Psalm 23 and the Sermon the Mount are one of the most significant Biblical pieces known to mankind. Despite being widely known, their significance is different as their narrative comes from different perspectives at the same time with conveying different messages that have become the basis of the Christian religion.
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The setting of Psalm 23 takes place in two different spaces: the inner soul and the outside world. The notions that exist in the real world are the symbolical means of showing what the speaker experiences inside the soul. This is why the setting of the Psalm seems unrealistic because in some passages it goes straight to the world of symbols like the “valley of the shadow of death” and “the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23, n.d., para. 1). The “valley of the shadow of death” is certainly the most significant and recognizable image in the poem. However, the last two lines offer a complete shift in the setting. The pastoral images are substituted by social images.
Psalm 23 has two extended analogies: between God and a shepherd, and the speaker and a part of a flock. The point of these two metaphors is to show that God looks after his flock. Moreover, in ancient times, a profession of a shepherd was an important profession thus the metaphor was close to the audience. In the second line of Psalm 23, the “green pastures” symbolize nourishment as sheep feed themselves with grass. The “quiet waters” also refer to nourishment as well as peace. Thus, according to Psalm 23, God brings nourishment and peace to the soul of the speaker that is metaphorically compared to a sheep.
The Sermon of the Mount, on the other hand, is a ‘lecture’ given by Jesus on the most significant principles of how one is to live a life. These moral principles are characterized by the belief and devotion to God. The emphasis of the teachings is put on one’s heart or soul, a characteristic that is also included in Psalm 23. However, Psalm 23 does not give any particular instructions about how one is supposed to go through life. The Sermon of the Mount puts an emphasis on the personal patience and righteousness, for example, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council” (Matthew 5:7, n.d., para. 6).
Jesus goes on with telling other commands that include adultery, oath-taking, hating your enemies, and retaliation. This feature of the Sermon of the Mount is what makes it different from any other Biblical passage, including Psalm 23. It created the fundamental principles, the Ten Commandments that are to be followed by every Christian. The sermon presents a clear image of what a relationship between God and Christians entails in order to be accepted by the Lord’s invitation to the kingdom of heaven (Mahoney, 2008, para. 16).
Thus, despite Psalm 23 and the Sermon of the Mount being the most significant Christian writings, their differences lie in the style of the narrative as well as the messages conveyed. While Psalm 23 is a metaphoric representation of the relationship between God and his followers, the Sermon of the Mount gives specific instructions about how a Christian must live one’s life in order to be in Lord’s favor.
Mahoney, J. (2008). The Meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. Web.
Matthew 5:7. (n.d.). Web.
Psalm 23. (n.d.). Web.