Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 23

THE LORD AS SHEPHERD AND HOST

THE Lord’s loving care for the psalmist is described here, first under the symbol of the Good Shepherd (Ps 23:1-4), and then under that of the generous host (Ps 23:5-6). As the shepherd feeds a flock, so the psalmist may be regarded as representing the community (the flock) of Israel. God is the Shepherd of Israel (cf. Exodus 34:11-19), and He is also the master of the house, who entertains Israel in the sacred banquets of the Temple. The singer seems to speak as one who has been through bitter trials (Ps 23:4)—not merely as one who is ready to face with courage the unknown perils of the future. The difficulties of the ancient desert-sojournings, or the trials of the Babylonian Exile may be here referred to. The tone of the psalm reminds one of the “Gradual Psalms.” The “Gradual Psalms are also called the “Songs of Ascent.” In those translation of the Bible that follow the psalm numbering of the Septuagint (e.g., the Douay-Rheims), these psalms are numbered 119-133. In translations following the numbering of the Massoretes (e.g., the NAB) the numbering is 120-134. See the footnote to Psalm 120:1 in the RNAB.

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12 Responses to Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 23

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