When you have more time than money or even if you have neither money nor time, you sometimes must switch roles. For instance, I would occasionally receive a phone call from my wife advising me of a crisis at home. Usually, it was more urgent than critical. Maybe the car wouldn’t start, or the sink was leaking. On these occasions, I often said, “wait until I put on my mechanic’s hat. I’ll be right there…” The saying is, not original, of course, it’s figurative language commonly used to describe a changing of function.
This is what happens in the middle of Psalm 23. Initially, David has been describing the LORD as his Shepherd and himself as God’s sheep. Then, in verse 5, he changes that metaphor, depicting the LORD as his familiar host. The shift in focus is obvious and natural. Both descriptions instruct us about the Lord’s ongoing concern and care for his people.
Thus, he writes, “you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Clearly, David sees the Lord as his gracious host and himself as his guest.
David means far more than a flat board with attached legs. No, he evokes a picture of the fellowship shared by those seated around the table. He describes an intimacy of a festal family gathering. The focus is now on the friendship, perhaps even intimacy, of a generous host, who has taken care to provide for his needs.
John RW Scott explains, “the scene changes. I am no longer out-of-doors, but indoors; no longer a sheep in the flock, but a guest at a banquet.” By way of application, God’s children are his special guests – his close friends. So, just as a shepherd cares for his sheep, the host provides for the needs of his guests.
Think of what is suggested here. We, who were once God’s enemies have become his children and close confidantes. By nature, we rebelled against him and resisted him. But through the cross of Christ, we have been reconciled to him. Amazing! Friends with God! Friends of God! Children of God – what a privilege!
There are at least two “tables” which God prepares for his children.
The first is the “table” of his daily care, in meeting our physical needs. David could have had in mind a situation similar to what is described in 2 Samuel 17.26 – 29 when he wrote this verse. David’s son, Absalom, had rebelled against him and was leading the charge to kill him. David hastily fled from Jerusalem and had hunkered down with his weary troops. David was in dire need of rest and refreshment. God supplied David’s needs through the generosity of his friend, Barzillai, who supplied him with beds, cooking utensils, and various foodstuffs him because he recognized the needs of God’s people.
Can you think of ways in which God has provided just what you needed when you needed it? God has called us to live by faith, and many of us have experienced firsthand God’s faithfulness in providing for all our needs. Let’s take a moment and thank him for his consistent faithfulness and provision.
Yahweh, as the perfect father and host, takes great care to provide for our daily needs. Jesus said that we are to ask him for our daily bread. The constancy of God’s provision means that we as God’s people have them in every circumstance and situation. We have already noticed in earlier verses that this is true. God consistently provides for the needs of his children.
So, the first “table” concerns our physical needs. The second table provides for our spiritual needs.
Jesus has prepared a table for his followers, at which his enemies are barred. This table is reserved only for the children of God. Each of the Gospels declares that Jesus elevated the meaning of the celebration of the Passover feast, transforming it to what we now refer to as “The Lord’s Supper.”
The purpose of this symbolic meal is to nourish our faith as we reflect upon (remember) the Lord’s death until he comes. In this spiritual meal, the Lord Jesus through his ministers acts as the host for his followers. Thus, Jesus encourages us, feeds us and builds our faith as we consider his sacrificial death and resurrection. While the elements of wine and bread symbolize the blood and body of Christ, the words of the celebration inform us, as the actions and motions portray the giving and receiving of the gospel message. This is a table of refreshment which only the Lord could prepare. He has prepared it for each of us.
Don’t lose the focus. The Lord provides all these benefits for you. The emphasis of the Psalm is the personal provision of the Lord for his child. David recounts his experience with the LORD so that each of us will also taste and see that the Lord is good. God cares for you. That is, God is caring for you. To put it another way, the Lord is providing for you.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 7.31 – 34