1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will 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 anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surely 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 NIV
What a beautiful reminder of us and Him. As we peek at the 23 Psalm again, this time we pick up a spotlight on a couple things. David opens up the Psalm by saying the Lord is my shepherd, which is not coincidental that David was a real shepherd, but refers to God as his shepherd.
We want to spotlight verse 5 this week:
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
What do you think of that statement? Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? What might be a different action God could take?
Some have thought that it would be better if God would prepare a table in a solitude, intimate situation with only God, not one else; especially not inviting in our enemies. The truth of this verse is also depicted in each of our lives. God is not there to hit the quick eject button and eliminate and isolate us from our enemies. In a bigger way, instead of isolating David, God makes a bigger statement. He boldly steps right in front of the things that are threatening us, he spreads the table out for Him us, but right in front of the enemy.. The enemy wants us to be discouraged and isolate and the action God takes shows us who He is and who our enemies are.
Do you have a time or situation where God did not prevent or protect your from something? Like God showed up and used a difficult situation to flex his muscle in only ways he could?
The illustration brings an predicament we face when God sets that table of two before our enemies. The enemy can pull up a chair and join us.
If the situation did arise where the enemy pulled a chair up to your table, what do you think his actions or motivations would be? Maybe something like God is not good, that we are not being treated well. If God was good, why has all this hardship and pain come into our life? Why do we have to be rescued by God? Is he just toying with us?
This is a vulnerable area to attack because each of us understands pain, understands depression, understanding opposition. So it is a well rehearsed line in our head where we don’t think we are favored.
Pain is always valid to the one feeling the pain.
When a person is in pain or depressed they are not wise to logic. In truth being logical is inversely proportional to our pain. Lots of pain, little logic. Little pain, more logic. We know from scripture that God is good.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
That is all logical, but so easily we can forget and feel like a victim. We may be confident that God will work things out, but we question his timing. We question his love. The other challenge is when we attempt to use logic, and we listen with our ears and yet don’t listen with our heart.
Do you have a time when you were in pain or a bad situation and your own logic was hampered or skewed?
The situation we are referring to is when the enemy pulls that chair up or in reality raises his voice in our head. Sometimes that argument we hear in our head. The challenge today for us is…
Don’t give the enemy a seat at your table
Now the question comes up, how do we know that he has bellied up to our table? There are few things that can help us be logical.
If the enemy is at our table… we think we are not going to make it. It’s never going to get any better. We are not going to make it. Your never going to get back to where you once were. Your not going to win this fight. It is useless. Your never going to be free. You are not going to be healed, there is no changing you.That life is actually worse that it was before you surrendered to Christ.
Have you had times when the enemy has whispered your not going to make it?
Let’s remember the Psalm, God is going to be our shepherd and lead us through the valley, that there will be green pastures and still waters. There will be a table set for us and provision.
If the enemy is at our table… we think there is something better at another table. He tempts us with thoughts like “look over there, the party is at that table”. He gets us comparing and that sinful approach to life spirals out of control rapidly. Or how about “You go a raw deal at your table. You need to go over there, that is going to make the pain go away. Life would be better if you were with her or them”. “God left you in a bad place. Get up and rescue yourself, you know it is better over there.
Have you had times when the enemy has pointed out other opportunities? Gave you an escape route?
Remember that God will not abandon us. He knows the whole story. There is nothing in this world, at all the tables in the world added together that would be worth walking away from God.
If the enemy is at our table… we begin to think we are not good enough for God. The enemy whispers “you don’t matter”; “you’ve never mattered to anyone”; “God does not care about your. You don’t deserve to be at a table with God.You were not invited to God’s table. He is going to wise up and kick us out.God is finished with you, there is no way back.
Have you had times when the enemy has pointed out such things?
In the Psalm is says that there table is prepared for us. That is not like our dinner table today. This is symbolic of the times of David where it was referring to a big banquet table, a feast. This is not like throw a blanket on the ground and plop down. This is not like just gather at a little table for two. This is a feast a table for the King. You are gong to that table. If we are the bride and he is the groom, think of it like being at the wedding table. The table of all tables. Everything is at the table. He has given us all we need. Feelings will tell us we don’t matter, but the cross of Jesus is our foundation.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. – John 10:11
If the enemy is at our table… we think that everyone is out to get us. We better watch our back. There may truly be someone out to there saying thins or doing things to us and that can get us in a state of paranoia. Sometimes the enemy will tell us such this as:
No one likes you. Everyone is talking about you. They are all scheming to take you out. You better watch your back. get us.
Have you had times when the guest at your table lashes out with such words?
Even if everybody was against us, the creator God, the all powerful God is for us. Think of it this way, would you rather have everyone keeping the peace with you and God be against you? It is our choice, we don’t get both.
We can get caught up in the paranoia and begin feeling alone and that we need to take on the world. If we don’t handle things it is not going to end well.
God’s plans for our life is bigger and greater than any of our struggles
Like a dead snake, God had defeated the enemy and his life is eminent, but the body still wiggles and torments us. The snake is still slithering around and he will continue to tempt us and attempt to crash our party with Jesus. Many times we actually pull a spare chair up and invite the enemy to join in.
So if we do catch ourselves having a conversation with the enemy at our table, what can we do? Or what can be do to ensure that we don’t allow him to wiggle in?
1. Make sure we are spiritually alive. Make sure we are at the table with God.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. – 1 John 5:12
Is Jesus the center of your life? Or is he just conveniently around when you need him?
Anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice. – John 10:1-5
2. Let the Shepherd lead us day by day. Many times we try to take the wheel more than we should. We think we can do things just fine. The challenge is to keep our frame of mind correct. We are to be sheep. Sheep are not dominant creatures. Look at the Psalm. God makes us lay down. None of like being told or forced to do anything.
God is not looking for power and control for our lives, but seeking to love us, protect us and raise us as a good, good father would desire. We need to daily come to God and declare our need for him.
3. Trust God and lean in his direction. Let God lead you. The crazy thing is, we want change, but we hesitate in doing anything different. Life with God will be strange and uncomfortable in our nature, because He knows what needs attention, what needs to be addressed and where we need to go.
4. Say yes to the Holy Spirit. It is a miraculous thing that we are where we are today. Things just don’t go away. We have allowed the shepherd to lead us. We have allowed ourselves to be changed, and he is not done with us yet. As it says in Galatians 5;16, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
5. Make sure you don’t take no for an answer. Sometimes we get used to the enemy and we get familiar. The enemy says “no” to us and we have to pay attention to where the “no” is coming from. Let’s remember that we call the cross our comfort, but it is rugged and brutal. We have to acknowledge that there are times when we not only allow the enemy to squeeze in, but we entertain him.
Life is short, God is big! Pay attention to our shepherd, where are we sitting, who is next to us. This week try to read Psalm 23 each day, maybe multiple times a day.