Book #1: 1-41, cont’d.
This is a Messianic Psalm and is one of the most quoted Psalms in the New Testament.
Psalm 22:1-18-David feels that his prayers are not being answered and that God has forsaken him. He feels like God is far from him when he prays. He prays both day and night…but receives no answer (:2). But, David finds comfort in the fact that God is “holy”…meaning that He will always do the right thing (:3). He also finds comfort in the fact that in days past the Jews had trusted in God and He answered them, then (:4-5). The people mock him for trusting in God (:6-8). David says that even before he was born God was already working in him to trust Him (:9-10). David describes his dire circumstances (:11-18). His describes his adversaries as “bulls”, a “lion”, “dogs”, and “evildoers”. Their incessant attacks have totally drained him of both physical and emotional strength. They are gone and he feels completely depleted of energy (:14-16). As a result he has lost weight and become so thin that he can count his bones through his skin. Other people recognize his pitiful condition and simply stare at him (:17). They’ve already counted him as good as dead and begin to divide up his belongings (:18).
Psalm 22:19-31-But David continues to cry out to God to save him (:19-21). He states his belief that God will rescue him (:22-24), that he will proclaim his praise to Him among all the people (:25-26), that God will be worshipped by all the nations of the earth (:27-29), and that His righteousness will be proclaimed to the coming generations (:30-31).
This is certainly one of the most well-known passages in all of the Bible. In this Psalm, David says that God is like a shepherd to him...leading him through life to places where he is protected and where there is nourishment.
Like many others, this beloved Psalm bears the simple title, A Psalm of David. Most account it to be a Psalm of David's maturity, but with vivid remembrance of his youth as 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."
"It has charmed more griefs to rest than all the philosophy of the world. It has remanded to their dungeon more felon thoughts, more black doubts, more thieving sorrows, than there are sands on the sea-shore. It has comforted the noble host of the poor. It has sung courage to the army of the disappointed. It has poured balm and consolation into the heart of the sick, of captives in dungeons, of widows in their pinching griefs, of orphans in their loneliness. Dying soldiers have died easier as it was read to them; ghastly hospitals have been illuminated; it has visited the prisoner, and broken his chains, and, like Peter's angel, led him forth in imagination, and sung him back to his home again. It has made the dying Christian slave freer than his master, and consoled those whom, dying, he left behind mourning, not so much that he was gone, as because they were left behind, and could not go too." (Beecher, cited in Spurgeon)
"Millions of people have memorized this psalm, even those who have learned few other Scripture portions. Ministers have used it to comfort people who are going through severe personal trials, suffering illness, or dying. For some, the words of this psalm have been the last they have ever uttered in life." (Boice)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Psalm 23, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Psa/Psa_23.cfm
Psalm 23:1-Because God is his shepherd he will never lack for anything. He is confident in God’s ability to provide everything necessary for life. This first verse is a general statement of David’s faith in God’s ability…and the rest of the Psalm then expands on specific details of this ability. What an incredible declaration of faith.
Psalm 23:2-Shelter, food and water are the necessities for life. The shepherd leads the sheep to a place where they can lie down (shelter), find food (green pastures), and have a supply of water (quiet waters). God will provide everything that we need for life.
Psalm 23:3-Sheep have no natural defenses against predators…and consequently, they can be nervous animals. When they are stressed it affects their health. So, as they travel from pasture to pasture…the shepherd chooses paths that are peaceful, calm, protected. The word “righteousness” comes from a word that means “straight”…suggesting an easy path to follow, one without danger or fear. The shepherd takes care of his sheep because their condition is a reflection on his ability, and his character. I can find comfort in the fact that God isn’t a distant, uncaring deity that I cannot know or relate to. In fact, He is so personal and intimate with me…that He has placed His own name on the line for my welfare. He has intentionally identified His presence, provision and protection of me…as a reflection on His own character.
Psalm 23:4-However, David is very realistic. Sometimes there is not an easy path to follow. Sometimes life goes through difficulties. Here, those times are portrayed as a deep, dark valley. This is a place where danger and death itself linger. At these times, the sheep are comforted because of the ability of the shepherd to protect them. His proficiency with a rod (a club used to fight off wild beasts) and his staff (a long stick with a curve on the end used to retrieve sheep when they have fallen over an edge, or cliff) give them calm and confidence. David says that even when life is hard, he does not fear, because God will protect him.
Psalm 23:5-Some people suggest that at this point David switches metaphors…from God being like a shepherd, to God being like a host who provides a sumptuous meal. In this case, God prepares a “table” (a delightful meal) for His people. However, others suggest that the word “table” speaks of a “tableland” (a large, expansive valley of lush grass)…where the sheep will graze in its abundance. In either case, those that would threaten their life are held at bay and pose no threat. It is as if David was saying that God’s care for him would be so obvious…that even his enemies would recognize it. The shepherd would anoint (pour) oil on the forehead of the sheep. Its scent served as a bug repellant. The sheep associated this smell with freedom from the continuous attack of biting and stinging bugs. It was a soothing source of comfort for them. The shepherd would on occasion also pour oil onto the head of a sheep when it had a wound. It had a medicinal affect. David relates these applications to himself and says that God pours aromatic oil on his head. It has a distinctive aroma that reminds him of God’s protection and it is soothing to his scalp, reminding him of God’s comfort and care.
Psalm 23:6-David now summarizes all that he has said. He is confident God will care for him as long as he lives. And, he is convinced that when he dies he will live with God in Heaven, forever.
It has been suggested that this Psalm of praise may have been written by David when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem.
Psalm 24:1-2-David begins by saying that all of creation belongs to the LORD since He is the One Who “founded” (this word speaks of laying a foundation on which to build) and “established” (this word means to make something stable, secure, and permanent) it.
Psalm 24:3-6-David describes the attributes of those that are allowed to enter into the presence of the LORD.
- The properties of God's peculiar people, who shall have communion with him in grace and glory.
(1.) They are such as keep themselves from all the gross acts of sin. They have clean hands; not spotted with the pollutions of the world and the flesh. None that were ceremonially unclean might enter into the mountain of the temple, which signified that cleanness of conversation which is required in all those that have fellowship with God. The hands lifted up in prayer must be pure hands, no blot of unjust gain cleaving to them, nor any thing else that defiles the man and is offensive to the holy God.
(2.) They are such as make conscience of being really (that is, of being inwardly) as good as they seem to be outwardly. They have pure hearts. We make nothing of our religion if we do not make heart-work of it. It is not enough that our hands be clean before men, but we must also wash our hearts from wickedness, and not allow ourselves in any secret heart-impurities, which are open before the eye of God. Yet in vain do those pretend to have pure and good hearts whose hands are defiled with the acts of sin. That is a pure heart which is sincere and without guile in covenanting with God, which is carefully guarded, that the wicked one, the unclean spirit, touch it not, which is purified by faith, and conformed to the image and will of God; see Mt. 5:8.
(3.) They are such as do not set their affections upon the things of this world, do not lift up their souls unto vanity, whose hearts are not carried out inordinately towards the wealth of this world, the praise of men, or the delights of sense, who do not choose these things for their portion, nor reach forth after them, because they believe them to be vanity, uncertain and unsatisfying.
(4.) They are such as deal honestly both with God and man. In their covenant with God, and their contracts with men, they have not sworn deceitfully, nor broken their promises, violated their engagements, nor taken any false oath. Those that have no regard to the obligations of truth or the honour of God's name are unfit for a place in God's holy hill.
(5.) They are a praying people (v. 6): This is the generation of those that seek him. In every age there is a remnant of such as these, men of this character, who are accounted to the Lord for a generation, Ps. 22:30. And they are such as seek God, that seek they face, O Jacob!
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Psalms 24, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_024.cfm?a=502002
Psalm 24:7-10-These verses speak prophetically of the ascension of Christ into Heaven where He will reign as King.
- The privileges of God's peculiar people, v. 5. They shall be made truly and for ever happy.
(1.) They shall be blessed: they shall receive the blessing from the Lord, all the fruits and gifts of God's favour, according to his promise; and those whom God blesses are blessed indeed, for it is his prerogative to command the blessing.
(2.) They shall be justified and sanctified. These are the spiritual blessings in heavenly things which they shall receive, even righteousness, the very thing they hunger and thirst after, Mt. 5:6. Righteousness is blessedness, and it is from God only that we must expect it, for we have no righteousness of our own. They shall receive the reward of their righteousness (so some), the crown of righteousness which the righteous Judge shall give, 2 Tim. 4:8.
(3.) They shall be saved; for God himself will be the God of their salvation. Note, Where God gives righteousness he certainly designs salvation. Those that are made meet for heaven shall be brought safely to heaven, and then they will find what they have been seeking, to their endless satisfaction.
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Psalms 24, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_024.cfm?a=502002
For a powerful audio sermon on Psalm 24 see:
John Phillips, Voices of for Christ, http://voicesforchrist.org/speakers/612?direction=asc&page=3&sort=event_date
Prayer: Lord, taken together, these three Psalms bring incredible comfort and encouragement. In Psalm 22, I am reminded of the past…that You always cared for Your people and never let them down. In Psalm 23, I am reminded that You are constantly as near to me as a shepherd is to his sheep…always diligent to provide for them and protect them. And then, in Psalm 24, I am reminded that when life is over…life is not over. There is more to life than earth…there is Heaven. And there, in Heaven, I see You continuing to love and nurture those that are Yours…even as You always have. You are the King of glory!