Yahweh is my shepherd; * I shall not lack. In fields of grass he will make me lie down; * near refreshing waters he will guide me, * to restore my being.
He will lead me to rich pastures, * as befits his name.
Even though I should walk * right through the shadow of death,
I shall fear no danger, * since you are with me.
Your rod and your staff * will surely lead me.
You prepare my table before me, * in front of my adversaries.
You anoint my head with oil; * my cup overflows.
Yes, goodness and kindness will attend me * all the days of my life.
I will live in the house of Yahweh * for all time to come.
1. A psalm for David.
23.0 The previous Psalm dealt with the benefits of Christ's Passion, namely his teaching and the Eucharist. Consequently, here is treated the bringing of the people of God from the state of sin, which is a spiritual Bablylon. This is presented under the symbolism of a people brought back from material slavery, since it follows upon the Passion, through the mediation of his teaching and sacrament. Also, the previous Psalm spoke of the Passion exhorting us to compassion with the one who suffered for us. This Psalm urges us to hope in the mercy of Christ already reigning. That is the proper order, because if we suffer with him, we will be gathered with him.
A brief title precedes the Psalm: A psalm for David. This alludes to the efficient cause of the Psalm, since the Gloss takes the author of the Psalm not as David, but the one in whose person David speaks, namely, the Church. So the idea is: This Psalm is attributed to David, that is, to the Church, which has a strong hand in active matters -Prov 31:10 Who can find a strong woman? It also has an attractive look in contemplative matters -Cant 2:14 Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is pleasant, and your sight delightful.
The Psalm can be divided into three parts: (1) The Church gives thanks for benefits ordered to the reception of goodness, (2) for benefits ordered to the removal of evil: "Even if I should walk", (3) The purpose of both benefits is noted: "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord". The first takes up four benefits ordered to the reception of goodness: (1) the grace that directs to goodness, showing the way to go, (2) grace that sustains and supplies what is necessary for the way: "I shall want nothing", (3) grace totally turning the vision of the mind to the goal, so that it will not desire anything else: "He converted my soul", (4) grace showing the conclusion, so that one may quickly go to the goal: "He led me on paths".
The Lord ruleth me:
Yahweh is my shepherd;
23:1.1 The idea is: The Lord rules me. If he speaks in the person of the Church, it is generally true that the Lord leads it (1) as a guide so that it will not go astray -Wis 10:10 Wisdom guides the just man on the right way. (2) as a light guiding someone walking in the dark, so that he will not go off the path. -John 8:12 Whoever follows me does not walk in darkness, but has the light of life. (3) as a shepherd guides his flock, so that it is not destroyed by wolves -Jer 17:16 I was not disturbed, following you a a shepherd (Vul), (4) as a captain guides a ship, so that it will not sink in the waves of this world -Wis 14:3 Your providence, Father, steers the ship, since you opened a pathway even throug the sea and a safe way over the waves. -Wis 14:6 In the beginning, when the proud giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft and, steered by your hand, preserved the seed of a new generatio for the ages to come, (5) as a teacher directs a class -Joel 3:23 Rejoice in Yahweh, your God, who gave you a teacher of righteousness, (6) as a king rules his kingdom or province -Rom 15:12 (=Is 10:11) The root of Jesse will arise to rule the nations, and in him the nations will hope, (7) or, as can be said of any just man, as a child guides a blind man -Job 29:15 I was eyes for the blind man. -Gen 37:30 The boy is no more, and where shall I go? (8) as a rider of a horse -Ps 73:22 I was a mere beast in your sight, (9) like a rein on praise -Is 48:9 For the sake of my honor, I will restrain (Vul) you, lest you perish, (10) like the poking stimuli of temptation -Ps 34:20 Many are the troubles of the just man.
and I shall want nothing.
I shall not lack.
23:1.2.1 Rather, he will support me abundantly on the way. -Thus the reading of Jerome and Augustine: The Lord shepherds me, and I will lack nothing. Mention is made of abundance of resources (1) in general, (2) specifically, (1) first with regard to food: "in a place of pasture", (2) secondly with regard to drink: "on the water". The idea is: He will lead me, showing me the way, and I will lack nothing, having an abundance of everything needed to support life -Luke 22:35 When I sent you without a sack or staff or shoes, did you lack anything? They answered No. -Chrysostom: God made everything else for the sake of man, and he made man for himself. Therefore he provides for those with [rational] souls for his own sake -Ps 145:16 You open your hand and fill every living thing with blessing. I will lack nothing in the future, because (Col 3:11) Christ will be everything and in everything. -Augustine: What can he lack who possesses the one who has everything? -Jud 18:10 When you get there, you will find a trusting people. The country is wide, and God has put it at your mercy. It is a place where there is no lack of anything on earth.
2. He hath set me in a place of pasture.
In fields of grass he will make me lie down;
23:220.127.116.11 Truly, I will need nothing, because I am in a place of pasture, that is, Scripture, where souls graze -Ez 3:2 He fed me with that volume. -Jerome to Florentium: You know that this is the food of the soul if it meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. -Deut 8:3 (= Mat 4:4) Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh. Note that pasture is good because of (1) fertility, (2) spaciousness, (3) quiet and (4) pleasantness -Ez 34:14 (1) I will pasture them in fertile pasture. (2) The highest mountains of Israel will be their grazing ground. (3) There they will rest in green grazing grounds. (4) They will browse in rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. This pasture is literally fertile, allegorically in the mountains, morally in green grass, anagogically in rich (oily) pasture. Truly, I can lack nothing in this pasture, because all life and all good is found there -Wis 7:11 All good things came to me together with her.
There he made me lie down, because no one can enter this pasture without God -Rev 5:3 No one in heaven or on earth or below the earth could open the book. -Rev 3:7 He opens an no one closes; he closes and no one opens.
He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment:
near refreshing waters he will guide me,
23:18.104.22.168 After talking about food, the Psalmist no talks about drink -Cant 5:1 Eat, my friends, and drink. Get drunk, my dear ones. -Sir 15:3 She will feed him the food of life and understanding, and let him drink the water of wisdom. This water is called "refreshing" because it not only quenches thirst, but also refreshes and nourishes the soul, just as some fish feed on water only according to the verses:
Four things live off pure elements:
The camelion, the frog, small fish of the sea, the salamander.
So a good theologian who immerses himself in divine Scripture and refreshes himself there is like a good fish of the sea -Hab 1:14 You make men like the fish of the sea. Or the refreshing water is the water of baptism, which is a re-making. As man is made bodily by nature, so he is made again spiritually by the water of baptism -John 3:5 Unless a man is born from water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It is also called "refreshing water" because immediately after an adult is baptized, he is given the Eucharist. Just as after washing hands one is given food, so after baptism one is given the body of Christ. So just as that water can be called "refreshing", so also the water of baptism -Is 55:1 All who are thirsty, come to the water, and you who have no money, come. Buy and eat.
3. He hath converted my soul.
to restore my being.
23:1.3 The idea is: He rules, sustains and nourishes me on the way, and also restores my soul, so that it may be totally intent upon him, with my will and intellect focused on him after the washing of my dry soul -Lam 5:21 Turn us, Yahweh, to you, and we will turn. -Hosea 14:2 Israel, turn to Yahweh, your God, for you have staggered under your guilt. -Lam 1:13 He stretched out a net of Sacred Scripture, which is the refreshing water, and pulled me back, that is, he converted my soul -Ps 19:8 The Law of Yahweh is perfect, refreshing my soul.
He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name's sake.
He will lead me to rich pastures, as befits his name.
23:1.4 This is the grace showing the conclusion [of life] and leading to it. The idea is: He rules and shepherds me and turns my soul to him, and besides that leads me on paths of justice, which are wider, because they are public roads -Prov 4:11 I led you through paths of equity. For the commandments are common, like public roads -Ps 119:32 I will run the way of your commandments. But there are more narrow paths; they are called paths (semitae) because they are semi-roads (semiviae) -Mat 7:11 Narrow is the way that leads to life, and few find it.
Paths can also mean divine counsels, because (1) they are hidden to many, just as paths are -Is 42:16 I will make them walk in ways they do not know. (2) They are clean, just as paths are clean -Is 35:8 It will be called a holy way, and the unclean may not pass on it. (3) They are more direct, leading more quickly to the kingdom of heaven -Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor of spirit; theirs is the kingdom. (4) They are narrow, and do not admit someone carrying big loads -Mat 19:21 If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you own and give it to the poor. -Heb 12:1 Putting aside all loads and sin which surrounds us, let us run perseveringly in the race that lies before us. Note that the Psalmist says "He led me on the paths", not "through the paths". Someone walks "through the paths" if he keeps the counsels. He walks "on the paths" by not only walking, but also teaching and training others to walk -Mat 5:19 Whoever acts and teaches will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. And that is done not by my merits, but:
for his own name's sake, that is, for his own most holy goodness -Ex 15:13 You led with your mercy the people you redeemed. The reasoning is that by God's kindness and grace one is led to the cloister -Mat 4:1 Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted. And how cruel a person is to himself if he escapes from himself and rejects a leader who is so kind -Wis 1:5 The holy spirit of discipline.
4. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me.
Even though I should walk right through the shadow of death, I shall fear no danger, since you are with me.
23:2.1.1 Here are mentioned the graces and benefits aimed at the removal of evil: (1) first the removal of evils, (2) secondly their continued removal: "Your mercy will follow me". As for the first, there is (1) the removal of fear of future evils, (2) then the removal of present evils: "Your rod". In the first there is (1) the removal of fear while the cause of fear is present, (2) the reason for removing this fear: "because you are with me". The idea is: He leads me, and therefore I am secure, even though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death. Note that the "shadow of death" refers to those who are ignorant of God, who are made dark by the very death that is sin -Ps 82:5 They do no know or understand, but walk in the dark. These are those who have the ignorance of denial, such as the Jews and the Gentiles, or that of disposition, such as heretics, or those whose intellect is hardened by sin, such as schismatics and some other sinners -Eph 5:8 You were once darkness. The idea is: If I should walk in the midst of darkness, that is, those who do not know God, whether Gentiles or Jews or heretics or schismatics, I will not fear evil, that of sin or error by being attracted to them and drawn away from you -Ps 27:1 Yahweh is my light and my salvation. Whom should I fear? -Prov 28:1 The just will be confident like the lion. Where does this security come from? Gregory says it is because the person loves him whom no one loses against his will.
Note that there is also the shadow of life, that is, the shadow of the cross which, like a big tree, shadows all of us -Lam 4:20 Yahweh's annointed was caught in their traps, he of whom we said, "in his shadow we shall live among the nations". Sensing that vital shadow, Psalm 17:8 says: In the shadow of your wings, the arms of your cross, protect me. -Cant 2:3 In his delightful shade I sit, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
And there is the shadow of death, which is the abundance of temporal things, which are all like a shade -Wis 5:8-9 What has wealth with boasting brought to us? All that passes like a shadow and a passing announcement. -Job 21:13 They spend their days in good things, and in a moment descend to Sheol. Someone must be raised very high not to be darkened by this shadow, for those who walk close to the earth through this shadow are eclipsed like the moon -Sir 27:11 The stupid man changes like the moon. But the good are far elevated above this shadow and are enlightened by the light of Christ. They are not darkened by this shadow, just as the stars are not -Job 23:17 I am not destroyed by darkness or plunged into obscurity. -Micah 7:8 When I sit in darkness, Yahweh is my light. And that is why is added: I will not fear evil, for you are with me, protecting me -Is 43:2-3 When you go through water, I am with you and it will not drown you. When you go through fire you will not be burnt and the flame will not scorch you, because I, Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, am your savior.
Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.
Your rod and your staff will surely lead me.
23:22.214.171.124 Here is considered the benefit of protection against present evils, (1) first against the evil of sin, (2) against the evil of punishment: "You prepare a table before me". Against the evil of sin there is the benefit of correction. The rod is a smaller and lighter correction. The staff is harder and more harsher. So the idea is: You are with me, and your rod, your lesser and lighter correction, by which you punish me like a child, and your staff, a greater punishment reserved for the older and more advanced, have comforted me, which is more than simply bearing them patiently -Ps 91:15 I am with him in tribulation. The rod is reserved for children -Prov 22:15 Stupidity is bound to the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it from him. But the staff is for the wicked, who are used to acting evilly -Is 14:5 Yahweh broke the staff of the wicked. These were a consolation and comfort to me, because the offended me as a child -Heb 12:6 The Lord punishes every son he receives, not only in general, but also his beloved Son -Rev 3:19 The ones I love I rebuke and punish. This way eternal punishment is turned into a temporal one -Gregory: The saints consider temporal punishment a gain, because they are aware that through them they escape eternal punishment. In this way they turn eternal unhappiness into interminable joy -John 16:20,22 Your sadness will be turned into joy… and no one can take your joy from you -Wis 3:5 Punished a little, they have much to gain. -2 Cor 4:17 The temporary, light burden of our harships is earning us forever an utterly incomparable eternal weight of glory, since you know that they are a pain and an affliction only to the light-minded -Wis 12:22 When you punish us, you give our enemies a punishment many times greater.
There could be a theme in the feast of the Cross in September [14th], which is within the octave of the Blessed Mary: The rod is the Blessed Virgin -Num 17:23 On Aaron's branch buds had formed and flowers had blossomed -Is 11:1 A rod will sprout from the trunk of Jesse. The staff is the cross -Gen 32:11 I crossed the Jordan with this staff. These are the consolations of the good: the Virgin and the Passion.
5. Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me.
You prepare my table before me, in front of my adversaries.
23:126.96.36.199.1 This is about benefits protecting against the evil of punishment, and they are three: (1) the refreshment of a triple meal, (2) the fulness of anointment and grace on the head: "You anointed my head with oil", and (3) the chalice of the Lord's Passion: "My cup". The idea is: You protected my by your rod and staff against sin. Besides, against those who trouble my soul, by inflicting pain, you have prepared a table, which is Scripture, that consoles me, and certainly the Eucharist, or hope of eternal glory. This triple distinction is found in the Gloss. On the first, Ex 26:35 You will place the table outside the curtain, and the lap-stand on the south side of the Dwelling, opposite the table; you will put the table on the north side. This arrangement of the table shows that one should not eat in the corner and inside the veil, but in the open publicly -Osee 4:18 Their drinking session is set apart, they then fornicate (Vul). So we should not give ourselves totally to bodily food, but to reading -Prov 13:25 The just man eats to satisfy himself, but the stomach of the wicked is always hungry. Likewise we should eat exposed to the north wind, which freezes water, in other words, fleshly concupiscence, which should be restricted in eating -Sir 37:28 Be not drawn after every enjoyment, neither become a glutton for choice foods.
On the second table, the Eucharist, Prov 9:1-2 Wisdom, that is, Christ, built herself a home, that is, the Church, and carved seven columns for it, which are the seven sacraments, slaughtered sacrifices, the holy prophets of old and himself on the altar of the cross, mixed wine and set a table, on the altar, serving his flesh and blood. This is the table giving strength against every tribulation -Ps 104:15 Bread strengthens the heart of man, so that he will not vacillate through impatience, but immolate himself completely, as he recalls the immolated One and receives his God in himself -Prov 23:1 (according to another reading) When you sit at the table of a rich man, notice carefully what is served to you, and know that you will have to prepare a similar fare.
On the third table, Luke 22:30 That you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.
The Gloss: The first table tells of refreshment, the second refreshes, the third glorifies. The first is the literal application, the second the spiritual, the third will be the reality in open vision. And note that, according to the Gloss, this is said against those who trouble the Church because they are evil. If they presume to receive the body of Christ, it is a contrary and harmful food -1 Cor 11:29-30 Whoever eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking condemnation for himself, since he does not recognize the body. Therefore, because you eat unworthily, there are many weak and sick among you, and many sleep, subject to chronic illnesses and sudden passions.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
You anoint my head with oil;
23:188.8.131.52.2 The idea is: Not only do I have the consolation of your table, but also I have my head anointed. You anointed my head, which is Christ -Eph 1:22 He gave him to the Church, which is his body, as head over everything. The oil signifies joy and spiritual happiness -Ps 104:15 to make faces shine with oil. -Is 61:3 to give them the oil of gladness instead of mourning. This oil was poured on the head of the Church -Ps 45:8 God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness. -Ps 133:2 like oil on the head. The special head of everyone is his mind -1 Cor 11:3 The head of the wife is the husband. That is, he is the mind of the inferior party. This head is ruled and anointed with oil, that is, the Holy Spirit, who is called oil -Ps 89:21 I found David my servant, and anointed him with my holy oil. -Qoheleth 9:8 The oil on your head will not be lacking. It rejoices the heart -Acts 13:52 The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Therefore on the table oil is shown to us, as a sign that the head is anointed with the Holy Spirit.
and my chalice which inebreateth me, how goodly is it!
my cup overflows.
23:184.108.40.206.3 The idea is: Be consoled, because all […an illegible paragraph] -2 Cor 10:16 The chalice of blessing that we bless, is it not the blood of the Lord? Here the container is taken for the contents. So Augustine and Cassiodorus have "how wonderful is your inebriating drink.
How goodly it is! This chalice literally is wonderful (praeclarus), (1) because this blood descends from a royal ancestry through the most wonderful Virgin, (2) also because it is contained under the most noble species of drink, which is wine -Zech 9:17 How fine and spendid that will be, (3) because the whole Christ is there, it is rightly called wonderful, since the light is there which is spoken of in 1 John 1:5 God is light and there is no darkness in him, (4) and it gives the brightness of eternal glory -John 6:55 Whoever drinks my blood has eternal life.
It is said to be inebriating because literally that species could be taken in such a quantity that it would inebriate, as the Gloss explains. -1 Cor 11:21 One is hungry, another is drunk. Or it inebriates spiritually, making one forget about temporal things and carnal pleasures -Prov 31:7 He will drink and forget his poverty. -Ps 65:10 You visited the land and inebriated it (Vul). -Jer 23:9 I am like a drunken man, like one overcome by wine, because of Yahweh and his holy words. -Zech 9:15 They will drink and get drunk (Vul).
6. And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
Yes, goodness and kindness will attend me all the days of my life.
23:2.2 This section is about conservation in good and in the graces mentioned. The idea is: These benefits, which have been mentioned, you will give me, or have given to me already. Besides these, your mercy will follow me, to confirm that it has already began to act -Phil 2:13 God, for his own goodness, acts in you both to will and to do. This was hinted at in Ex 14:19 The angel of God who went before the camp of Israel, changed station and followed them. This grace is very necessary, since it is what does everything -Cassius: More serious are the traps which the devil prepares in the rear, and when someone thinks that he has overcome a vice, a much greater ignorance deceives him -Ps 56:7 They watch my steps (Vul). -Gen 3:15 You will strike at its heel. Note that, as anticipatory mercy is the love of helping the miserable out of their misery, so subsequent mercy is the love of following one who is lifted up, so that he does not fall into misery -Cassiodorus: If there is only subsequent mercy, no one will share in the gift, and if there is only anticipatory mercy, no one could preserve his neck. -Gregory: Every good is lost if it is not guarded by the giver.
All the days of my life, that I live here. These are the days of my life, but those which in [illegible], O Lord -Ps 84:11 One day in your courts is better than a thousand. And note, according to Cassiodorus, that ten things are touched on here which are necessary for the way: (1) places through which [The rest of the paragraph is illegible, except for phrases.] -in a place of pasture, (2) [ ] -on waters of refreshment, (3) [ ] -he converted my soul, (4) shortness of the way -he led me, (5) security of the way -if I should walk in the shadow of death I will not fear evil, (6) consolation of the soul -your rod and your staff, (7) a wonderful refreshment -you prepared a table for me, (8) joy -you anointed my head with oil, (9) [ ] -my cup is inebriating, (10) continuation on the way to the end -and your mercy will follow me. The previous division is according to those who read: "The Lord shephers me; I will lack nothing. But according to the common reading, there should be eleven things. The first is being place on the right way, and the other ten as enumerated.
And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.
I will live in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.
23:3 Here is shown the purpose and utility of all the preceding graces, namely, to live in the eternal house of God, and preparation for that cohabitation. For length. The idea is that you have gradually moved me along with different graces, and all these are that I may dwell in the house of the Lord -Ps 84:8 They will go from strength to strength, and the God of gods will be seen in Zion (Vul). This is the house of the Lord referred to in 2 Cor 5:1 We know that if this earthly house is dissolved, we have a better construction from God, an eternal house not made by hands in heaven. -Cassiodorus: This is the grace of contemplation, spoken of in Ps 84:5 Happy are those who dwell in your house. They will praise you forever. That is what is meant here by the phrase for length of days -Prov 3:16 Length of days is at his right hand, and at his left hand riches and glory. -Rev 3:12 Him who is victorious I will make a column in the temple of God, and he will not go out any more. And note the Gloss, which gives the reason why this Psalm is sung at the funerals of the dead.