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Faithlife Corporation

A Few More Thoughts from the 23rd Psalm

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Turning to ‘the Shepherd Psalm’, we focus our attention on verse 5: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’. We are to feast on God’s Word. We are to be filled with God’s Spirit. The ‘table’ is the place of feasting. ‘Oil’ is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As we feast on God’s Word, we will have good cause to say, again and again, ‘God is good’: His ‘goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life’ (6). The Lord never fails us. He always comes with His life-giving Word, the Word of life, through which our life on earth becomes the beginning of life eternal, the pathway to a life in which the fullness of God’s love will be revealed in a way that we can hardly begin to imagine: ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ (6). This is what Christ is preparing for us (John 14:2)!

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

When we think of the Table of our Lord Jesus Christ - His body broken for us and His blood shed for us, let us never forget this:

“when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).

As we “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11), let us not forget to pray for those who do not yet know the Saviour:

They all joined together constantly in prayer … about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 1:14; 2:41).

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies… my cup overflows’ (Psalm 23:5).

The life of holiness is not an expression of our own moral virtue. It is an expression of the holy character of God being reproduced in us: ‘I am the Lord who sanctify you’ (Leviticus 20:8). God wants us for Himself – This is why we must not live the world’s way: ‘I the Lord am … holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine’ (Leviticus 20:26). God has a great purpose for us: ‘You shall inherit their land… I will give it to you, a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Leviticus 20:24). ‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly… in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the pathway to holiness: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

We sing our song of praise and thanksgiving. Our enemies are never far away!

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (Psalm 23:5).

The presence of our enemies – this is never removed. It’s always there. There is, however, another Presence – the Presence of the Lord.

“Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here” – This is what we must remember when the presence of our enemies threatens to overwhelm us.

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-4).

Here on earth, we are always “in a foreign land”. We haven’t yet arrived safely at our heavenly home. In this “foreign” land, we are called to keep on singing the songs of the Lord. We live in an atmosphere of rebellion. Let us keep on praying that God will send revival.

Can depressing situations be turned out? – Our hope is not in ourselves. It is in the Lord. He is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:2).

Feasting on God’s Word

In ‘the Shepherd Psalm’ (Psalm 23), we read, in verse 5,: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’. We are to feast on God’s Word. We are to be filled with God’s Spirit. The ‘table’ is the place of feasting. ‘Oil’ is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As we feast on God’s Word, we will have good cause to say, again and again, ‘God is good’: ‘His goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life’ (6). The Lord never fails us. He always comes with His life-giving Word, the Word of life, through which our life on earth becomes the beginning of life eternal, the pathway to a life in which the fullness of God’s love will be revealed in a way that we can hardly begin to imagine: ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’(6). This is what Christ is preparing for us (John 14:2)!

“My cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5).

The overflowing cup is not a good thing when you spill your drink and you have to clean up the mess!

The overflowing heart is always a good thing.

When your heart is overflowing with the joy of the Lord, this will bring brightness into the lives of the people you meet.

The spilling of a drink isn’t a good thing.

The spilling over of the joy of the Lord is something very precious. it is something to be treasured.

This is something we must earnestly seek – the overflowing joy of the Lord.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

How is our joy in the Lord to be increased?

We must think often of the Lord. We must think of what He has already done for us in this life – “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). We must think of what He will do for us in the world to come – “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

As we think of Him, let us thank Him. As our thanksgiving increases, our joy will increase.

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 23:6).

  • To the sheep, Jesus says,”Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
  • To the goats, He says, ”Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

Jesus isn’t speaking about animals. He’s speaking about people.

What He will say to us on that Day depends on what we say to Him on this day.

On that Day, He will say “Come” or He will say “Depart.”

On this day, will we say “Come” or will we say “Depart”?

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

God has given us a glimpse of a future which is heavenly, eternal and glorious: ‘the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God – It shone with the glory of God.’ Is this ‘eternal life’ for everyone? Will all people ‘dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’? Will everyone be saved. Is this what the Word of God teaches? ‘God wants everyone to be saved’. He wants everyone to ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’, to ‘come to repentance’. Sadly, there are many who ‘refuse to love the truth and so be saved’ (Revelation 21:10-11; John 3:16; Psalm 23:6; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). Who will be saved? – ‘only those, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life’. ‘Come’ to Christ – ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they…may go through the gates into the city’ (Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:17,14).

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