Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23 NASB

To speak of a God of prosperity is something of a dangerous subject in our modern faith. Those fuzzy images of our collective memory of televangelist and snake oil salesmen who have abused the idea of prosperity for personal gain or fame have soiled the concept for the rest of us.  The most notable is of course, Joel Osteen, but it really it does not need to be that way.  When we look at Psalm 23, we realize that God is really for us.

The Shepherd of Psalm 23 is no meager herdsman, but the Lord of all Creation. It is His abundant beauty and depth of richness on display that gives us hope that beyond salvation from our sin — as if it wasn’t enough — God’s unbounded fullness will be known to us. In the Good Shepherd, we are promised a banquet of bounty unlike anything we can imagine.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. – Psalm 23:5 NASB

We are invited to sit at the banquet table in the presence of our enemies — they are no threat to us with God on our side. More than a simple seat, we have been anointed with oil, blessed with the mark of the overwhelming abundance of the Lord. In such a seat, the profusion of plenty is almost indescribable. The surplus of goodness, the sheer unapproachable depth of grace and mercy we experience, that pours forth from the Shepherd is so great so as to overflow our ability to receive it.

Have you or do you currently acknowledge that God provides for you? In what ways is that different over time?

God of Abundance

The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 is not content with merely providing for His sheep, by giving them peaceful pasture, or protecting them from danger. Beyond all of that, the Lord showers abundance on His people. He pours out grace and mercy beyond our wildest imagination, showcasing His inexhaustible richness in the process. When we are submitted to God, we not only begin to see His goodness on display, but we are invited to partake in it as well.

Undisturbed Table

The preparation of a table in Psalm 23 is beautiful imagery. Rather than waiting for the end of the journey to prepare a celebration meal, the Lord prepares a table in the midst of the voyage. It is not a table at the finish line, but right here along the way. Almost like a rest stop on the journey of life.

Not only is the Lord unafraid of the enemies that seek to steal, kill and destroy, He is showing us that in His presence we also have nothing to fear. The prepared table sits in the presence of the enemies and yet is undisturbed, undisrupted. The prosperity of the Lord comes hand in hand with His protection. So it is with our salvation. Security is found in the extravagance of grace through faith. Found in Jesus, we have nothing to fear.

Have you ever been is a dark, oppressive situation where the Lord has provided an abundant table it the midst of it all?

Deep Blessing

In this weeks verse, five, the psalmist’s words take on an almost breathless quality. The statements of the Shepherd’s overwhelming gererosity and goodness are remarkable to behold. Not many of us fully understand or can relate to some of it. The anointing of oil is a symbol of prosperous profusion, a marking of blessing and love. Many of us have never been publicly loved, let alone had oil anointing us. This is a special abundance being poured out, and abundance not simply designed to please the receiver but to seal and set apart.

In our surrender to Christ, we are given the mark of the Holy Spirit, a gift poured out from God to lead and guide us. Far more than a simple benediction, the Spirit’s presence in our life is a seal of our eternity and a torch lighting the way of our sanctification.

Have you ever thought of being anointed by the Holy Spirit, as an overwhelming oil blessing you and sealing a covenant with God?

Fountains of Grace

“My cup overflows,” says the psalmist. This picture of an uncontainable blessing is a riveting one.  Imagine a fountain that never runs dry no matter how many pull from the source. This is the picture of the overflowing cup of grace that God has sent for us. Even the most pretentious vessel can come and be filled. And beyond its filling, it is overflowing, allowing for the grace to then pour out into other needy vessels. When we remain in Christ, abiding in his love (John 15:4), we find ourselves in the inexhaustible and irrepressible fountain of His grace, filled and overflowing. No greater prosperity can anyone imagine.

One of the biggest challenges many Christians have is stopping and actually letting God top-off your cup.

Have you ever struggled with the concept of receiving from God? Maybe in reservation of being label on of prosperity? How does your view of false-humility blend with your abundance?

True Prosperity

If we are honest, we crave the adulation of those around us and the material prosperity that is marketed to us  every day. Psalm 23 gets to the heart of real prosperity, showing that the deepest craving of our souls is something far beyond the applause of man or the trinkets of this world.

What is the blessings (prosperity) described in the Psalm?

The psalmist’s overflowing cup is a result of the presence and blessing of the Shepherd. Prosperity in its truest sense  is here — the company and anointing of the God of the Universe, which cannot be bought for any price and cannot be supplied by any audience. True prosperity is God’s proximity.

Now rewording our challenge… do we pause long enough to allow God to come close?

Approaching the Table

Tabletop-Trends1There is a luxurious quality of going out to eat at a restaurant. All that the guest needs is waiting for them, from utensils to drinks to linens and food. All the guest must do is sit and be served. Such is the picture of the waiting table prepared by the Lord in Psalm 23.

The only requirement of man is to approach the table, to sit and partake in the feast laid out before him.  The reality of life is that there is no shortage of tempting tables at which we can recline. Only one, however, truly satisfies. Only the provisions found at the table prepared by the Lord can fulfill the deepest parts of our soul.

Using the analogy of multiple tables being available, what are some of the tempting tables that you need to be aware of? What are some triggers or warnings that you have learned to spot?

How do you know that you are partaking at the Lord’s table?

Closing Prayer

Father, you call us sons.  You treat us to your wealth in the richness of your grace and you do not hesitate to pour out your goodness on our days. Find us in your house, Lord, that we might taste and see your goodness. When the world tempts us, deliver us from that evil and draw us back into the depth of your presence.

Lord, we are so forgetful. You always remind us that you are the only one who can bring us peace. You are the only one who can protect us or provide for our needs. You are the only one in whom we should seek to prosper. You hold victory in Jesus and it is ours if we only surrender. Thank you for the cross Lord. Find us lying face down there, once more today.

Lord, your blessings overwhelm us. We cannot begin to fathom the reaches of your goodness. We pray that we might display the holiness you claimed for us in Jesus, that we might submit our will to you and follow the lead of the Spirit that you’ve left to guide us. Father, find us faithful.

God, show us the folly of things that don’t fulfill us, the things of the world that never fill our cup and always leave us longing for more. Show us the brokenness of our own heart as well, the cracked vessel that we are, that we might seek your healing forgiveness  so as to better hold your grace and love. Father, bring us to the fountain of your goodness — We long to be so full of your love that we are overflowing into lives all around us.

Root us, Lord, in our identity in you. You call us a new creation and we desire to live it out once again. Convict us where we have given our life to false idols and worldly pleasures, where we have sought the applause of man in place of the attending nod from you, in heaven. Lead us to the pure  blessing of your presence.

Father, find us at your table. We dine too often at the tables of temptation. We long to be glorified by men so as to feel important. We yearn for a seat at the side of power brokers so we can feel significant. We chase the desires of our flesh seeking some sense of gratification. God, only you satisfy. Deepen our soul and our longing for a place at your side.

In Jesus name. Amen.

adapted from Psalm 23 Devotional by Kyle Burkholder