I Am Secure
A psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Today we are talking about the 23rd Psalm. More specifically, we are discussing the 5th verse of the psalm.
Today’s sermon is the 4th in a series of sermons on the 23rd Psalm. The series is entitled, “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking To It.”
The psalms are intensely personal prayers, or hymns. They were written as songs with harps and singers, and like a song the emphasis is on an emotional connection. The psalms are really like songs of praise or love songs to God (Yahweh).
Today’s verse looks at the covenant relationship in terms of God’s provision and the safety of God’s protection.
THEOLOGY OF THE PSALMS
Although the psalms are quite diverse, one theme pervades them all: God is King. His dominion extends throughout the universe because He created and sustained it. This reign will never end because He is eternal and all-powerful.
In His sovereignty, this Great King chose Israel to be His people. He revealed himself to them by a special name, Yahweh, and linked Israel with himself by a covenant. Initiated with Abraham (see Genesis 12 , 15, 17), God expanded this covenant with Moses (Exodus–Deuteronomy). In essence, Yahweh promised to serve as a faithful king over Israel in return for its worship and obedience
Lennox, S. J. (1999). Psalms: a Bible commentary in the Wesleyan tradition (p. 21). Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.
5 You prepare before me a table in the presence of my oppressors. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.
When we put our trust in God, Psalm 23:5 reminds us that He can and will do everything to provide what you need, when you need it, until your soul feels satisfied. Even if you have walked through a dark valley, perhaps the darkest of all valleys ever, God will lead you through it so you successfully reach the other side. The danger will be behind you, and you will transition into His marvelous light.
It is then, after you leave the valley, you will find His holy table. The table illustrates abundance, satisfaction, and everlasting love. God’s people can feast at His table of endless love and grace and no enemy of any sort can ever take it away. They can only feel annoyed that you were victorious and prosperous in spite of them.
You prepare a table
You prepare a table
Here the second allegory begins. A magnificent banquet is provided by a most liberal and benevolent host; who has not only the bounty to feed me, but power to protect me; and, though surrounded by enemies, I sit down to this table with confidence, knowing that I shall feast in perfect security. This may refer to the favor God gave the poor captive Israelites in the sight of the Chaldeans who had grievously treated them for seventy years; and whose king, Cyrus, had not only permitted them now to return to their own land, but had also furnished them with every thing requisite for their passage, and for repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and rebuilding the temple of the Lord, where the sacrifices were offered as usual, and the people of God feasted on them.
The image is now changed, though expressing the general idea which is indicated in the first verse of the psalm, “I shall not want.” The evidence or proof of this in the previous verses is, that God was a shepherd, and would provide for him as a shepherd does for his flock; the evidence here is that God had provided a table, or a feast, for him in the very presence of his enemies, and had filled his cup with joy. The word “table” here is synonymous with “feast;” and the meaning is, “thou providest for my wants.” There “may” be an allusion here to some particular period of the life of the psalmist, when he was in want, and when he perhaps felt an apprehension that he would perish, and when God had unexpectedly provided for his wants; but it is impossible now to determine to what occasion he thus refers. There were numerous occasions in the life of David which would be well represented by this language, “as if” God had provided a meal for him in the very “presence” of his foes, and in spite of them.
30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Arno Clemens Gaebelein (August 27, 1861 – December, 1945) was a Methodist minister in the United States. He was a prominent teacher and conference speaker.
"Here we can think of the Lord's table where the bread and the wine are symbols of his love. As we worship at that table, we remember him the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. We show forth the Lord's death till he come. The Lord himself is with us in the assembly; and there are onlookers. Our enemies are also looking on! The table spread telling forth his conquering love is the Table of Victory."
We as faithful followers find that God not only provides, but does so despite the circumstances we are in. God also provides generously and abundantly.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.
The imagery of the great banquet here is an integral part of the whole Biblical panorama that includes: "Joseph's feeding Israel (Genesis 43:34), Jesus' feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:19), the parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24), and that of the marriage feast of the Bridegroom (Matthew 22:1-14; Revelation 19:9)."
Anoint my Head
Anoint my Head
The second half of verse five says, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Any time we read in the Bible of the anointing of something or someone, it’s a beautiful illustration of God’s blessing. But, it’s not just a blessing for the moment or even in your current situation.
According to Bible scholar Matthew Henry and his complete commentary of the Bible written in 1710, God’s anointing in this verse refers to Him blessing you for your entire life with the Holy Spirit so much that your cup of salvation overflows. His anointing isn’t just to meet your needs, but also to give you “ornament and delight.”
In other words, after bringing you through the dark valley, you can look forward to the victory of reaching the Lord’s table and His anointing with the Holy Spirit. Did you catch that? There’s victory when you reach the other side. It’s almost as if God pats you on the back and says, “Well done!” simply because you hung in there and trusted Him. Hallelujah!
The whole experience serves to strengthen our faith, draw us closer to our heavenly Father, and to realize just how faithful He truly is. If we can grab hold of that, then we can boldly proclaim without any hesitation the truth of verse six:
Giving him an abundance of good things, not only for necessity, but for pleasure and delight; especially pouring out largely upon him the oil of gladness, the Spirit of God and his graces, the anointing which teaches all things, and filling him with spiritual joy and comfort; for this refers not to the anointing of David with material oil for the kingdom, by Samuel, while Saul was living, or by the men of Judah, and afterwards by all the tribes of Israel, when Saul was dead. The allusion is to the custom of the eastern countries, at feasts, to anoint the heads of the guests with oil;
This reflects preparation and honor. This is not a quick meal. It is a well-prepared feast for an honored guest.
My Cup is Overflowing
My Cup is Overflowing
With regard to “a cup that runneth over,” several places in the New Testament talk about Jesus Himself being our food and drink (John 6:55). It talks about how we are to gain eternal life by eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:54). And those who do this will have “rivers of living water” (the Holy Spirit) flowing from them (John 7:37-39), water that they can share with others.
Let’s look at Jesus example for a moment. Remember the story of Him and the Samaritan woman at the well. It is an interesting interaction that we should read through from time to time because there is some very important information given there. But what really stands out to me is, again, Jesus started talking to her about Him giving water that “shall be a well…springing up unto eternal life” (John 4:14). What is of note to me is, Jesus was always sharing His spiritual cup with others. Look at all the healings He did. Look at all the miracles, blessings, and gifts He gave to those who sought Him. Jesus was always pouring out of His cup into the cup of others. It occurs to me that, as His disciples, we should be doing the same.
The message echoed in each passage is that of God’s excessive grace and provision for every area of our lives. He is not stingy, nor are His blessings confined to temporal things. In Christ we can have overflowing joy, overflowing love, and overflowing peace. We can bear everlasting fruit for God’s kingdom, and we can overcome impossible challenges when the Holy Spirit fills our hearts until our “cup runneth over.”
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
God’s grace and mercy are not limited. Even in the presence of adversity - our enemies - God not only meets our needs, he exceeds them. He prepares a full feast, with the additional measure of anointing oil, and fills our cup to overflowing. This is the generosity of our God.