In the preface to this book, Timothy Cross questions how many Christians really understand the meaning of the 23rd psalm – and then sets out to put matters right. Taking each verse in turn, he carefully explains its literal application to sheep and shepherding in the original Middle Eastern context, and then goes on to discuss its spiritual application to the Christian – in the light of David's life experiences and of other passages of Scripture which use the same metaphors. These turn out to be surprisingly numerous and rich in content, especially those related to the first four verses of the psalm – the green pastures, the still waters, the right paths, the valley of the shadow, the rod and the staff.
Cross attempts, however, to maintain his analysis to the end of the psalm on sheep/shepherding lines – as others have done before him. Thus the imagery of the table, the anointing with oil, and the cup continues to be applied to the sheep. This, as Derek Kidner points out in his commentary, makes little sense, although the value of the metaphors as applied to the believer remains.
Taken as a whole, the book does indeed offer "fresh insights into a favourite psalm". Cross writes straightforwardly and without pretension, in keeping with his description of Psalm 23 as "an open and honest testimony to David's own personal experience". The author's frequent cross-references to the Westminster Shorter Catechism are also illuminating.
This book is available to purchase from DayOne.
Donald Mackay, Knox Church, Perth