One of the favorite and more familiar passages of Scripture is the 23rd Psalm. In it King David uses two images or metaphors to focus his thanksgiving for each day of his life:
- The Lord as Shepherd, who cares for the sheep, providing for their needs, guiding them and protecting them (vv. 1-4), and
- The Lord of Hosts, who cares for His guest at a feast in his honor (vv. 5-6), showing gracious hospitality and generous provision.
Of all the wonderful promises God gives us in this Thanksgiving Psalm, verse five is unique and unusual: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Here, the Lord of Hosts is described as setting a banquet table for us, spread with wonderful food—in abundance! This feast is prepared, in front of our “enemies.”
In biblical terms, there are two kinds of enemies: the demonic kind and the human kind. In this psalm, David is first referring to the demonic powers and principalities. Often these evil enemies use people in our lives, which have become their tools to make us miserable! The devil may target us physically, psychologically, or even spiritually and then stir up trouble for us among our human enemies.
David describes both classes of enemies as being unable to harass and hurt us in this time of feasting. Instead, they are forced to sit on the outer fringe of the scene and watch the Lord himself wait on us and serve the feast he has prepared! The devil has lied to us repeatedly to condemn us for our failures and accuse us of missing the mark of holiness, which God has intended for us. But, now, our enemies are shamed, as they are ordered to the sidelines to watch as we feast, with extreme thanksgiving, on the food prepared and served by our Lord and Master.
Not only does God serve us, like a waiter would at a banquet, he also pours out his oil of gladness on us. In David’s day, olive oil was used for cooking and medicinal purposes. It also might have scents or perfume added to it for cosmetic and aromatic purposes. We are not sure which kind of oil is being referenced here, but it is used in abundance on us: “My cup runs over!”
Finally, David rejoiced in God’s goodness and mercy. It was as if these qualities of God’s character were on the “menu” presented at the special table spread for just for him. David affirms his confidence in our Lord to daily shepherd us and provide for us “all the days of our lives.”
This Thanksgiving Day, let us thankfully accept our Father’s love and forgiveness as we joyously praise Him for the “goodness and mercy” we receive every day, while we sit with him at his heavenly table!