“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalm 23:5 KJV)
I used to delight in breakfast in bed, a charming tray of blueberry pancakes with a pat of real butter and the steamy smell of tea in a hearty mug. However, after just being released from my sixth hospital stay over the last year, breakfast in bed has lost its luster. I don’t want a little table prepared and set before me. I realize I sound like a spoiled brat, but the sight and smell of hospital food sends nausea rising from the pit of my stomach.
My thoughts must ascend to a table beyond description. The awe-inspiring table the Lord prepares for those who love Him.
In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller explains that a table (mesa) is the height of the summer range of the mountain.
A mesa (Portuguese and Spanish for table) is the American English term for tableland, an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape. It may also be called a table hill, table-topped hill or table mountain. (Wikipedia)
Phillip Keller likewise explains that mesas are remote and hard to reach. The shepherd goes up early in the season to survey the wild country, remove poisonous plants, etc. He goes before and “prepares a table” for the sheep. Christ goes before us to prepare a table for His people.
He has spread the feast! Will you come? Though He goes before us and prepares the way, our enemies are ever present. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) As the sheep must stay close to the shepherd to avoid being devoured by a predator, we must stay near to Jesus to avoid being devoured by the evil one. We must stay in continual prayer and communion through His Word. We must walk in the Holy Spirit, not in the flesh.
“Stay close to the Shepherd! The distant sheep, the roamers, the wanders fall prey!” Phillip Keller
After 16 years of living with Myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disease), I long for physical healing. This last hospital stay was for five days of plasmapheresis. (Plasma exchange). Polluted antibodies were removed, and replaced with fresh plasma. I picture the Holy Spirit coming in and removing my sin and replacing it with more of Himself.
May I long more for the table He sets before me. The wine representing His cleansing blood, cleansing mine. The bread His body, broken for me, that I might be whole.
By His stripes, I am healed, in this life or the next!
I close with this piercing question from Phillip Keller. Meditate and ask yourself the same thing.
“When I come to the Lord’s Table and partake of the communion service which is a feast of thanksgiving for His love and care, do I fully appreciate what it has cost Him to prepare this table for me?” Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23