"You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies." (Psalm 23:5a, NIV) Growing up in the church, I memorized the 23rd Psalm pretty early in life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I grasped a richer meaning of this line. Initially, I thought that it was saying that God provides for us even in the midst of our enemies, which He does. However, a friend of mine pointed out that it’s much more than that. Preparing a table connotes fellowship and community, a thought which completely transformed this phrase in my head. Our Shepherd creates an atmosphere where we can have community even when we’re among our enemies. The difference between simply providing for us and fostering community for us is huge.
At this point in my life, I’m not sure I could name any personal enemies, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of interpersonal struggles. Not too long ago, I found myself worked up about a situation that I thought I had already worked through to forgiveness and restoration. I was re-struggling with my frustrations and hurts and wrestling with God as to why this was all coming up again. Finally, after a couple of days spent rehashing my feelings with God, I reached a point that I no longer wanted to hold on to those things, and I just let them go. The peace that God gave me in that moment was profound, but I was still puzzled as to why God had me go through all that again. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. A week later, I was with this same person and genuinely felt love and compassion for them that I hadn’t felt before.
This new love and compassion didn’t come from having another session with them of digging up the past. It came from the Shepherd’s preparing that table of fellowship and true community. Re-visiting the struggle and pain with Him brought me to a point of surrender, and He blessed me with deeper love, compassion, and fellowship.
Once again I am in awe of His attention to the details in my life…like setting the table.
Warmly in Christ, Joy McAuley
For Reflection: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 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." (Psalm 23:5-6, NIV)
When has God prepared fellowship with you and your “enemies”?
Are there relationships or situations from the past where you are resisting letting go of your past hurts? What is God asking of you in those situations?
Prayerfully read through the above verses. What is God bringing to the front of your mind as you meditate on those verses?