It’s been a few weeks since my last post on Psalm 23. Yesterday, I really needed to dwell on this. If you need it too, click here to see all the previous posts based on my husband’s teaching of this psalm. For now, here are some thoughts on verse 5.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
The Shepherd just took the sheep through the dark valley and has led them to the fresh, green pastures on the higher ground. Shepherds do not lead the sheep through the valley blindly and encounter green pastures by accident. According to W. Phillip Keller (A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23), the shepherds went ahead and prepared the land for their sheep. We can trust that our Good Shepherd goes before us and prepares the way. He gives us the needed nourishment for our souls through His Word. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
But, there are still enemies lurking about. Yet, the sheep can trust in the protection of their Shepherd, so that even in the midst of potential danger, they can eat peacefully. As we walk through the hills and valleys of life, we are surrounded by enemies. The Lord knows how to feed and strengthen us with His timely Word even while we face opposition.
In the second half of the verse, King David writes, “You anoint my head with oil.” In my husband’s study, he discovered that the root of this word, “anoint”, has the meaning of “to be fat.” In this present culture of fad diets and exercise programs, “fat” may not be a very desirable thing, but at the time that this psalm was written, fat was regarded as being prosperous. Moreover, oil was considered an expensive luxury. Now, consider who David was addressing … The Lord Himself is the one anointing our heads to bless and prosper us abundantly.
At the end of the day, before you go to sleep, what is your last thought? Is it a replay of all your mistakes from today? A week ago? 5 years ago? Is it anxiety over the uncertainty of the future? Is it anguish over a present trial that won’t seem to go away? Replace those thoughts and meditate on the truths in Psalm 23 and consider … The Lord of this universe is your soul-satisfying, ever-present, and abundantly generous Shepherd. And before you read the last part of verse 5, take a moment, pause, and remember who your Shepherd is and all He has done and will do for you. Then, you can say with the psalmist …
“My cup overflows.”
(Photo credit: Sarah Macmillan)