Psalm 23:5 – Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
A shepherd who comes to a new field uproots poisonous plants, searches for evidence of predators, and "prepares" it by pouring thick oil around the viper holes he finds, producing a surface too slick for the vipers to pass over. Before he leads the sheep onto the new, green field, he also spreads the oil over each sheep's head — in that sense he "anoints" them with his oil — to act as a malodorous repellent to drive away any vipers that manage to come near. Therefore, in a very literal sense, the shepherd prepares the table — the meadow — and the sheep are able to graze in the enemy's presence.
Many aspects of our lives involve potential dangers, but we are insulated from the full force of evil through our Shepherd's protective mercy. Frequently, with 20/20 hindsight, we can see how we and our environment have been groomed for our eventual healthy growth although we are rarely aware of those loving preparations at the time.
And how abundantly are we loved! As Haddon Robinson writes of the overflowing cup:
- With Him the calf is always the fatted calf; the robe is always the best robe; the joy is unspeakable; and the peace passes understanding. There is no grudging in God's goodness. He does not measure His goodness by drops like a druggist filling a prescription. It comes to us in floods. If only we recognized the lavish abundance of His gifts, what a difference it would make in our lives! If every meal were taken as a gift from His hand, it would be almost a sacrament.
Prayer: Shepherd me, O Lord, beyond my wants, beyond my limited understanding. Help me to walk by faith in the life You have prepared for me, quenching my continuous thirst from Your overflowing cup. Amen.