Posted by: Heather | November 11, 2010

Psalm 23 – A Table Prepared


Psalm 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:  thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

(Here are links to the previous parts of this series:  Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 3, Verse 4 – Part 1, Verse 4 – Part 2 ).

In the previous two lessons, we’ve been studying how Jesus, our Good Shepherd, takes care of us during the darkest times of our lives.  He brings us through trials even when we can’t see Him, and He uses adverse conditions to draw us closer to Him and bring defects in our character to the surface to be dealt with.  As we go through the deep valleys, we learn to gain more and more trust in the Shepherd that attends to our every need…in good times and bad.

Sometimes it seems the days of traveling the valley will never end.  But, there will come a time when we can leave the valley behind, and begin the ascent to the mountaintop.  When we have overcome that deepest, darkest place, the road will begin to go up again, taking us toward the summit of the highest peak.  We’ve left our enemy in the valley, and this is where God spreads a table before us…a feast of His blessings and provision after the storm.

Verse 5 is a very interesting passage.  Hebrew is a language that is based in word pictures.  We don’t generally think this way in English.  But, Hebrew is a very pictorial language, so when we can see the pictures behind the words, it brings a much clearer meaning to the scripture.  In Hebrew, when this verse says ‘he preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies’, it goes much further than it sounds in English.  The picture behind this phrase is that we have left our enemy in the valley below, and we are then able to feast on this great smorgasbord put before us.  We’re able to eat even in the presence of our enemy.  He can still see us, but we’re able to eat near him because he is doubled over in pain (as in cramps), and is unable to touch us any more.  The pain has disabled him, and therefore he’s lost his ability to prevent us from enjoying the banquet God has prepared for us.

The definition of ‘before’ is face-to-face.  God prepares a table ‘face to face’ with us.  This is the relationship God has ordained His children to have with Him…face to face.  We’re not to have anything else face to face with Him.  When believers give in to any type of idol worship, it’s the same as putting another god face to face with the true God, which is in effect a dysfunctional spiritual relationship.  This banquet is also a wonderful picture of the wedding supper…the great banquet prepared for the bride of Christ at the end of the age.

Verse 5 also speaks of how He anoints our head with oil when we come into a face to face relationship with Him.  Anointing was a specific process in biblical times.  When a high priest or king was anointed, they didn’t just get a little smudge of oil on their head, like we think of anointing in the church world today.  The olive oil was poured over the head, and ran down the face, signifying the fact that this person was set apart for a specific task and purpose.  They were to be used in the service of God.  Olive oil is used many times in scripture as a foreshadowing of the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.

As the oil flows over my head, ‘my cup runneth over’.  ‘Cup’ here refers to a glass full of wine that is full to the point of overflow.  Wine is another biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit.  As the anointing of God’s Spirit flows over and out of us, our lives overflow in every area.  There is enough of God for all we need, and plenty to spare.  Giving and ministering to others is the natural outflow of a life in close relationship with and anointed by God.

As we continue to climb the mountain, we look forward to our final destination, which is eternity with Jesus.  The path keeps leading upward.   There is even more to look forward to as we continue our journey on the path with the Good Shepherd.

The next post will be the final segment in this series on Psalm 23.  God bless you!


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