Just as Ps. 8 is an oasis amid laments that focuses our attention on the glorious creation, so Ps. 23 is another oasis focusing our attention on the paths of righteousness that are the goodness and grace of God, which cannot be broken through by adversity.
This perspective casts further light on the ambiguous preposition neged of 23:5. If the oil and wine of the table prepared is the righteous path of life that God lays down for the sake of his name, neged truly means “against”
the adversary of fear—that is, against the fear of losing one’s moral and spiritual grounding in the face of adversity. This is the fear that is stilled by the care-taking shepherd. The “sheep” lack nothing (23:1) because God supplies the need that truly enables them to dwell in his house throughout their lives.
The tracks for a morally strong life are secure. This reading carries us back to Ps. 1 that links happiness to God’s teaching. Considered in light of Ps. 23, that happiness is the freedom from the fear that one might become one of the evil ones whose deeds and malevolent aspirations haunt the lament psalms.