Psalm 23


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psalm 23 verse 4


An Analysis of Psalm 23 verse 4 by Adam Clarke


Verse 4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death] The reference is still to the shepherd. Though I, as one of
the flock, should walk through the most dismal valley, in the dead
of the night, exposed to pitfalls, precipices, devouring beasts,

such a Shepherd. He knows all the passes, dangerous defiles,
hidden pits, and abrupt precipices in the way; and he will guide
me around, about, and through them. See the phrase shadow of death
explained on Mt 4:16. "Thof I ward well and imang tha, that
nouther has knowyng of God, ne luf or in myddis of this lyf, that
es schadow of ded; for it es blak for myrkenes of syn; and it
ledes til dede and il men, imang qwam gude men wones:-I sal nout
drede il, pryve nor apert; for thu ert with me in my hert, qwar I
fele thu so, that eftir the schadow of dede, I be with the in thi
vera lyf."-Old Psalter.

For thou art with me] He who has his God for a companion need
fear no danger; for he can neither mistake his way, nor be


Thy rod and thy staff] shibtecha, thy sceptre, rod,
ensign of a tribe, staff of office; for so shebet
signifies in Scripture. And thy staff, umishantecha, thy
prop or support. The former may signify the shepherd's crook; the
latter, some sort of rest or support, similar to our camp stool,
which the shepherds might carry with them as an occasional seat,
when the earth was too wet to be sat on with safety. With the rod
or crook the shepherd could defend his sheep, and with it lay hold
of their horns or legs to pull them out of thickets, boys, pits,
or waters. We are not to suppose that by the rod correction is
meant: there is no idea of this kind either in the text, or in the
original word; nor has it this meaning in any part of Scripture.
Besides, correction and chastisement do not comfort; they are
not, at least for the present, joyous, but grievous; nor can any
person look forward to them with comfort. They abuse the text who
paraphrase rod correction, shaan
signifies support, something to rest on, as a staff, crutch,
stave, or the like. The Chaldee translates thus: "Even though I
should walk in captivity, in the valley of the shadow of death, I
will not fear evil. Seeing thy WORD ( meymerach, thy personal
Word) is my Assistant or Support; thy right word and thy law
console me." Here we find that the WORD, meymar, is
distinguished from any thing spoken, and even from the law itself.
I cannot withhold the paraphrase of the old Psalter, though it
considers the rod as signifying correction: "Sothly I sal drede na
nylle; for thy wande, that es thi lyght disciplyne, that chasties
me as thi son: and thi staf, that es thi stalworth help, that I
lene me til, and haldes me uppe; thai have comforthed me; lerand
(learning, teaching) me qwat I suld do; and haldand my thaught
in the, that es my comforth."