifies to form. "He maketh the clouds His chariot" signifies doctrine from ultimate Divine truths; "clouds" meaning ultimate Divine truths, such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word, and a "chariot" doctrine; this is said because every doctrine of the church is to be formed from and confirmed by the sense of the letter of the Word. "He walketh upon the wings of the wind" signifies the life which doctrine has from spiritual influx; "to walk" signifying to live, and in reference to the Lord life itself; "the wings of the wind" mean the spiritual things of the Word. (That "waters" signify truths, see above, n. 71, 483, 518, 537, 538.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 71, The Apocalypse Explained 483, The Apocalypse Explained 518, 537-538)

[11] In Isaiah:

I will lay waste My vineyard, I will even command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it (Isaiah 5:6).

This means that the church shall have no understanding of Divine truth or of the Word; "vineyard" signifying the church, "clouds" the Word in the letter, and "their raining no rain," that there shall be no understanding of Divine truth from the Word.

[12] In David:

Jehovah who covereth the heavens with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains (Psalms 147:8).

"To cover the heavens with clouds" signifies to defend and preserve the spiritual things of the Word which are in the heavens, by means of natural truths such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word; "who prepareth rain for the earth" signifies instruction therefrom for the church; "who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains" signifies nourishment thereby for those who are in the good of love.

[13] The like is signified by the following words in Isaiah:

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds stream down with righteousness; let the earth open and bring forth the fruit of salvation (Isaiah 45:8).

And in Judges:

Jehovah, when Thou didst go forth out of Seir, when Thou didst march out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, yea, the clouds dropped waters (Judges 5:4).

"To go forth out of Seir, and to march out of the field of Edom," signifies, in reference to Jehovah, the enlightenment of the Gentiles by the Lord when He assumed the Human; "the earth trembling" signifies the state of the church then changed; "the heavens dropped, and the clouds dropped waters," signifies instruction, influx, and perception of Divine truth; "to drop" signifying instruction and influx; "waters" truths; "the heavens" the interior things of truth, and "clouds," the exterior, such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word.

[14] In David:

The clouds poured out waters; the skies gave forth a voice, and Thine arrows went forth (Psalms 77:17).

"The clouds poured out waters" signifies that there are genuine truths from the sense of the letter of the Word; "the skies gave forth a voice" signifies influx from the heavens; "Thine arrows went forth" signifies Divine truths therefrom. In Job:

God bindeth up the waters in His clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them. He spreadeth His cloud upon His throne (Job 26:8, 9).

Here, too, "clouds" stand for truths ultimate in order, and because these contain in themselves and enclose spiritual truths that they may not be dispersed, this is described and signified by "God bindeth up the waters in His clouds, and the cloud is not rent;" because exterior truths, which are called natural, also encompass and enclose interior truths, which are called spiritual, and are proper to the angels of the heavens, this is described and signified by "He spreadeth His cloud upon His throne."

(References: Acts of the Apostles 26:8-9; Job 26:8-9)

[15] In Isaiah:

Jehovah said, I will be quiet, and I will behold in My dwelling place like clear heat upon light, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest (Isaiah 18:4);

a "cloud of dew" signifying truth bringing forth fruit from good. In the same:

Jehovah will create over every dwelling place of Mount Zion and upon her convocations a cloud by day, and a smoke and the brightness of a flame of fire by night; for over all the glory shall be a covering (Isaiah 4:5).

"The dwelling place of Mount Zion" signifies the good of the celestial church, and "her convocations" signify the truths of that good; protection lest it should be hurt by too much light or too much shade is signified by "a cloud by day and a smoke, and the brightness of a flame of fire by night," and as every spiritual good and truth is preserved from harm by natural good and truth, it is said that "upon all the glory shall be a covering," "glory" meaning spiritual good and truth.

[16] The same is signified by:

The cloud that was upon the tabernacle by day, and the fire by night (Exodus 40:36-38; Numbers 9:15-23to the end;Numbers 10:11, 12, 34;14:14;Deuteronomy 1:33).

Jehovah went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21).

The pillar of the cloud stood between the camp of the sons of Israel and the camp of the Egyptians (Exodus 14:19-21).

In David:

God led them in the daytime in a cloud, and all the night in the light of fire (Psalms 78:14).

And elsewhere in the same:

Egypt was glad when they went forth, for the dread of them had fallen upon them. He spread out a cloud for a covering, and fire to make light the night (Psalms 105:38, 39).

"There was a cloud upon the tabernacle by day, and a fire by night," because the "tabernacle" represented heaven and the church, the "cloud" the Lord's presence through Divine truth, and the "fire" His presence through Divine good, which is called the good of faith, each ultimate in order; therefore they were as coverings over the tabernacle; for this reason it is said in the passages cited above from Isaiah and David, "over all the glory shall be a covering," and "He spread out a cloud for a covering."

The like is signified by:

The cloud that covered Mount Horeb, into which cloud Moses entered (Exodus 24:15-18).

And the like by:

The cloud in which Jehovah came down upon Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16, 18; 34:5).

And the like by:

The pillar of cloud that stood at the door of Moses' tent (Exodus 33:9, 10).

(References: Exodus 19:9, Exodus 33:9-10; Numbers 10:11-12; Psalms 105:38-39)

[17] So again of the "cloud" in Ezekiel:

I looked, and behold a wind of a tempest came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself in itself, and a brightness round about it (Ezekiel 1:4).

And in the same:

The cherubim stood on the right side of the house when the man entered in; and the cloud filled the inner court; and the glory of Jehovah mounted up from above the cherub upon the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of Jehovah's glory (Ezekiel 10:3, 4).

The "cherubim" signify the Lord in respect to guarding, that there be no approach except through the good of love; so, too, the "cherubim" signify the heavens, in particular the inmost or third heaven, because the angels who are there receive Divine truth in the good of love, therefore it is Divine truth, which is in its essence the good of love, that guards. This Divine truth, as it comes down out of the inmost heaven into the lower heavens, and at length into the world where men are, from being pure becomes thus by degrees more dense, consequently in the lowest degree it appears like a cloud; this is why it signifies Divine truth accommodated to the apprehension of the angels who are in the lowest heaven, who are spiritual-natural, and finally to the apprehension of men in the natural world. Moreover, as Divine truth in this degree is similar to the Divine truth in the sense of the letter of the Word, "cloud" signifies the Word as to the sense of the letter. It was this Divine truth that filled the court like a cloud, and at length the house, at the right side of which stood the cherubim; and as this Divine truth is inwardly the spiritual that shines from heavenly light, therefore it is called "glory," and it is said that "the court was full of the brightness of Jehovah's glory." Also in Job:

When God maketh the light of His cloud to be bright (Job 37:15).

(References: Ezekiel 10:3-4)

[18] Because the higher heavens appear before the eyes of those who are in the lower heavens as covered by a light and bright cloud (for the reason that the lower angels are unable to see the higher or interior Divine otherwise than in accordance with their own quality), therefore also Divine truth in the higher heavens, or what is the same thing, the higher heavens themselves, are meant in some passages in the Word by "clouds;" for whether you say Divine truth or the heavens it is the same, since the heavens are heavens from Divine truth, and the angels there are angels from the reception of Divine truth. It is in this sense that "clouds" are mentioned in Isaiah:

Lucifer, thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend above the heights of the cloud; I will become like the Most High (14 :13, 14).

In Jeremiah:

Forsake Babylon, and let us go everyone into his own land; for her judgment hath reached even unto the heavens, and it hath lifted up itself even to the clouds (Jeremiah 51:9).

And in David:

Give ye strength unto God; His excellency is over Israel, and His strength is above the clouds (Psalms 68:34).

The same is here signified by "clouds" as:

By the waters above the expanse (Genesis 1:7).

And by the waters above the heavens (Psalms 148:4);

for clouds consist of water. That "waters" signify Divine truths may be seen above (n. 71, 483, 518).

(References: Isaiah 14:13-14, 14:14; The Apocalypse Explained 71, The Apocalypse Explained 483, 518)

[19] As there are clouds that are lighter and brighter, also clouds that are denser and blacker, and lighter and brighter clouds appear beneath the heavens, but dense and black clouds are seen about many of the hells, it is evident that "clouds" in the contrary sense signify the falsities of evil which are contrary to truths from good, as in the following passages. In Ezekiel:

Egypt a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity (Ezekiel 30:18).

He shall ascend like a cloud to cover the land (Ezekiel 38:9).

Sheep scattered in the day of cloud and thick darkness (Ezekiel 34:12).

So the Last Judgment, when those who are in the falsities of evil are to perish, is called:

A day of cloud and of obscurity (Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15).

The like is signified by:

The clouds and thick darkness that appeared to the sons of Israel when the law was given from Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:11, 12, 15; 5:22-26);

for although Jehovah, that is, the Lord, came down upon that mountain in a bright cloud, yet it appeared before the eyes of the people, who were in the falsities of evil, as a thick dark cloud (see Arcana Coelestia 1861, 6832, 8814, 8819, 9434, 10551).


1. Latin has "Thee," the Hebrew "Me," as found also in AE 205, 401, 684, 768.

2. Latin has "cloud," the Hebrew "clouds," as found in AE 26, 283, 319.


(References: Deuteronomy 4:11-12; Exodus 19:9; Isaiah 14:14; Matthew 17:1-5; Revelation 10:1)

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