Summary Psalm 23:
David praises the Lord for his faithfulness. David wants nothing. God restores his soul; God guides him; God takes away his fear; God comforts him; God gives him an abundant life. Goodness and love will follow him, and he will dwell with God forever.
Summary Psalm 36:
The wicked do not fear God. They do not know they sin. The plot evil, do wrong, and follow a sinful course. God’s love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice is unfailing. Men find refuge in God’s wings. In God’s light we see His love. God overcomes all evildoers.
BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 12, Day 5: Psalm 23 and 36:
13) “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me…surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” All of these. Guiding my life. Restoring me when I’m empty inside. Granting me rest when I am weary. Leading me on the path of righteousness. Dwelling with him forever. Love is with me every day.
14) Personal Question. My answer: David about sums it up perfectly. Most unbelievers don’t know they sin and don’t care. They plot evil, have no moral compass, and don’t fear God. But God will overcome. Sin does breed sin and perpetuates and is ignored.
15) Personal Question. My answer: David knows God overcomes all and is in control. His love is bountiful, and He grants us abundance. We will have hardships, but He is our shepherd, guiding us to Him. It’s good to know God is in charge and to rely on Him completely when the hardships come.
Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 12, Day 5: Psalm 23 and Psalm 36:
With arguably the most famous Psalm in the Bible as out study, BSF doesn’t dive into it enough. So much comfort, goodness, and wonder woven in Psalm 23. Please see End Notes for complete discussion of David’s heart and beauty in this amazing Psalm.
See this great summary video of the book of 1 Samuel HERE
End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 12, Day 5 : Psalm 23 & 36:
Commentary Psalm 23:
This beloved Psalm bears the simple title, A Psalm of David. Scholars believe this psalm is a remembrance of David’s youth when he was a shepherd. Spurgeon wrote, “I like to recall the fact that this Psalm was written by David, probably when he was a king. He had been a shepherd, and he was not ashamed of his former occupation.”
This famous psalm has been the last words of thousands before they left this side of heaven.
Where is the Lord a shepherd in the Bible?
- A shepherd to Moses, the Stone of Israel (Genesis 49:24).
- In Psalm 28:9 David invited the LORD to shepherd the people of Israel, and to bear them up forever.
- Psalm 80:1 the LORD as the Shepherd of Israel, who would lead Joseph like a flock.
- Ecclesiastes 12:11 speaks of the words of the wise, which are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.
- Isaiah 40:11 tells us that the LORD will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm.
- Micah 7:14 invites the LORD to Shepherd Your people with Your staff… As in days of old.
- Zechariah 13:7 speaks of the Messiah as the Shepherd who will be struck, and the sheep scattered (quoted in Matthew 26:31).
- John 10:11 and 10:14 Jesus clearly spoke of Himself as the good shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep and who can say, “I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
- Hebrews 13:20 speaks of Jesus as that great Shepherd of the sheep
- 1 Peter 2:25 calls Jesus the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls
- 1 Peter 5:4 calls Jesus the Chief Shepherd
Ancient Middle Eastern cultures thought of their kings as shepherds as well.
The idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd was precious to early Christians. One of the more common motifs in catacomb paintings is Jesus as a shepherd with a lamb carried across His shoulders.
It’s remarkable that the LORD would call Himself our shepherd. “In Israel, as in other ancient societies, a shepherd’s work was considered the lowest of all works. If a family needed a shepherd, it was always the youngest son, like David, who got this unpleasant assignment.” (Boice)
“David uses the most comprehensive and intimate metaphor yet encountered in the Psalms, preferring usually the more distant ‘king’ or ‘deliverer’, or the impersonal ‘rock’, ‘shield’, etc.; whereas the shepherd lives with his flock and is everything to it: guide, physician and protector.” (Kidner)
“A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly as David did, that we belong to the Lord. There is a noble tone of confidence about this sentence. There is no ‘if’ nor ‘but,‘ nor even ‘I hope so;’ but he says, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’” (Spurgeon)
“The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, ‘My.‘ He does not say, ‘The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock,’ but ‘The Lord is my shepherd;’ if he be a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me.” (Spurgeon)
The idea behind God’s role as shepherd is a loving care and concern. David found comfort and security in the thought that God cared for him like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
David felt that he needed a shepherd. The heart of this Psalm doesn’t connect with the self-sufficient. But those who acutely sense their need – the poor in spirit Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3) – find great comfort in the idea that God can be a shepherd to them in a personal sense.
“A sheep, saith Aristotle, is a foolish and sluggish creature… aptest of anything to wander, though it feel no want, and unablest to return… a sheep can make no shift to save itself from tempests or inundation; there it stands and will perish, if not driven away by the shepherd.” (Trapp)
“I shall not want”
- “All my needs are supplied by the LORD, my shepherd.”
- “I decide to not desire more than what the LORD, my shepherd, gives.
Sheep don’t always know what it needs and what is best for itself, and so needs the help from the shepherd.
Sheep lie down (rest) only when it is without fear, friction, flies, and famine.
Restores may picture the rescue of a lost one. “It may picture the straying sheep brought back, as in Isaiah 49:5, or perhaps Psalm 60:1 (Hebrew 60:3), which use the same verb, whose intransitive sense is often ‘repent’ or ‘be converted’ (eg. Hosea 14:1f.; Joel 2:12).” (Kidner)
“In Hebrew the words ‘restores my soul’ can mean ‘brings me to repentance’ (or conversion).” (Boice)
The shepherd would guide the sheep to what he needed.
The valley of the shadow of death
- A valley is a low point — not the exhilaration of a mountaintop
- Death — the ultimate end
- Shadow — not death itself but the lurking evil in his path
David walks through the shadow of death; it is not his destination or dwelling place. In fact, it is only the Lord’s presence that makes this bearable.
We face only the shadow of death because Jesus took death itself for us.
Those facing death have been comforted, strengthened, and warmed by the thought that the LORD will shepherd them through the valley of the shadow of death.
Light must exist in order to cast a shadow. God as light is casting the shadow; all we do is walk through it to Him
Evil still lurks, but we do not fear it for the shepherd is with us. It is at this moment that the “He” of Psalm 23:1-3 changes to “You.” The LORD as Shepherd is now in the first person.
The rod and staff
The rod and the staff were instruments used by a shepherd. The idea is a sturdy walking stick, which was used to gently guide the sheep and to protect them from potential predators.
There is some debate among commentators as to if David had the idea of two separate instruments (the rod and the staff), or one instrument used two ways. The Hebrew word for rod (shaybet) here seems to simply mean “a stick” with a variety of applications. The Hebrew word for staff (mishaynaw) seems to speak of “a support” in the sense of a walking stick.
Kidner notes: “The rod (a cudgel worn at the belt) and staff (to walk with, and to round up the flock) were the shepherd’s weapon and implement: the former for defence (cf. 1 Samuel 17:35), and the latter for control – since discipline is security.”
Maclaren writes: “The rod and the staff seem to be two names for one instrument, which was used both to beat off predatory animals and to direct the sheep.”
Either way you look at it, the rod and staff was a comfort to David, knowing God guided him and corrected him.
The significance of the table
- Table is bounty
- Prepare is foresight and care
- Before me is personal attention
- Presence of enemies is always overcoming obstacles
“Here the second allegory begins. A magnificent banquet is provided by a most liberal and benevolent host; who has not only the bounty to feed me, but power to protect me; and, though surrounded by enemies, I sit down to this table with confidence, knowing that I shall feast in perfect security.” (Clarke)
In the Old Testament world, to eat and drink at someone’s table created a bond of mutual loyalty, and could be the culminated token of a covenant.
Mercy is the covenant-word rendered ‘steadfast love’ elsewhere. Together with goodness it suggests the steady kindness and support that one can count on in the family or between firm friends.” (Kidner)
Commentary Psalm 36:
This Psalm is titled, To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD. Psalm 18 is the only other Psalm that uses the phrase “the servant of the LORD” in the title. Bible scholar Trapp observed that Psalm 18 comes from David’s old age and Psalm 36 from a younger David. From youth to old age, David was the servant of the LORD and “He took more pleasure in the names of duty than of dignity.” (Trapp)
An oracle of transgression could mean David were divinely taught by the sins of others or it’s the voice within a sinner.
It is likely that Paul had this Psalm in mind as he composed the opening chapters of his great letter since he quotes verse 1 in Romans 3:18.
The wicked thinks of himself much more highly than he should both in regard to his sins (his iniquity) and his prejudices (hates). Flattery can be us thinking we are more than we actually are; it doesn’t have to come from others.
How does one flatter himself with regards to sin?
Matthew Poole elaborates:
- Sins “are not sins, which a mind bribed by passion and interest can easily believe.”
- Sins “are but small and venial sins.”
- Sins “will be excused, if not justified by honest intentions, or by outward professions and exercise of religion, or by some good actions, wherewith he thinks to make some compensation for them or some other way.”
“The phrase ‘on his bed’ is parallel with ‘on the way’. The ungodly considers evil both in his lying down and in his walking.” (VanGemeren)
Sin is found in what we don’t do as well as in what we do.
The translation of mercy here is inconsistent for the same Hebrew word hesed is translated as loving kindness is both Psalm 36:7 and 36:10. This wonderful word speaks of God’s love and mercy, but especially to His covenant people.
David can only describe these attributes of God with the biggest things he can think of – the heavens, the clouds that fill the sky, the great mountains, and the great deep of the sea.
“The word precious establishes the change from the immense to the intimate and personal.” (Kidner)
Loving kindness in verse 5 1s too great to grasp and in verse 7 is too good to let slip. (Kidner)
What does shadow of Your wings mean?
Bible commentators see the shadow of Your wings 2 ways:
- The wings of the cherubim that are over the throne of God and represented in His tabernacle and temple, including the ark of the covenant, the very representation of His throne.
- Like a mother hen covering her young chicks under her wings to protect, hide, and shelter them.
I’m inclined to think both.
The word fullness here is literally fatness. “The fattest is esteemed the fairest and the most excellent food; therefore the saint was enjoined to offer the fat in sacrifice under the law. As God expects the best from us, so he gives the best to us.” (Swinnock, cited in Spurgeon)
The fullness (abundance) of your house is will one of our great joys in heaven when we come to our Father’s house. With unmeasured satisfaction we will have the right to roam heaven and say, “Is this ours? And is this ours?” and say it unto eternity.
River of delight/pleasures: “Possibly a reference to Eden may be intended in the selection of the word for ‘pleasures,’ which is a cognate with that name.” (Maclaren)
What does “in your light we see light” mean?
We see light twice: light discovering and light being discovered and enjoyed.
Light is invisible by itself. Everything is invisible until light strikes it. So it is with God: we can’t see Him, but “in his light” (under his loving influence), we see and understand His love in all that surrounds us. God’s overwhelming generosity stands in complete contrast to the self-important plotting of wicked humans.
John wrote in the opening words of his Gospel: He was the true Light which gives light to every man (John 1:9). “It is hard to doubt that John was thinking of Psalm 36:9 as he composed the prelude.” (Boice)
“The Hebrew is, draw forth, or draw out thy lovingkindness: a metaphor either taken from vessels of wine, which being set abroach once, yield not only one cup, but many cups; so when God setteth abroach the wine of his mercy, he will not fill your cup once, but twice and seven times” (Greenhill, cited in Spurgeon).
Unlike the righteous who may fall seven times yet rise up again (Proverbs 24:16), the workers of iniquity remain in the dust as God protects His servants.
‘They are struck down,’ (thrown down) is the same word as in the picture of the pursuing angel of the Lord in Psalm 35.” (Maclaren)
THERE: Some scholars think it refers to the pride mentioned in the previous verse, others to the place where the workers of iniquity practiced their sin.