“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalms 23:5 NIV)
A good many of us, myself included, have never truly known what it means to go hungry. Oh, I’ve said, “I’m starving!” many times, but that usually just meant I had chosen to fast, or that supper was an hour later than normal. It can be hard for people like myself to fully comprehend what it means to be truly hungry. This psalm is a promise, however. No matter how bare the cupboard and the refrigerator, no matter how empty the bank account or the wallet, God is the One who prepares! It isn’t about how much we have (or don’t have!), it’s about His provision!
I read a story recently about a family who had absolutely no food in the house whatsoever. The father insisted they all sit down to an empty table at supper time. He then instructed the family to bow their heads, and he proceeded to thank God for their food. Much to the consternation of his hungry family, he continued to pray and thank God for their food for the next 15 minutes…Until the doorbell rang. It was someone with a full load of groceries! God was their provision.
What really strikes me as interesting with this verse, however, is that not only does God prepare the table, but He does so, “In the presence of my enemies”!
I don’t know about you, but when I’m faced with trouble, I am not particularly hungry! I’m far too worried about the problem to think about eating! My wife, on the other hand, tends to snack when she’s facing trouble. The wording here, however, is even more interesting: God prepares a table in the presence of our enemies! He isn’t just handing my wife a bag of chips to snack on! He’s sitting us down to a full-course meal! In the presence of our enemies! That’s because in the midst of our troubles, God knows something we don’t realize: The enemy is defeated! He no longer has any power over us, so why not eat a full meal?
And in case you didn’t quite understand the significance of sitting down to a full meal in the presence of your enemies, the verse goes on to say, “my cup overflows”! That means that despite the trouble, God is pouring out His blessings upon me!
I have often wondered about the next line of this verse: “You anoint my head with oil…” I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of having oil over my head… How is this supposed to be comforting?
One of the many pests that can attack sheep is a tiny fly. It lays its eggs on the sheep, usually around the head, and within 24 hours the eggs hatch and the larvae burrow down into the skin. This drives the sheep crazy! Shepherds in Bible days would pour oil over the head of their sheep to keep the flies away, and Psalms 23:5 tells us that God pours oil – often used in the Bible to represent the Holy Spirit – over us in order to keep the devil and his minions from hurting us!
Are you a worrier? I tend to be. Yet when you read these words, you realize what a waste of time worrying really is! God truly loves us. Not only does He provide for us, but He does so even when we are in the darkest valleys! Our blessings overflow, and His Spirit covers us to protect us from the evils of the devil. We truly have no need to worry! Ever!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)