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NPNF1-08. St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms
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Psalm XXIII.615615     Lat. XXII.

A psalm of David himself.

1. The Church speaks to Christ: “The Lord feedeth me, and I shall lack nothing” (ver. 1). The Lord Jesus Christ is my Shepherd, “and I shall lack nothing.”

2. “In a place of pasture there hath He placed me” (ver. 2). In a place of fresh pasture, leading me to faith,616616     Pascuæ incipientis. there hath He placed me to be nourished. “By the water of refreshing hath He brought me up.” By the water of baptism, whereby they are refreshed who have lost health and strength, hath He brought me up.

3. “He hath converted my soul: He hath led me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake” (ver. 3). He hath brought me forth in the narrow ways, wherein few walk, of His righteousness; not for my merit’s sake, but for His Name’s sake.

4. “Yea, though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death” (ver. 4). Yea, though I walk in the midst of this life, which is the shadow of death.617617     [Note this very comprehensive comment on the real meaning of the valley.—C.] “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” I will fear no evil, for Thou dwellest in my heart by faith: and Thou art now with me, that after the shadow of death I too may be with Thee. “Thy rod and Thy staff, they have comforted me.” Thy discipline, like a rod for a flock of sheep, and like a staff for children of some size, and growing out of the natural into spiritual life, they have not been grievous to me; rather have they comforted me: because Thou art mindful of me.

5. “Thou hast prepared a table in my sight, against them that trouble me” (ver. 5). Now after the rod, whereby, whilst a little one, and living the natural life, I was brought up among the flock in the pastures; after that rod, I say, when I began to be under the staff, Thou hast prepared a table in my sight, that I should no more be fed as a babe with milk,618618     1 Cor. iii. 2. but being older should take meat, strengthened against them that trouble me. “Thou hast fattened my head with oil.” Thou hast gladdened my mind with spiritual joy. “And Thy inebriating cup, how excellent is it!” And Thy cup yielding forgetfulness of former vain delights, how excellent is it!

6. “And Thy mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:” that is, as long as I live in this mortal life, not Thine, but mine. “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord619619     [He applies the figures of ver. 5 and here to the Lord’s Table, the chrism (i.e., confirmation), and the Church in time and eternity.—C.] for length of days” (ver. 6). Now Thy mercy shall follow me not here only, but also that I may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


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