Psalm 23 - Yahweh is my shepherd

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1 Yahweh is my shepherd; *

I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *

and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul *

and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; *

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *

you have anointed my head with oil,

and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *

and I will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever.


--------------------


This is the Psalm that will be read aloud in unison or sung by a cantor on every fourth Sunday of Easter, all Years, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This psalm is part of the “Good Shepherd Sunday” theme. It will follow a mandatory reading from the Book of Acts, which told of Peter healing Tabitha (or Dorcas), saying, “All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, "Tabitha, get up." Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.” This pair of readings will be followed by a selection from John’s Revelation, where the prophet wrote, “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from John, where it is written: “The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”


I wrote a commentary about this Psalm 23 in 2021 and published it on this website. It can be accessed by clicking on this link. At that time, I did not change the two places where “the Lord” has been the translation so many have memorized to quote, as children. Now, I have restored the proper name written by David, which is “Yahweh.” My prior commentary is still valid and worth reading. However, now I will add some thoughts that make it clearer why there is a “Good Shepherd Sunday” every Easter season.


The symbolism for the Easter season must be realized to be one’s own self – one’s own soul – having been raised from the dead, because the soul of Jesus has been the possessing spirit that causes that rise to eternal life. The Easter season is all about attaining Salvation, so one is no longer worried about death. Death is conquered by having Jesus resurrect within one’s soul. So, all of the lesson read during the seven Sundays of Easter deal with reflections upon that personal change within. This must now be equated with the concept of shepherding.


In last Sunday’s Gospel reading from John, a divine vision of the future was shown him, with the names of saints used to show failures in the future to be truly raised from the dead. At the end of that lesson, Jesus told Simon, “Follow me.” That was not a suggestion. It was a command. Prior to that, Jesus had told Simon (after three failure of him to state his love of Jesus being because he had given birth to him, in his soul (he felt he only loved Jesus as a brother), Jesus gave commands to Simon that said, “Feed my lambs, Shepherd my sheep, and Feed my sheep.” All of those commands can only be done by following the command that says, “Follow me.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd, so the only way Simon (or anyone else) can tend the flocks of Jesus is to be raised from the dead, as Jesus reborn. That lesson must be securely grasped to understand David’s Psalm 23.


In John’s tenth chapter, Jesus spoke of being the “good shepherd.” Prior to saying he was that, he said, “I am the gate for the sheep.” He said the sheep knew the voice of their owner. When David begins his Psalm 23 by stating “Yahweh is my shepherd,” that says Yahweh is the owner. Jesus is then the doorway to Yahweh, where the sheepfold becomes synonymous with salvation, as heaven and eternal life. In order to reach that place of safety, one must enter through Jesus. One must be raised from the dead by having the soul of Jesus resurrected within one’s soul. When that is known to only be a result of having married one’s soul to Yahweh, receiving His Spirit, made sacred as a Christ (Hebrew “Messiah”), then the soul of Jesus can be reborn within that Virgin womb made sin free. Jesus is then the voice of the Father that leads the sheep to green pastures and beside still waters. That is the meaning of “feeding my sheep” with spiritual food and giving my sheep living waters to drink.


When David sang in verse three, “He restores my soul,” the Hebrew word for “restore” is “shub,” which means “to turn back, return.” One cannot sing those words and get some fantasy vision of Jesus making one’s soul feel rejuvenated and young again. The “restoration” is all about Yahweh cleaning all one’s past sins, so a soul headed for ruin and damnation does not get lost out in the pasture and eaten by a wolf. Jesus cannot enter into a filthy dirty soul. All souls must be possessed by the owner Yahweh; and put into his sheepfold of cleaned wife-souls. This cleaning comes by the Spirit of divine marriage to Yahweh.


Here is where Christianity is not a request or volunteer work, where only partial submission to Yahweh is done. This is where Jesus telling Simon, “Follow me,” where “Follow” was a capitalized “Akolouthei,” making it have divinely elevated significance as a command, not a friendly request. Your soul “Follows” through complete and total submission to Yahweh. This is seen in verse two saying, “he makes me lie down” (“yar·bî·ṣê·nî”) and “he leads me” (“yə·na·hă·lê·nî”). The repeating of “he leads me” in verse three (“yan·ḥê·nî”) says Yahweh (the owner) has sent His Son to shepherd His flock. The mindless sheep do not know how to stay out of danger. Therefore, they must have a soul in firm control of their safety, so he watches and the sheep does as he says. He leads and he makes the sheep go to “paths of righteousness.”


I have stated this prior, but it bears repeating that whenever we read in Scripture “for sake of his name” (or “in his name’s sake”), the meaning of “name” says a soul is married and no longer in the name one was before. A wife of Yahweh takes on the name “Israel,” which means one has taken on an elohim within one’s soul. That “el” is Jesus. Therefore, one in the name of Yahweh can equally be called “Jesus,” because that name means “Yahweh Saves.” David sang that having the same “el” that is the soul of Adam (aka Jesus) within his soul is what “led him in the paths of righteousness.” Like Jesus told Simon, no one choses a path of righteousness because they are brotherly friends of Jesus. To “Follow me” means to be “in my name,” so I will lead you to become righteous.

When verse four sings, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” that sings about every soul in a body of flesh being mortal … born to die. The “shadow of death” (Hebrew “tsalmaveth”) can be read as the evil influences that are prevalent in the world, tempting one’s soul to sin and please the flesh, where those sins place a “shadow” on one’s soul (dirty filth) that will keep it from gaining eternal life in heaven upon Judgment. When one is like the failed souls of the future, who will be cions of saints, not true Saints, the “shadow of death” is always “feared.” One always “fears” being trapped by “evil,” even when one calls oneself a brother of Jesus. Only when one has become married to Yahweh, so His Son is always with one as it grazes, does it never think, so it never thinks to “fear evil.” The presence of Jesus within one’s soul always keeps “fear” and “evil” away from one’s tiny (sacrificed) brain.


When the tools of a shepherd are seen in “your rod and your staff,” that says a whack from a “rod” will get one’s attention to go in another direction. These ‘love taps’ are the necessary lessons one learns as one goes long in life. If one gets into some place where rescue is necessary, then the “staff” becomes the crook that can reach into tight places and pull one to safety. Still, the shepherd will primarily use those tools against any dangers, before they threaten one’s soul. Therefor, they become part of the imagery of one’s shepherd; so seeing them “comforts” one’s soul to know one is being diligently watched over. When Jesus told Simon to “Follow me,” that said to be the shepherd in whom Jesus held the “rod and the staff” that made him able to feed and care for flocks.


In verse five, the aspect of a “table” being “prepared” is meant to mean the Seder meal. When the Egyptians refused to allow Moses to use his staff and lead the flock (Yahweh’s children) out to pasture, the yearling lamb became the central focus of a prepared meal. Each soul is raised to be that lamb without blemish, who will willingly sacrifice itself in the “presence of one’s enemies.” The symbolic foods eaten at the Seder meal symbolize the self-sacrifices a soul must make to gain the Promised Land (metaphor for Heaven, not real estate in the Middle East). To sing “My cup runneth over” reflects the drinking until one passes out drunk, drinking cups of wine after the four of the Seder meal. One’s “head is anointed with oil” means self-sacrifice in marriage to Yahweh (becoming an Israel) means His Spirit has made one a Messiah (Greek a Christ). This verse then sings of the total commitment to serve Yahweh, through the commands of His Son. In this preparation to become served on the plate of self-sacrifice, one’s worst “enemies” are the sins one’s flesh has become addicted to (and the friends who like you filled with sins). One must sacrifice one’s soul to Yahweh so those “enemies” can be defeated.


The final verse then sing of the “goodness” that can only come from uniting with Yahweh. Jesus said, “Only God is good.” One cannot pretend to be “good,” as only the presence of Yahweh allows “goodness” to shine forth. When Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd,” his use of “good” says Jesus does only what Yahweh tells him to do. Therefore, he is a shepherd sent by Yahweh to do “goodness.” This presence can only come after a total cleansing of sins, which is the “mercy” shown by Yahweh to His wife-souls. When David sang, “shall follow me” (“yir·də·p̄ū·nî”), this sings of David doing as Jesus commanded Simon. He did not refer to “mercy following David,” he said “mercy” will come by David “following” as commanded. Those orders will be followed as long as David’s body of flesh held his soul. When released from that flesh, David’s soul would experience eternal life in heaven – “the house of Yahweh.” The experience would last for eternity.


As a standard Psalm to be sung on every fourth Sunday of Easter, it is vital to see the depth of meaning that comes from David’s divinely inspired words. While David did not know Jesus of Nazareth, his soul knew the same soul within his. It is the Yahweh elohim told in Genesis 2, when Yahweh created His Son Adam. Yahweh created Adam to become the eternal soul to be resurrected in the souls of Yahweh’s lambs. The Good Shepherd is Jesus reborn. Jesus told his disciples, prior to his final Passover week, the parable of the sheep and the goats. The goats are those like Simon, who thought being a brother of Jesus (his equal in the flesh) was enough. In Jesus’ parable, the goats were as worthless as branches that bore no fruit – they were thrown into the outer darkness. The Church elders knew the meaning of Easter; and, it is not to worship Jesus as some hero that did things nobody else can do. Easter is all about the sacrifice of self, so one can be raised from the shadow of death, as Jesus reborn. Oneself must rise from slaughtered lamb to be a new good shepherd.

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