A Study on Psalm 23 – #6
v5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (NIV 1984)
v6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV 1984)
These two verses have been viewed in essentially two ways by expositors, firstly that the shepherd/sheep theme continues and secondly that the scene changes to a banquet in which the host provides hospitality for a guest.
When presented with choices Greek influenced thinking will often takes the approach that a choice must be made, for example there is a right and wrong interpretation. At times this is of course true and a choice must be made, we cannot follow just any old doctrine we must as Paul says follow teaching that conforms to the Gospel. On the other hand Hebraic thought is at times more inclined to take the approach that it may not be necessary to choose one or the other, there may be truth and value in both views. In the spirit of the Hebraic approach we will mention both interpretations over the final two instalments in our series.
So here we begin by looking at the ‘banquet’ interpretation. Let us imagine the picture, Yahweh has invited David into his dwelling to enjoy a lavish feast but this is not a passing visit, the guest has been invited not only to enjoy a meal but to reside forever. Yahweh’s dwelling place has become David’s dwelling place.
As he writes these words perhaps David has in mind the oppression he has suffered at the hands of others both external enemies and those he knew as friends, allies, even family. In front of my oppressors God has accepted me as a guest and permitted me to stay as a cohabiter.
Note God’s provision: firstly an invite; secondly caring for our personal needs after a journey (the anointing with oil – see Luke 7:36-50, water to wash feet, a welcoming kiss, oil for the head); thirdly a lavish meal which will fully satisfy; protection from enemies; the promise of future supply in this world (his goodness and love will accompany me) and finally eternity with the Lord in the place where he dwells.
As sinners we were invited and drawn to salvation. As children of God we are further invited to enjoy all that is ours in Christ. As the Psalm puts it we are invited to dwell with God not just in eternity but now as we continue our pilgrimage here on earth. Consider Revelation 3:20 Jesus calls us to invite him in, our response to this call actually brings us into the place where he becomes the host and the provider of the meal.
Anointing the head with oil speaks of the reception of a guest as they arrive at the hosts dwelling. Essentially they are being provided with what they need to freshen up after there journey. Jesus alludes to this in John 13:10, the dust of the journey clinging to the feet and ankles is cleaned off with water before proceeding to the dinning room. In this we see how as we journey through our day we can pick up that which would be inappropriate to brings into our hosts home and so we wash. How important it is that as we come into the presence of God we are cleansed of anything that has contaminated our lives during the day. In Christ provision is made, he provides for the washing of our feet through the giving of himself, his blood cleanses us from all sin.
Note further the extent of God’s supply for our needs – my cup overflows or as Jesus said, pressed down, shaken together and running over, imagine a sack filled with dried beans, you fill the sack and it seems full but then you press the beans down, shake the sack and suddenly there is room for more, you keep adding, shaking and pressing until beans overflow the sack. So it is with God’s spiritual provision for his people, as John the Baptist said, God gives his Spirit without limit.
Our Fathers heart towards us is love and goodness always, we can depend on him. Nothing can separate us from his loving provision all the days of our life.
Loving God thank you for inviting us to dwell with you, to be supplied by you, to live in your presence and under your protection. Help us to always find our rest in you. Amen