The Lord is my Shepherd in Suffering

How to Cite

Vos, C. . (2020). The Lord is my Shepherd in Suffering. Old Testament Essays, 33(3), 621 - 633. Retrieved from


Although Ps 23 can be called a psalm of trust, its purpose is to impart comfort in concrete life. In times of sorrow and crisis, this psalm has struck home. The article starts by reading Ps 23 as composition, then turns to the reception history, and finally shows the resonance of this psalm in two contemporary poems. A network of metaphors is built around the shepherd motif. The motif of the shepherd is a central metaphor in this psalm. This motif is also found elsewhere in the OT. The shepherd takes care of his flock. This shepherd is identified as Yahweh. In the structure of Ps 23, v. 4b is the axis, as it is demonstrated by its occurrence precisely in the middle of the psalm. “You are with me.” This confession is the heartbeat of the psalm. The second part of v. 4b indicates that the presence of Yahweh is a protective presence. Yahweh is not only the shepherd, but also the host who prepares a table before his guest. Yahweh also anoints the poet’s head with oil before the commencement of the meal. The poet’s cup overflows. Goodness and love will follow him. All the days of his life, he will experience the presence and protection of Yahweh. In the following part, the reception history of Psalm 23 is elucidated. The echoes of Ps 23 can be heard in two of my poems that were written in Afrikaans and superbly translated into English by the renowned translator, poet and novelist, Leon de Kock.


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