June 24, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 28 (KJV)


Title: Keep Me From Temptation

A psalm of David.

Psalm 28 (KJV)


1 Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.

2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.

3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.

4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.

5 Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.

6 Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped : therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

8 The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.



The contents of this psalm do not provide any indication as to the time or the circumstances of its composition.The theme is the strong affection of the author for those who respect and love God. In it, he brings up his strong desire to be associated with them in uprightness and purpose; his earnest wish is that he might not be lured away from them, and that his lot in life might not be with the wicked. It would seem from the psalm itself, especially from verse 3, that it was composed during a time when its author was under some powerful temptation from the wicked, or when there were strong enticements offered by them which tended to lead him back to his old companions who were strangers to God; and, under this temptation, he speaks this earnest prayer, and considers why he should not yield to these influences.

The psalm is especially appropriate to those who are in danger of being led astray by the acts of the wicked, or who are being tempted to associate with the irresponsible, the sensual, and the worldly, or to whom strong incentives are offered to mingle in their pleasures, their vices, and their wildness. They are probably those who before their conversion were the companions of the ungodly, and enjoyed participating in their unwholesome activities, but have been rescued from them.  They may have picked-up their habits of self-indulgence or sensuality, and now they feel the power of the habit returning to tempt them, and are invited by their former friends to join them again. They find themselves in the condition envisioned in the psalm, and will find its sentiments applicable to their experience.





1 Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.


Unto thee will I cry

David is conscious of being in danger—the danger of being drawn away from God and into the company of wicked men. In such circumstances he cannot rely upon his own strength or on his own faithfulness; or on his own heart or on his fellowmen. He felt that the only place where he could find safety was with God, and therefore, he earnestly prays for God to save him.


O Lord my rock

The idea in this expression is that he owed his safety entirely to God. He had been like a rock to him, a tower, a buckler, etc. (see Psalm 18:2)—that is, he had obtained from God the protection which a rock, a tower, a citadel, a buckler furnished to those who depended on them. The word "rock" here has reference to the fact that in times of danger a lofty rock would be sought as a place of safety, or that men would flee to it to escape from their enemies. Such rocks abounded in Palestine, and due to the fact that they are elevated and difficult to access, and because those who fled to them could find shelter behind their projecting crags, or since they could find security in their deep and dark caverns, they became places of refuge in times of danger; and they often provided protection when it could not be found in the plains or the forests below.


Be not silent to me

The idea is that of one who will not speak to us, or who will not listen or pay attention to us. We pray, and we expect God to "answer" our prayers, or, so to say, we expect God to "speak" to us; that is, for the Holy Spirit to express words of kindness; His Word to assure us of His favor, and declare our sins forgiven.


Lest, if thou be silent to me

If You do not answer my prayers.


I become like unto them that go down into the pit

The word "pit" is used figuratively for the grave and death, and sheol and hell (see Job 33:18, 24; Psalm 30:3Psalm 88:4Isaiah 38:18Isaiah 14:1519). But here it refers to the grave. The meaning is seems to be, if he did not obtain help from God he would probably die. His troubles would overwhelm and crush him. He could not bear up under them.



2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.


Hear the voice of my supplications

The psalmist is not offering mental prayer; it was a petition made audibly, and it came from the Spirit of grace and of supplication, and was expressed in a humble manner, with a sense of want and unworthiness, and on the basis of grace and mercy, and not merit.


When I cry unto thee

It was a loud cry for help, and he was determined to keep it up, until he was heard.


When I lift up my hands

Raising the hands and spreading them out towards heaven was the Hebrews’ usual position of prayer. It denotes supplication, and is the outward symbol of an uplifted heart. Consider the following verses:

  • And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven. (1 Kings 8:22)
  • And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease , neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD'S. (Ex. 9:29)
  • The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries. (Lam. 2:19)


Raising the hands in prayer was also the usual posture of the Greeks and other ancient people. Originally, the idea was probably that the hands should be ready to receive the blessings which God would bestow. But, later on, the lifting up of the hands seems to have been regarded as symbolizing the lifting up of the heart. The Jews raised their hands and faced the sanctuary at Jerusalem when they prayed, especially in later years. The Muslims pray towards Mecca, and the Samaritans towards the holy place at Mt. Gerizim.


In the New Testament, Paul encouraged all men to raise their hands when they prayed: “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Timothy 2:8)."Holy hands" means hands that are not defiled by sin, and that have not been employed for any wicked purpose. The idea is, that when men approach God they should do it in a pure and holy manner.


Toward thy holy oracle

The word "oracle" as used here denotes the place where the answer to prayer is given. The Hebrew word is “Debir,” which means the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle or the temple, the place where God was supposed to reside, and where He gave responses to the prayers of His people: the same place which is called the holy of holies in some passages. The idea here is that the person who prayed stretched out his hands toward that sacred place where God was supposed to dwell. So we stretch out our hands toward heaven—the sacred dwelling-place of God.


The Hebrew worshippers were not permitted to enter the temple, but worshipped "toward" it; that is, looking toward it, or prostrating themselves toward it as the special dwelling-place of God. If they were in the courts around the temple, they worshipped with their faces toward the place where God was supposed to reside; if they were far away, even in distant lands, they still directed their faces toward Jerusalem and the temple, as the Muslims now do toward Mecca. In Psalm 5:7, David said, “But as for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of your mercy: and in your fear will I worship toward your holy temple.”



3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.


Draw me not away with the wicked

At this point in His prayer, he expresses a strong desire not to be united with wicked people in sentiment or in destiny, in life or in death, on earth or in the future state. The reason for the prayer seems to have been that the psalmist, at this time was experiencing a strong temptation to associate with wicked persons, and feeling the force of the temptation, was afraid that he might "yield" to it, and become involved with them—socialize and spend time with them. Being deeply conscious of this danger, he earnestly prays that he would be kept from yielding to the power of the temptation, and fall into sin. The Saviour knew that we, like David, would face temptations in our lives, so in Matthew 6:13 He taught us to pray, "And lead us not into temptation." Anyone who desires to serve God should make this request daily. Today the temptations of the world are stronger than ever before, and the amusements in which the world indulges are so brilliant and fascinating (I-pads, computer games, the internet, etc.). Those who invite us to participate in their pleasures are often so elevated in their social position, so refined in their manners, and so cultivated by education—the list is long—and it includes athletes, movie stars and well-known entertainers. The inclinations of our hearts for such indulgences are naturally strong; habits formed before our conversion are still so powerful; and the prospect of worldly advantages from compliance with the customs of those around us are often so great that we cannot help but feel that it is proper for us to go to the throne of grace, and to plead earnestly with God that He will keep us from falling into the snare of temptation. This is especially true of those who before they were converted had indulged in alcohol and drugs, or in illicit sexual pleasures, and who are invited by their old companions in sin to join them again in their activities. All the power of the former habit returns, and there is a fierce struggle for victory between conscience and the old habits; those who are tempted in this way need the grace of God to keep them from “yielding.” This prayer is especially appropriate at this time; "Draw me not away with the wicked."



And with the workers of iniquity

“Workers of iniquity” are those people who do evil things—anything that God has designated sin in the Old and New Testaments. The Ten Commandments are still in effect. Jesus didn’t do away with them, He raised them to a new level. The command is, ‘thou shall not kill’; Jesus said, ‘if you are angry with him you have committed murder in your heart.’ The command is, ‘thou shall not commit adultery’; Jesus said, ‘if you lust, you have committed adultery in your heart.’ Realizing we have a sinful nature and are prone to sin, we avoid temptation when possible and pray, “Lord, keep me from temptation.”


Which speak peace to their neighbours

Often the “workers of iniquity” are friendly and likable. They "seem" to be encouraging you to do that which is for your own good, or something which will bring you enjoyment. They appear to be your friends; they profess to be so. They use flattering words while they tempt you to go astray. Their arguments are plausible and cloak their real motives, which are selfish and meant to bring you down to their level.


But mischief is in their hearts

We are describing here God-haters, not those who just ignore God and consider religion irrelevant, but those who don’t want it around, and will do what they can to disgrace it. They act like your friends but are secretly plotting your ruin; urging you to join them in something that will embarrass you and the church. They want to lead you into a situation where you are tempted and may fall into sin, so that you may dishonor religion, and disgrace your testimony. “Mischief” is too mild a word for the great harm they do: under plausible pretenses they tempt the good, corrupt and seduce the innocent, and they entice God’s friends in order to bring shame and reproach upon the cause of religion.



4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.


Give them according to their deeds

Give them their just deserts; deal righteously with them; recompense them as they deserve. It is proper for them to suffer as they have acted, that they reap what they have sown.


And according to the wickedness of their endeavours;

Do unto them as they have done to others; treat them according to the wickedness of their deeds, their schemes, their works, and their plans. Although wicked men do not always succeed; yet their lack of success does not excuse their wickedness.


Give them after the work of their hands

Reward them according to what they do, and deal with them as they have dealt with others. Paul had to deal with many wicked people; one of them was Alexander the coppersmith, of whom Paul said, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Timothy 4:14). This seems to have been the person mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20: “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” He was probably one of the Judaizing teachers, who violently opposed the true doctrine of the gospel. Paul wanted the “Lord to reward him according to his works”


Render to them their desert

Treat them according to what their wicked ways, in thought, word, and deed, deserve: such prayers are not contrary to that Christian goodwill which the Gospel recommends; nor do they indicate the presence of a spirit of revenge, which is condemned by the word of God; for it should be observed, that these things are said with respect to men who have a degenerate mind; and that the psalmist does not seek to avenge himself, nor to gratify his own mind; but he sought the glory of God, and moreover spoke by a prophetic spirit, knowing what the will of God was in this case (see verse 5); and therefore these petitions of his are not to be considered an example of common and ordinary cases.


This whole verse is a prayer that God would deal "justly" with them. There is no evidence that there is anything of vindictiveness or malice in the prayer. There is no impropriety in praying that "justice" may be done. This prayer is evidently a prophecy that God will, sooner or later, render to all unrepentant sinners according to what they deserve—see the next verse—also Psalm 5:10: “Destroy you them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against you.



5 Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.


Because they regard not the works of the Lord

The works of the Lord are numerous and wonderful: what the Lord does in creation; in his providence; through His commands and laws; and by His Spirit. The wicked do not find pleasure in His works; they ignore the signs of His will in His providential dealings; they do not listen to His commands; they do not yield to the influences of His Spirit. They made a serious error by overlooking “the works of the Lord,” for observing and understanding His works would have made them afraid of opposing God’s people, or of attempting to obstruct God’s plans for them. Matthew Henry correctly observed that “a stupid regardlessness of the works of God is the cause of the sin of sinners, and so becomes the cause of their ruin.” Why do men question God and His attributes? It is because they do not duly regard the “operations of his hands,” which declare his glory, and in which the invisible things of Him are clearly seen? Why do men forget Him, and live without Him, and insult Him, and rebel against him. It must be because they do not consider the occasions on which His wrath was “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men!” Why do the enemies of God’s people hate and persecute them, and concoct mischief against them: for no other reason than they do not regard the works God has wrought for his church, by which he has made it appear so very dear to him? Isaiah made a similar observation as the psalmist: “And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands” (Isaiah 5:12). Isaiah was referring to the punishment inflicted on the ten tribes who were carried into captivity; or else the works of creation and providence, and the daily mercies of life; or, best of all, the great work of redemption by Christ, and the conversion of sinners, both among Jews and Gentiles, by the preaching of his Gospel; for this refers to the Jews in the times of Christ and his apostles, which immediately preceded their utter destruction; and those sins mentioned in Isaiah 5:12 were the cause of it.



Nor the operation of his hands

What He is now doing, and which was nothing less than the work of His hands.


He shall destroy them

He will pull them down, instead of building them up. They shall be irrecoverably lost; they shall be punished with everlasting destruction; there will be no help or remedy for them.


And not build them up

He will not favor them; He will not give them prosperity. Health, happiness, and salvation are to be found only in conformity with the laws which God has ordained. Sooner or later, those who violate His Law will suffer calamity and ruin.



6 Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.


Blessed be the Lord

Suddenly the prayer becomes a song of praise, an act of adoration. This praise was founded upon a reason, which is indicated by the word “because” in the next clause. Real praise is established upon sufficient and compelling reasons; it is not irrational emotion, but rises from the depths of experience.  The psalmist, when he stood praying, believed that he would receive what he asked for, and, so, believing, he had it. There was no change in his circumstances, but he was changed. Now there was no fear of going down into the pit, and no dread of the evil-doers.


“Blessed be the Lord” must NOT be understood as conferring a blessing on Him, because a mere creature cannot bless God, nor does He need blessing, since He is El Shaddai, God all Mighty, God over all, blessed for ever; but as ascribing all blessedness to Him, congratulating Him for His greatness and happiness, and giving Him praise and glory for mercies received. 


because he hath heard the voice of my supplications

“Supplications,” is used here for humble prayer. He received a reply to his prayer—“Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle” (v. 2)—while he was speaking. Isaiah must have experienced the same immediate answer to his prayers: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24).  This may be, however, an expression of faith, David being fully persuaded that God heard his prayer, and would answer it, or it may be the expression of a prophetic spirit, knowing that what he had humbly asked for would be granted.


This is one of those passages which frequently occur in the Psalms, when there has been an earnest and eager prayer offered to God, and when the answer to the prayer seems to be immediate. The mind of the anxious and troubled petitioner becomes calm; the promises of God are brought directly to the soul; the peace which was sought is obtained; and he who began the psalm with great anxiety and a troubled mind, rejoices at the close of it because of the evidences of the divine favor and love. What thus happened to the psalmist frequently occurs today: I have experienced it. The answer to prayer comes immediately bringing calmness and assurance to the mind. The troubled spirit becomes calm; and whatever may be the result in other respects, the heart is made peaceful and unburdened, and feels the assurance that all will be well. It is sufficient for us to feel that God hears us, for if this is true, we have the assurance that all is well. In this sense, certainly, it is right to look for an immediate answer to our prayers.



7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped : therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.


The Lord is my strength

“The Lord” provides him with “strength” which is both the natural kind and the spiritual kind; that is, He gave him strength of body, and fortitude of mind, to bear up under all his trials; strength for his life, spiritual and earthly strength; and He strengthened his heart when he was under distress, and he knew that He would be his strength in the hour of his death, when his heart and strength would fail.


Some may question whether we can have the strength of Christ? Yes; His strength is made ours by faith. The Scripture frequently confirms that the Lord is our strength; God is our strength; The Lord Jehovah is our strength; Christ is our strength. Observe the following verses:

  • “For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off ? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43:2)
  • “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid : for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2)
  • “The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:19)
  • “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11)


Christ's strength is ours, given to us, so that we may be able to bear whatever happens to us. We can have the fullest confidence that he hears, will answer, and will save us. What a sweet comfort! If a man has a burden, he will be strengthened; if the burden is doubled, his strength will be tripled, and the burden will be lighter than it was before to his natural strength; so if our burdens are heavy, and we cry out to Him that we cannot bear them with our own strength, we will surely be able to bear them with the strength of Jesus Christ? Never think that Christ could not bear them?


And my shield

God was his “shield” to protect and defend him: to David, He was love, power, and faithfulness, and the Lord Jesus Christ was a shield, through His power and richness, His blood, righteousness, and salvation. “The Lord is my strength” inwardly, “and my shield” outwardly. Faith finds both these in Jehovah, and the one is not present without the other, for what is a shield without strength, or strength without a shield?


My heart trusted in him

The faith, hope, and comfort of the psalmist grew and increased through prayer; from complaining he goes to praying, from praying to believing; he did not trust in himself, not in his own heart, nor in his own righteousness and merits, but in the Lord as his strength and shield, and in the mercy of God; and not in the bare absolute mercy of God, but in the grace and goodness of God: “But I have trusted in your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).


And I am helped

My heart trusted in him, “and I am helped.” As far as feeling goes, David is already "helped." He feels he has been delivered out of danger. This was the fruit of his trust, a gracious experience of divine assistance. Saints are helpless in themselves, nor can they be helped by other men. God is the only helper they have; He helps them out of all their troubles, and He helps them achieve whatever he calls them to do. And the help he gives is sometimes quick, and always timely and appropriate; and sometimes with their assistance, and sometimes without them.



 Notice that he says, “I am helped”—he speaks of it as if it has already happened, because God assured him by his spirit, that he had heard and accepted his prayers—I have found the assistance which I desired.


Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth

I greatly rejoice. I am happy, and the ground for it was the assurance he had that the Lord would help him, the assurance of the divine favor which he desired, and his joy was great, a joy unspeakable, and full of glory; it was not carnal, but spiritual, a heart joy, joy in the Holy Ghost;


And with my song will I praise him

It is the duty of the Christian to praise God and glorify Him; it is pleasing to Him, and it becomes the saints to do so—it is a lovely and pleasant experience, especially when He extends them grace. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Ps. 69:30).  God is to be praised for his perfections and attributes by all his creatures, and especially his saints. The Messiah sung the praises of God with his disciples at the Last Supper, a little before his death; and in the great congregation in heaven, upon his ascension, having finished the great work of man's redemption. The saints are to praise Him with songs, which was the practice of the New testament Churches, according to Hebrews 2:12: “Saying, I will declare your name to my brothers, in the middle of the church will I sing praise to you.”



8 The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.


The LORD is their strength

“The Lord is their strength”—The Hebrew is, “their strength,” or “strength to them.” The reference is to the people of God. The thought seems to be that the psalmist, having himself received assistance or strength from God, turns his thoughts from this fact to the general idea that God was the “strength” of "all" who were in similar circumstances; or that all His people might confide in Him as he had done.Thus, the Lord is not only the strength of David in particular, but of all his people in general. In another psalm, David wrote: “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39).Salvation comes to the righteous from the Lord. While the wicked are cut off, the righteous shall be safe. There are evidently two ideas here:

  1. That there will be salvation for the righteous, while the wicked are cut off.
  2. That this comes from the Lord, and not from themselves.


And he is the saving strength

“And he is the saving strength”—literally, He is a Stronghold of salvation to his anointed. Salvation is literally great and manifold deliverance: “Great deliverance gives he to his king; and shows mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for ever more” (Psalm 18:50). The welfare of David and that of the people are bound up together. God strengthens him for their sakes, so that he may guide them rightly and correctly, and fight their battles, and give them power over their enemies. It was with this objective that he chose David out of all Israel, and took him from the sheepfolds, and had him anointed king—so that he might “feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance” (Psalm 78:71).


“He is the saving strength”—that is, In Him is found the strength which produces salvation. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).The Lord is the strength of my life—the support of my life. Or, in other words, He keeps me alive. In itself life is feeble and uncertain, and is easily crushed out by trouble and sorrow; but as long as God is its strength, there is nothing to fear.


Of his anointed.

The primary reference here is doubtless to the psalmist himself, as before, as one who had been anointed by Samuel and set apart to the kingly office; but the context shows that he intended to include all the people of God, as those whom He had consecrated or set apart to His service. But if he is not speaking of himself, he may mean the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed, whom He heard, helped, and strengthened in the day of salvation, and delivered Him from the power of death and the grave, and raised Him on the third day, and gave him glory—“Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand” (Psalm 20:6).


As His saints we are special and precious to Him, for he has said of us: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:5, 9).



9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.


Save thy people

The psalm began with petitions for himself,and he closes it with prayers for the people of God; the nation of Israel whom God has chosen for his people, taken into covenant with Him, and given them his Son for their Messiah. He has resolved to save them, and has appointed Christ as their Messiah, and sent Him into the world, to be the Saviour of all that “believeth in Him.” This verse is a prayer of faith, as are the petitions in the following clauses.It is a prayer for all the people offered in view of the deliverance which the psalmist had personally experienced, and he prays that all the people of God might experience similar deliverance and mercy.


And bless thine inheritance

This request is also applied to the people of Israel, as the “possession” or “property” of Yahweh; as a people whom he regarded as His own, and whom, as such, He protected: “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day” (Deuteronomy 4:20). Here the people of God are spoken of as His special possession or property on earth; as that which He regards as very valuable and precious to Him; as that which belongs to Him, or to which He has a claim; as that which cannot without causing Him great sadness be alienated from Him.


Feed them also

“Feed them also,” as the shepherd does his flock, by leading them into green pastures, by giving them the bread of life, by nourishing them with the word and ordinances, by the means or his ministering servants, who are under-shepherds appointed to feed the saints with knowledge and understanding. Bless them with all those things needed for life and for godliness. The Hebrew word used here for “Feed them” refers to the care which a shepherd provides for his flock—“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1). The prayer is that God would take the same care of His people that a shepherd takes of his flock.


Another meaning for the request is that God rule over them, direct their decisions and actions and overrule their affairs for good. Set pastors over them that shall feed and rule them with wisdom and understanding: “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15).


And lift them up for ever

“Lift them up” may mean "sustain" them, or "support" them; but it more accurately means "bear," and would be best expressed by a reference to the fact that the shepherd carries the feeble, the young, and the sickly of his flock in his arms, or that he lifts them up when they are unable themselves to rise. Consider these verses:

  • Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. (Isaiah 40:11)
  • My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. (Isaiah 63:8-9)


 The word "forever" simply means “always”—in all circumstances; at all times. In other words, the psalmist prays that God would “always” manifest Himself as the Friend and Helper of His people, as He had done for him. Now we can add what the psalmist prays for his people, that is, what he prays for God’s will to be for His people:

  • God will save His people
  • He will bless His heritage
  • He will be to them a kind and faithful shepherd
  • He will sustain, comfort, uphold, and cherish them always—in affliction; in temptation; in death, forever.


They have only to trust in Him, and they will find Him to be more kind and faithful than the tenderest shepherd ever was to his flock. But, only those whom God feeds and rules, who are willing to be taught, guided, and governed by him, shall be saved, and blessed, and lifted up for ever—the saints be lifted up for ever, never more to sink or be depressed.