In the Presence of the Hateful (Psalm 23:5-6)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. —Psalm 23:5-6
It has been sweet to bask in the comfort of the twenty-third psalm these past few weeks. It is here that we are drawn into David’s description of the compassionate care of his Good Shepherd. Jesus cares for David intimately. And, like David, what child of God would reject this Good Shepherd’s presence? In his presence, we have no wants. We have calmness and rest, and we are led by still waters. So comforting is Jesus’ intimate care for His children that they can declare with confidence, “I have no fear of evil,” while walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Oh, how we need to rehearse this truth, that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is with us in every situation!
Why then do I struggle with fear?
I fear for my family. I fear for my health. I fear for my safety. I fear for my freedoms. I fear for my life. I fear man! The list goes on. Why?
I have a functional theology problem. Even though I know the Good Shepherd is with me, I don’t believe it completely. My fear is evidence that I don’t trust that the Shepherd is perfectly good in the midst of my circumstances and situations, and that He is with me. My lack of faith makes me weak and vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. Rather than declaring, “I fear no evil,” I am consumed by it.
If you can relate, then in verse 5 we get a startling illustration to help us with our unbelief.
In the presence of my enemies—those who hate us—they watch and observe the Good Shepherd setting a table before us. Enemies are not OK when good things happen to those they hate. Here, the Good Shepherd displays the fullness of who He is. As His guest, we His children receive a rich provision from the very hand of our Lord. And the enemies—what can they do? They can’t harm us because God is with us. If God weren’t with us, we could not stand in their presence.
Then, what seems to be even more outrageous, Jesus anoints our head with oil. In Old Testament passages, anointing oil was a consecration to priesthood, kingship, or service.
This is a most sufficient anointing…
How fitting a response for those of us who know our limitations and understand our weaknesses, “My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”!
When we understand that we do not deserve any of His goodness (not a drop of the oil of His mercy) and ponder that, “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever!” it should bring us to the foot of the cross, undone, repentant, eyes on Jesus, and hearts full of gratitude!
This is fear-fighting truth!
Fight the fear of man with this truth. Fight the fear of sickness with this truth. Fight the fear of circumstances with this truth. Fight the fear of the valley of the shadow of death with this truth.
Your soul is secure because of the Good Shepherd.
Is fear getting the better of you? How can this psalm help your unbelief?
Do you have a hard time accepting that the realities of this psalm are yours? Why?
What would it take for you to joyfully and confidently claim verse 6 for your own?
How can you encourage your family or friends with Psalm 23?