Psalm 231NIV New International Version Translations
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, 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 forever.
Psalm 23 is the best known and most popular of all the psalms. There is nothing particular in the title about its purpose; it is simply attributed to David. It appears to be a thanksgiving of the Israelites for their redemption from their Babylonian captivity. It is a truly beautiful Psalm. Supposing it to have been written after the captivity, we see, the redeemed captives giving thanks to God for their liberty.
The Lord is the Pastor of his people; therefore it may be inferred that they shall not want, 1. How he guides, feeds, and protects them, 2, 3. Even in the greatest dangers they may be confident of his support, 4. His abundant provision for them, 5. The confidence they may have of his continual mercy, and their eternal happiness, 6.
Acknowledging that God had brought back their lives from the grave. 3. They represent themselves in Judea as a flock in an excellent pasture. 4. They declare that from the dangers they have passed through, and from which God had delivered them, they can have no fear of any enemy. 5. They conclude, from what God has done for them, that his goodness and mercy shall follow them all their days. And, 6. That they shall no more be deprived of God’s worship, but shall all their days have access to his temple.
Items for Discussion
- Psalm 23 is most popular at funerals. What is it about this Psalm that would comfort the bereaved?
- How is God like a shepherd?
- How is God like a guide?
- How is God like a friend?
- How does this Psalm describe life on earth for us?
- How does this Psalm describe life in heaven for us?
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.
In many ways, John’s Gospel is different from the other three Gospels. John did not include any stories about Jesus’ birth or his baptism. John only recorded 7 miracles, which he called ‘signs’. John did not include any parables (stories which Jesus told to teach something about God). But John recorded many long speeches that Jesus made.
The writer Eusebius (about AD 260-339) believed that John knew about the other three Gospels. But when he read them, John had not yet written his Gospel. He was still just talking to people about his life with Jesus. John agreed that the other Gospels were true accounts.
But Jesus was already preaching before King Herod put John the Baptist in prison. The other Gospels did not include an account of this. They recorded much about what Jesus did in Galilee. Also, they recorded what Jesus did in Jerusalem just before his death. But Jesus went to Jerusalem at other times, too. So John provided the facts that were missing from the other Gospels. He used information that they did not have. John’s account did not disagree with the other Gospels. It added different information, so that we can understand more about Jesus.
The second century writer, Clement, from Alexandria, called John’s Gospel a ‘spiritual Gospel’. In some ways, he was right. John did not record just facts about Jesus. John had thought much about what Jesus had said. And John had thought much about the miracles that he had seen. He wanted to explain the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ words and acts.
But John also included many physical details. For example, the loaves that Jesus used to feed 5000 people were ‘barley loaves’ (John 6:9). He recorded the distance that the disciples had travelled across the lake (John 6:19). And he remembered how the smell of the perfume filled the house at Bethany (John 11:32). These details do not seem important. But they are memories of a person who was present at these events. So John’s Gospel is not just a spiritual book. It is the personal account of someone who had seen these events.
Verses 25-26 Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would remind the disciples of Jesus’ own words. The disciples had lived with Jesus during three years. He had taught them many things. And we know much about what he taught. We can read Jesus’ own words in the Gospels. This is because of the Holy Spirit’s help. He helped the disciples (and other people who were with Jesus) to remember. The Holy Spirit then helped the authors of the Gospels to record only what was true. The Holy Spirit can help us, too. When we read the Bible, he will help us. He will help us to understand it. In our daily lives, he will remind us of the things that we have learned.
Verse 27 The peace that Jesus gives to all Christians is the only real peace. To have this peace does not mean that we will not have trouble. But we have this peace even when bad things happen. We have this peace when we are ill or in pain. We have this peace when people reject us. This peace comforts us. It makes us remain calm when we have problems. We know that God is looking after us. So this peace will stop our fears. God controls our lives, in the present and in the future. Nothing and nobody else in the world can give this peace to us. Only Jesus can give it to us. He offers it to everybody who believes in him. But we have to want it. And we have to receive it from him. We must not put our trust just in ourselves when we are in difficulties.
Verses 28-29 When Jesus was on the earth, he was unable to do many things because of his physical body. For example, although he was God’s Son, Jesus could be in only one place at one particular time. But the Father does not have limits of time and space. So, in this way, the Father was greater than Jesus was. But Jesus would soon be with his Father again. And then Jesus would not have physical limits. He was very happy to go back to his Father. And Jesus wanted his disciples to be happy on his behalf.
Verses 30-31 ‘The ruler of this world’ means the devil. He has some authority in the world because of Adam’s sin (see note for John 12:31). But the devil has no authority over Jesus, because Jesus has never sinned. And the devil has no authority over Christians. Because we believe in Jesus, his righteousness becomes our righteousness. Still the devil will try to make us do wrong things. He may attack us in different ways. But we must continue to trust and to obey Jesus. Then the devil will have no power over us.
Items for Discussion
- How would you describe “real peace?”
- Does your definition differ from that found in the world today and how does it differ?
- Think of this statement, “There can be no peace without God?” Where might this fall short in our world today?
- Now think of this statement, “There can be no peace without Christ?” How is this different from the prior statement and is Christ sufficient to bring peace to the world?
- Now think of this statement, “There can be no peace without the Holy Spirit?” How is this different from the prior two statements?
- How do God, Christ and the Holy Spirit work together to bring peace to our world?
- Can peace be brought to a home, a business, a community, a country without the Trinity being present: God, Christ and the Holy Spirit?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations