Psalm 23 is an examination of the relationship that God desires to have with creation once the sin barrier is removed. Sin doesn’t keep God from us. Sin keeps us from God. Sin manipulates our desires that drive us away from and blind us towards God. Prolonged engagement with sin will sear our consciousness and dissolve our desire for godliness. Sin, deceptively, takes away everything good that God has committed to provide for you.
Have you ever been so stressed, tired, or worried that you had no appetite to eat? Maybe you were preparing for a final at school. Or maybe it was crunch time to finish a major project at work. Maybe circumstances were compounding and the weight of it was overwhelming. The lack of nourishment during stress-filled moments will enhance the weight, fear, and anxiety you are feeling. Proper care is essential to operating at peak performance.
“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;” Psalm 23:5a
The benefit of making Jesus your Shepherd is that in your most trying times He will prepare a table for you to eat. He understands how the weight of your physical concerns can overwhelm your spiritual sensibilities. No matter how busy, overwhelmed, or stressed we are it’s crucial that we make time to feed ourselves spiritually. Often it’s our spiritual disciplines that get sidelined when life becomes difficult. These are the same disciplines that have the power to lift us out of the circumstances that weigh us down.
Jesus made it clear in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” There is no better way. There is no other truth. There is no life without Jesus. In John 6 Jesus amassed a large following of people described as “disciples”. Then suddenly, during an afternoon of teaching, we learn that all of them, minus the 12, stop following Jesus because they could not process what He was teaching.
To hear and to listen are not the same thing. We can hear what someone is saying without listening to what is being said. The crowds heard what Jesus said but they weren’t listening. Prior to his statement that caused the people to walk away, he said in John 6:35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus recognizing they were not listening then uses hyperbole and says, “54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” John 6:54. His statement was not simply for shock value but a definitive statement that there is no spiritual life apart from Him.
“the word that became flesh.” John 1:14
“the bread of life.” John 6:35
“the living word.” Hebrews 4:12
Notice that David said your shepherd will “set a table before you.” It does not say “He will feed you.” It’s our responsibility to come to the table and eat. He will provide a table for you to eat during your most trying moments but you must sit and eat. The only way to grow spiritually is to make a regular habit of reading (and doing) God’s word. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing the words of Christ,’ Romans 10:17. Hearing and doing were synonymous in Bible teaching. Doing validated hearing. Sit. Eat. Be nourished.
“you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b
Oil throughout the Old and New Testament is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Our mind (head) is where the battle takes place. Whoever controls our thoughts controls us. The good shepherd will anoint our head with oil. He will align our thoughts with the Word so our actions stay the course. The Holy Spirit gives us understanding, discernment, and wisdom. In Luke 11:13 Jesus urges His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit. If you struggle to understand God’s will or Word, ask Him to anoint your head with oil.
David concludes verse 5 by stating “my cup overflows.” This symbolizes the generosity, wealth, abundance, and kindness of your shepherd. He is able and amply prepared to give you what you need to live a faithful and victorious life.
This may have been what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote Ephesians 3:20, ““Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” The compounding adjectives, far more, abundantly, and all, emphasize God’s amazing care over your life. Jesus has every qualification necessary to care for you and to navigate you through life.
Put your trust in Him today and set up a regular time to be nourished in the Word and enlarge your faith for greater things!