Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
I’ve had this Psalm memorized since childhood, and I was actually rather curious as to what the Lord would bring to my attention from it this morning. As it turns out, it’s the whole matter of enemies. We would like enemies to disappear completely, but God has a better idea. God gives us victory, but the fight itself is necessary for our growth. When Israel was preparing to enter Canaan, Moses told the people, “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.” (Deuteronomy 7:22) Jesus famously said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Paul even said, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13) Conflict is part of the human condition, until God makes all things new. (Revelation 21:4-5) Because we aren’t there yet, the point that David realized is that God is good to us even while all of that is going on. We complain about the opposition and conflict when we should be focusing on all that God has done for us in Christ. As a matter of fact, we complain about a lot of things, when the Bible says in many places and in many different ways that it’s all going to work out for our benefit, whatever it looks like at the moment. (Romans 8:28 and many more)
As a pastor, I not only deal with this issue in my own life, I am constantly dealing with it in others. I should be grateful, because it makes it very clear to me the terrible damage such lack of faith generates. I have told people to take their eyes off of themselves and their circumstances and fix them on Jesus until I’m blue in the face, but so often it just doesn’t seem to penetrate. We all want to get through, or rather get out of, the current trial, not recognizing that God wants to do specific things for our benefit through that very trial. We fixate on the enemies, instead of on the banquet God has laid out for us. I have been shocked at some people who refused to eat, preferring instead to complain about the enemies! God is incredibly good to each one of us, if we will just open our eyes to see it and receive it.
Father, thank You for this reminder. As much as I try to help others, I get grumpy and complaining too! Help me indeed so focus on my Lord that I recognize Your hand of grace in absolutely everything that happens in my life, so that I will overflow with the praise and thanksgiving that You deserve, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!