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)

From Swedenborg's Works

 

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine #121

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine (Whitehead translation)      

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121. Faith separate from love or charity is like the light of winter, in which all things on earth are torpid, and no harvests, fruits, or flowers, are produced; but faith with love or charity is like the light of spring and summer, in which all things flourish and are produced (n. 2231, 3146, 3412, 3413). The wintry light of faith separate from charity is changed into dense darkness when light from heaven flows in; and they who are in that faith then come into blindness and stupidity (n. 3412, 3413).

They who separate faith from charity, in doctrine and life, are in darkness, thus in ignorance of truth, and in falsities, for these are darkness (n. 9186). They cast themselves into falsities, and into evils thence (n. 3325, 8094). The errors and falsities into which they cast themselves (n. 4721, 4730, 4776, 4783, 4925, 7779, 8313, 8765, 9224). The Word is shut to them (n. 3773, 4783, 8780). They do not see or attend to all those things which the Lord so often spoke concerning love and charity, and concerning their fruits, or goods in act, concerning which (n. 1017, 3416). Neither do they know what good is, nor thus what celestial love is, nor what charity is (n. 2517, 3603, 4136, 9995).

Faith separate from charity is no faith (n. 654, 724, 1162, 1176, 2049, 2116, 2343, 2349, 2417, 3849, 3868, 6348, 7039, 7342, 9783). Such a faith perishes in the other life (n. 2228, 5820). When faith alone is assumed as a principle, truths are contaminated by the falsity of the principle (n. 2335). Such persons do not suffer themselves to be persuaded, because it is against their principle (n. 2385). Doctrinals concerning faith alone destroy charity (n. 6353, 8094). They who separate faith from charity were represented by Cain, by Ham, by Reuben, by the firstborn of the Egyptians, and by the Philistines (n. 3325, 7097, 7317, 8093).

They who make faith alone saving, excuse a life of evil, and they who are in a life of evil have no faith, because they have no charity (n. 3865, 7766, 7778, 7790, 7950, 8094). They are inwardly in the falsities of their own evil, although they do not know it (n. 7790, 7950). Therefore good cannot be conjoined with them (n. 8981, 8983). In the other life they are against good, and against those who are in good (n. 7097, 7127, 7317, 7502, 7545, 8096, 8313). Those who are simple in heart and yet wise, know what the good of life is, thus what charity is, but not what faith separate is (n. 4741, 47 4754).

All things of the church have relation to good and truth, consequently to charity and faith (n. 7752-7754). The church is not with man before truths are implanted in his life, and thus become the good of charity (n. 3310). Charity constitutes the church, and not faith separate from charity (n. 809, 916, 1798, 1799, 1834, 1844). The internal of the church is charity (n. 1799, 7755). Hence there is no church where there is no charity (n. 4766, 5826). The church would be one if all were regarded from charity, although men might differ as to the doctrinals of faith and the rituals of worship (n. 1285[1-3], 1316, 1798, 1799, 1834, 1844, 2385, 2982, 3267, 3451). How much of good would be in the church if charity were regarded in the first place, and faith in the second (n. 6269, 6272). Every church begins from charity, but in process of time turns aside to faith, and at length to faith alone (n. 1834, 1835, 2231, 4683, 8094). There is no faith at the last time of the church, because there is no charity (n. 1843). The worship of the Lord consists in a life of charity (n. 8254, 8256) The quality of the worship is according to the quality of the charity (n. 2190). The men of the external church have an internal if they are in charity (n. 1100, 1102, 1151, 1153). The doctrine of the ancient churches was the doctrine of life, which is the doctrine of charity, and not the doctrine of faith separate (n. 2385, 2417, 3419, 3420, 4844, 6628, 7259-7262).

The Lord inseminates and implants truth in the good of charity when he regenerates man (n. 2063, 2189, 3310). Otherwise the seed, which is the truth of faith, cannot take root (n. 880). Then goods and truths increase, according to the quality and quantity of the charity received (n. 1016). The light of a regenerate person is not from faith, but from charity by faith (n. 854). The truths of faith, when man is regenerated, enter with the delight of affection, because he loves to do them, and they are reproduced with the same affection, because they cohere (n. 2484, 2487, 3040, 3066, 3074, 3336, 4018, 5893).

They who live in love to the Lord, and in charity towards the neighbor, lose nothing to eternity, because they are conjoined to the Lord; but it is otherwise with those who are in separate faith (n. 7506, 7507). Man remains such as is his life of charity, not such as his faith separate (n. 8256). All the states of delight of those who have lived in charity, return in the other life, and are increased immensely (n. 823). Heavenly blessedness flows from the Lord into charity, because into the very life of man; but not into faith without charity (n. 2363). In heaven all are regarded from charity, and none from faith separate (n. 1258, 1394). All are associated in the heavens according to their loves (n. 7085). No one is admitted into heaven by thinking, but by willing good (n. 2401, 3459). Unless doing good is conjoined with willing good and with thinking good, there is no salvation, neither any conjunction of the internal man with the external (n. 3987). The Lord, and faith in Him, are received by no others in the other life, than those who are in charity (n. 2343).

Good is in the perpetual desire and consequent endeavor of conjoining itself with truths, and charity with faith (n. 9206, 9207, 9495). The good of charity acknowledges its own truth of faith, and the truth of faith its own good of charity (n. 2429, 3101, 3102, 3161, 3179, 3180, 4358, 5807, 5835, 9637). Hence there is a conjunction of the truth of faith and the good of charity, concerning which (n. 3834, 4096, 4097, 4301, 4345, 4353, 4364, 4368, 5365, 7623-7627, 7752-7762, 8530, 9258, 10555). Their conjunction is like a marriage (n. 1904, 2173, 2508). The law of marriage is that two be one, according to the Word of the Lord (n. 10130, 1 0168, 10169). So also faith and charity (n. 1094, 2173, 2503). Therefore faith which is faith, is, as to its essence, charity (n. 2228, 2839, 3180, 9783). As good is the esse of a thing, and truth the existere thence, so also is charity the esse of the church, and faith the existere thence (n. 3409, 3180, 4574, 5002, 9145). The truth of faith lives from the good of charity, thus a life according to the truths of faith is charity (n. 1589, 1947, 2571, 4070, 4096, 4097, 4736, 4757, 4884, 5147, 5928, 9154, 9667, 9841, 10729). Faith cannot be given but in charity, and if not in charity, there is not good in faith (n. 2261, 4368). Faith does not live with man when he only knows and thinks the things of faith, but when he wills them, and from will does them (n. 9224).

There is no salvation by faith, but by a life according to the truths of faith, which life is charity (n. 379, 389, 2228, 4663, 4721). They are saved who think from the doctrine of the church that faith alone saves, if they do what is just for the sake of justice, and good for the sake of good, for thus they are still in charity (n. 2442, 3242, 3459, 3463, 7506, 7507). If a mere cogitative faith could save, all would be saved (n. 2361, 10659). Charity constitutes heaven with man, and not faith without it (n. 351 3, 3584, 3815, 9832, 10 714, 10715, 10721, 10724). In heaven all are regarded from charity, and not from faith (n. 1258, 1394, 2361, 4802). The conjunction of the Lord with man is not by faith, but by a life according to the truths of faith (n. 9380, 10143, 10153, 103 10310, 10578, 10645, 10648). The Lord is the tree of life, the goods of charity the fruits, and faith the leaves (n. 3427, 9337). Faith is the "lesser luminary," and good the "larger luminary" (n. 30-38).

The angels of the Lord's celestial kingdom do not know what faith is, so that they do not even name it, but the angels of the Lord's spiritual kingdom speak of faith, because they reason concerning truths (n. 202, 203, 337, 2715, 3246, 4448, 9166, 10786). The angels of the Lord's celestial kingdom say only yea, yea or nay, nay, but the angels of the Lord's spiritual kingdom reason whether it be so or not so, when there is discourse concerning spiritual truths, which are of faith (n. 2715, 3246, 4448, 9166, 10786), where the Lord's words are explained:

Let your discourse be yea, yea, nay, nay; what is beyond these is from evil (Matt. 5:37).

The reason why the celestial angels are such, is, because they admit the truths of faith immediately into their lives, and do not deposit them first in the memory, as the spiritual angels do; and hence the celestial angels are in the perception of all things of faith (n. 202, 5 85, 597, 607, 784 1 121, 1387, 1398, 1442, 1919, 5113, 5897, 6367, 7680, 7877, 8521, 8780, 9936, 9995, 10124).

Trust or confidence, which in an eminent sense is called saving faith, is given with those only who are in good as to life, consequently with those who are in charity (n. 298 2982, 4352, 4683, 4689, 7762, 8240, 9239-9245). Few know what that confidence is (n. 3868, 4352).

What difference there is between believing those things which are from God, and believing in God (n. 9239, 9243). It is one thing to know, another to acknowledge, and another to have faith (n. 896, 4319, 5664). There are scientifics of faith, rationals of faith and spirituals of faith (n. 2504, 80 8078). The first thing is the acknowledgment of the Lord (n. 10083). All that flows in with man from the Lord is good (n. 1614, 2016, 2751, 2882, 2883, 2891, 2892,2904, 6193, 7643, 9128).

There is a persuasive faith, which nevertheless is not faith (n. 2343, 2682, 2689, 3427, 3865, 8148).

It appears from various reasonings as though faith were prior to charity, but this is a fallacy (n. 3324). It may be known from the light of reason, that good, consequently charity, is in the first place, and truth, consequently faith, in the second (n. 3324-6273). Good, or charity, is actually in the first place, or is the first of the church, and truth, or faith, is in the second place, or is the second of the church, although it appears otherwise (n. 3324, 3325, 3330, 3336, 3494, 3539, 3548, 3556, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3701, 3995, 4337, 4601, 4925, 4926, 4928, 4930, 5351, 6256, 6269, 6272, 6273, 8042, 8080, 10110). The ancients disputed concerning the first or primogeniture of the church, whether it be faith or whether it be charity (n. 367[1-2], 2435, 3324).

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 20, 84, 136, 142, 154, 155, 204, 210, 227, 250, 329


   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

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


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