Psalms 23 Commentary

Psalm 23 Divine shepherd and host

God’s relationship with his people is like that of a shepherd to his sheep. He provides what is best for them, refreshes them continually, and guides them in the way that he knows is right. In so doing he proves himself faithful to his own nature as the covenant God of his chosen people (1-3).


Despite God’s provision and guidance, there will be dangers along the way. But as a shepherd uses his club (rod) to beat off wild animals, and his crook (staff) to rescue the troubled sheep, so will God care for his people (4). Wild animals may surround them, but they can feed in safety under the protection of the heavenly shepherd. In view of God’s provision of the best food for those in his care, the picture changes from the divine shepherd to the divine host. God gives special attention to his guests, just as a host in ancient times gave special honour to a guest by anointing his head with oil. The guests in God’s house, however, never have to leave. They are with him for ever (5-6).

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