A Table Before Me, Ps 23:5

In Ps 23:5 David said, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”.  Imagine the scene.  David is seated at a table that the Lord has prepared for him.  Nearby are his enemies.  There are three things in this passage that are beneficial for us and instructive to us.

The Lord prepares the table – “Thou preparest a table”.  So, what’s on the table the Lord has prepared.  His preparations are not an after thought.  In 1 Ki 17:4 the Lord said to Elijah, “I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there”.  Then in 1 Ki 17:9 he said, “I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee”.  In Elijah’s case, the Lord prepared for Elijah’s necessity.  

In Jn 21:9 when the Lord presented himself to his disciples, “they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread”. Then in Jn 21:12 Jesus said to his disciples, “Come and dine”.

In this age where food is abundant and restaurants are plentiful, it is hard to remember that we look to the Lord for provision.  When we bow our heads to thank the Lord for our meal, we are not aware of him preparing a table for us.  Either we or someone else prepares our meals.

Yet, we may soon find ourselves in a situation where we literally must look to the Lord for our food.  Just remember that the Lord knows how to take care of you.  He can prepare your table.

The table is prepared for you – “a table before me”.  In other words, what is on the table has been prepared just for you by the Lord.  It’s what he wants you to have.  The table could be a cake of meal and oil day after day like the Lord provided for Elijah.  His food was convenient for him, Prov 30:8-9.  There was no variety but it sustained him, perfectly.   Don’t fuss about what’s on the table.

On the table could be manna.  In Deut 8:3 Moses said of the Lord, “he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live”. The Lord purposely withheld the food that Israel was used to eating in Egypt so that they would hunger for the Lord and his words rather than the flesh they ate while in bondage.  

It might be that the table is prepared but that there is nothing to eat on the table.  Paul was hungry and suffered need in Phil 4:12.  However, from this experience he could say, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”, Phil 4:11.  And hunger with contentment is better than a full belly without it.  As Paul said, “godliness with contentment is great gain”, 1 Tim 6:6.

The table is also prepared for your enemies – “in the presence of mine enemies”.  Rom 12:20-21 “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”.  What the Lord puts on your table may be intended not only to feed you but also your enemy.  

The Lord could use your table to demonstrate his goodness to someone else.  Rom 2:4 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance”?

Sometimes what the Lord puts on your table causes your enemy to be ashamed and consider your suffering.  Darlene Deibler Rose, in her book Evidence Not Seen, wrote of just such an instance.  

While interred in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, in Kampili, Darlene was under a ruthless camp commander named Yamaji.  Darlene’s testimony of strict obedience to his commands while caring for and encouraging the other women prisoners caught Yamaji’s attention.  He appreciated her leadership among the other women in the camp.

When Darlene learned that her husband had died in another POW camp, she grieved and became visibly depressed.  Yamaji called her into his office and said, “Darlene, don’t lose your smile”, knowing that her demeanor affected the other women.  

Through this encounter, she was able to witness to Yamaji and explain that she could have joy in the midst of sorrow because of Jesus Christ and the promises of eternal life.  She also told him that she didn’t hate him because of the love God had for him and the desire he had for Yamaji to be saved through Jesus Christ.  

Later, when Darlene had been transferred to another camp in Kampeiti to be interrogated as a spy and to be executed, Yamaji came to visit her.  She had been reduced to skin and bones because of the starvation ration of bad rice and broth she was given to eat.  When he saw tears flowed down cheeks.  

He had such compassion for her condition, he had a bunch of bananas sent to her cell.  There were 92 bananas in that bunch.  What he didn’t know is that she had been praying for just one banana if the Lord could find some way to provide her one.  

Through these unusual circumstances, God used her horrible condition and her wonderful testimony to reach Yamaji’s heart.  Through a Japanese army chaplain, Yamaji heard and understood the gospel and was eventually saved.

God prepared a table for Darlene in the presence of her enemy that he used to bring her enemy to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: Remember that God prepares a table for his children.  What’s on the table is prepared especially for you.  And it may well be that it’s prepared for your enemy, as well.

To listen to and hear the prior sermon in this series, see Thy Rod and Thy Staff. To read and hear the next sermon in this series, see Thou Anointest My Head With Oil, Ps 23:5.