May 27, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for your support in prayer each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival. Ray Stedman, who is now at home with his Lord, once said, “Spending quality time with God, talking to Him and listening for His response, helps us center our thoughts and prioritize our tasks.” May it be so as we talk to Him today.
Psalm 23:5, which is rich with imagery, speaks of a table, an anointing, and a cup. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5).
A table represents bounty, provision, fullness, and enjoyment. When God prepares a table, you can be sure that there is an abundance of all these things. The Bible has stories to help us understand. The story of the prodigal son is an example of this. When the son returned absolutely destitute, expecting nothing more than to be a servant, the father insists on treating him royally. He provides the best robe, a ring for his finger, shoes for his feet, and then he commands, “And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate” (Luke 15:23). A table of plenty! A table of feasting! A table of celebration! Because our sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ, we too, sit at this table!! Rejoice with me!
What about Old Testament history? Mephibosheth, who was in the distant barren land of Lo-debar, afraid, and alone, was brought by kindness to the table of David the king. David’s words were few but meaningful, “You shall eat at my table always” (2 Samuel 9:7). Wow! The blessing of the table we sit at is not just the amount of good food, but the one who sits with us. We get to live our lives sitting with our Savior-Shepherd.
One might think that this is what is waiting for us when we reach the other side and enjoy His eternal presence. Interestingly, it says, “In the presence of my enemies.” That tells me that this table is spread here and now. God wants the enemy to know that our fullness is found in Him alone.
The second imagery used in this verse is anointing oil. The psalmist says, “You anoint my head with oil.” What was he referring to? Was it the ancient Near Eastern custom of the host anointing the heads of guests with fragrant oil? This practice symbolized honor and protection. Protection from God is blessed. Or was it a reference to the practice of shepherds who poured oil mixed with other substances on the head of the sheep, in order to keep the dangerous flies from laying their eggs in the animals' skin? The care God gives His children is beautiful. Or was he thinking of the priests of old, whose heads were anointed in consecration for the work before them? Perhaps all of these were on David’s mind, or maybe he was thinking back to that day when he was rushed from the care of his father’s sheep, as the family stood around and watched the prophet Samuel pour oil upon his head, anointing him as Israel’s future king. The Scriptures confirm, “And from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1 Samuel 16:13).
When you read of someone being anointed by oil in Scripture it means God has a special work for that person, whether a priest or a king. David reminds us that God has anointed your head with oil. He has set you apart like David and has given you the Holy Spirit to empower, enable, and equip you for the task assigned. Move forward in the strength of your God today!
The last imagery used in this verse is the overflowing cup. It suggests that there is more content than there is container to hold it. From the unlimited supply of God’s fullness, our lives can have fresh inflow and abundant overflow all the time. When God fills your cup, you can be sure it will overflow in worship.
It’s His table, but it’s my cup! The idea is that our God fills the table and He also fills the cup. My cup is my life, and your cup is your life. If we let God do the filling, then our cups will overflow. The outflow of our lives will depend on what we allow God to pour in and His resources are limitless. As we receive His mercy, His mercy will flow out. As we receive His grace, His grace will overflow. As we receive His love, His love will mark our every action. Paul speaks to the believers in Philippi, he says, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding” (Philippians 1:9). Let us hold up our cups for God to fill today!
Thanks again for praying,
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel