A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. The Lord Jesus is our guide and inner teacher, we are meant to be led by Him. He is the living Word and teaches us through the Word and by the Holy spirit, which is His presence. He teaches those who genuinely yearn for good in their life, church and country. The Lord and the life He gives restores our wholeness in spite of circumstances. The inner life He offers us is the greatest treasure, but we have to fight for it. The more we allow ourself to be led by the Lord the more we become our true self.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. The 23 Psalm is a lot about having an inner sanctuary. In love and faith to the Lord we can have a sense of inner peace. This is an inward resource that provides direction, and self-agency in spite of what problems may come. I am a hospice chaplain and hope to help others find this inner pasture as they pass the days in bed. One can see the kind of inner resources people have and I help them to develop their inner life as best I can. Green pastures represents spiritual nourishment; and the whole phrase means peace that comes after trials. In John in regard to pasture the Lord says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
He leads me beside quiet waters. This also refers to inner sanctuary and the mercy the Lord gives to all who go through trails.
He refreshes my soul. My sense of this is that for those who yearn for God, they receive an intimate love for Him, and with that the light of wisdom. I have often experienced that when I read the Word and seek to understand the scriptures, I feel a palpable light enter into my my mind and body and brings a sense of joy and purpose and relief from stress and anxiety. My soul feels refreshed in a spiritual way, very much like our mind and body does at the sight of a calm body of water, or at the sight of a flowing river in a green valley. God can be seen in nature, the innate moral yearnings of man, and in the Word.
Our psyche lets go and receives the Lord when we come into humility. True humility never remains unknown like a spring flower hidden within grass that releases its fragrance far and wide. Humility is the soul’s true beauty because beauty is the form of love. It makes it possible to find strength and rest unlike pride which is wearisome to the soul
He guides me along the right paths. In the spiritual world there are paths that lead to heaven or hell. In the world of spirits one is being constantly vastated either toward heaven or hell according to one’s own loves and inclinations. The Lord and his angels also walk with us in this world in the sense they are constantly trying to guide us to the heavenly path. Swedenborg writes that the ‘stone along the path’ spoken of in the Bible is a real place along the path that leads out of the world of spirits to heaven or to hell. Those who cannot see the stone in the path stumble on it and fall the wrong way. Those who can see and accept the guidance of the angels from their inner love are guided to their place in heaven.
This phrase also has to do with the way ‘paths’ are built in our psyche. Paths our built in our mind by the union of exercising our love and intelligence in union for a useful life accomplishment, whether that be big or small. The path is formed by exercising our skills and inner gifts from the love of being useful, and becomes a bond with God particularly when we realize the good we do comes from God. The path is laid when action is taken.
For His name’s sake. By the word “Name” (including Jehovah, the Lord, and Jesus Christ), is not meant just the name of one person, but the whole infinite Kaleidoscope of truths and loves of which Jesus Christ is the source, and for which He is worshiped. The power in the Name of Jesus Christ is not in the mere name but in loving and understanding who He is and what he did for us. He redeemed everything by His supreme acts of love. The resurrection can be compared to the dynamics of Supernovas, where all the elements on the periodic table are produced in the moments before and during the explosion, and where immeasurable heat and light are produced and distributed to the universe. In the resurrection Jesus renewed all things, He distributed spiritual gifts to the souls of man, He paved the paths to heaven that had been lost in the psyche and soul of man. In Him are all the infinite and interconnected truths and loves of life. He is the source and He is the way, and we have the opportunity to know the way by the gifts he gave us to use.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Jesus gives us the eternal promise that He is closest when we are lowest, undergoing trials and temptation, and most in need of him. Trials will always come in this world, but we can always trust in the Lord that He will be with us, and that he is just. There is no greater power than divine truth from Him.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. In correspondences the table is a container of celestial truths, because good food means spiritual nourishment, and the table holds these in abundance. Our soul is made to be a receptacle of wisdom from the Lord, as a plant receives light from the sun and converts it to life energy. The anointing of the head with oil also corresponds to the taking-in of spiritual nourishment. This verse is reminiscent of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus. She was so filled with love for Him and the revelation that He is God that her ‘cup overflowed with Joy’. Love elevates perception, and perception elevates love so she was on fire with the union of love and awareness. In spite of the difficulties of the circumstance Mary seized the moment and anointed Jesus while he was alive. For her incredible act of love – being the first to understand that He is God – Jesus memorialized her action for all time.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord gave us life from the moment of conception. From His infinite wisdom He made us to fill a unique need in the universe at the time of our conception. We have to live into it from our own will. Everyone ever born is meant for heaven (chosen), but because we are free many choose poorly. (Freedom is both the means of salvation and the cause of hell). Nevertheless, all life is sacred, and all are meant for heaven where God wants nothing more than to prepare a place of us at the table.
The Form of our soul at death is determined by the concordance between our external and internal self. What this means is there is a union formed between faith and charity when we act on them together, but not so if we make them separate. From the union of love and intelligence (charity and faith) springs forth renewed life like water from a fountain (as it did in Mary). At the same time, in this process, we also bond with God (to the degree we developed it) for He is the source of the good we are expressing. The constellation of this union at the time of death does not change. This is the meaning of ‘As the tree falleth, so it lies”. Bringing our internal and external into harmony by the way we lived is a spiritual practice. Our internal and external being in harmony speaks to being genuine, honest, humble and strong. If they are separated we have been dishonest, avoidant, lukewarm and cannot be in the light of heaven. The practice of union is the source of all genuine spirituality. The constellation of this union at death is like a seed which, when exposed to heavenly light, will grow in magnificent ways we cannot conceive of now, and it does so for eternity. (In my house I will build you many mansions.) He is with us always.