We often rush through familiar passages of Scripture and miss the treasures they offer. They’ve become commonplace. Psalm 23 is a prime example. But if we slow down and picture the scene, wonderful things happen.
The fifth line of the Psalm reads: “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” Now there’s a truth with transforming power. I imagine any number of experiences King David had could stand behind these words—boyhood experiences as a shepherd, the peace of mind he enjoyed in spite of prowling threats to himself and his sheep, or more likely God’s provision and tender care for David while King Saul attempted to track and kill him and later when he was surrounded by menacing enemies of war.
And yet in the midst of constant threats David experienced a “table in their presence.” Imagine it for a moment. A ‘table’ speaks of rest, of provision, of safety, of security and well-being. And yet this is experienced “in the presence” of enemies who intend him harm and of circumstances of want and experienced losses. This is no military ration eaten on the run under the fire of enemy combatants. This is something more, something transcendent of the ebb and flow of fortune and creaturely comforts, something that cannot be threatened, a table of God’s own making, a feasting upon God’s own presence, an undisturbed shalom at the heart of the storm. This is the Old Testament equivalent of Philippians 3.14:
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
And 1Peter 1.6-9:
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an unspeakable and glorious joy.”
And especially Romans 8.35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered’. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Whatever your storm or struggle, whatever threats press in upon you, whatever enemies conspire—nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ, and by that I mean the experience of the love of God in Christ. God is your table in the presence of enemies. May you perceive this table as the truest thing about your life and circumstances, learn to take your place at its side and enjoy feasting upon its provision.
A blessed 2015 to you all.