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Barnes Notes and Word Study on Psalm 32:2

Psalm 23:2 (ESV) … “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. Marg., pastures of tender grass. The Hebrew word rendered pastures means usually dwellings, or habitations. It is applied here properly to pastures, as places where flocks and herds lie down for repose. The word rendered in the margin tender grass—דֶּשֶׁא, deshe—refers to the first shoots of vegetation from the earth—young herbage—tender grass—as clothing the meadows, and as delicate food for cattle, Job 6:5. It differs from ripe grass ready for mowing, which is expressed by a different word—חָצִיר, hhatzir. The idea is that of calmness and repose, as suggested by the image of flocks lying down on the grass. But this is not the only idea. It is that of flocks that lie down on the grass fully fed or satisfied,—their wants being completely supplied. The exact point of contemplation in the mind of the poet, I apprehend, is that of a flock in young and luxuriant grass, surrounded by abundance, and, having satisfied their wants, lying down amidst this luxuriance with calm contentment. It is not merely a flock enjoying repose; it is a flock whose wants are supplied, lying down in the midst of abundance. Applied to the psalmist himself, or to the people of God generally, the idea is, that the wants of the soul are met and satisfied, and that, in the full enjoyment of this, there is the conviction of abundance,—the repose of the soul at present satisfied, and feeling that in such abundance want will be always unknown.

He leadeth me beside the still waters. Marg., waters of quietness. Not stagnant waters, but waters not tempestuous and stormy; waters so calm, gentle, and still, as to suggest the idea of repose, and such as prompt to repose. As applied to the people of God, this denotes the calmness—the peace—the repose of the soul, when salvation flows as in a gently running stream; when there is no apprehension of want; when the heart is at peace with God.[1]

[1] Barnes, A. (1870–1872). Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms (Vol. 1, p. 210). Blackie & Son.


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