Reading: Psalm 23:5-6 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Moving into these last two verses of Psalm 23 today, we will personalize these, in the spirit of Lent. In the first half of verse 5 the Lord prepares a table for us “in the presence” of our “enemies.” At first I picture them standing a little ways away, watching. But then I realize that Jesus ate with those generally considered “enemies” – tax collectors, prostitutes… So my enemies, they would be sitting at this table prepared by Christ. Some at the table will be seeing this from the other side: What is John doing at my table?!
Then there’s the setting – we are anointed, blessed. The cup overflows as does everything else on the table. There always was and is an abundance to everything Jesus does. There is always more than enough. At this table there is also an abundance of love and grace, empathy and mercy, compassion and forgiveness.
This scene is most often portrayed as a wedding banquet. I envision lots of tables like the one I described above plus a huge table at the front where Jesus sits with a host of people. Could this smaller table that Jesus prepared for us be the entry point to the real celebration going on up front? That is described in verses 6. The house of the Lord, our eternal dwelling place, is where “goodness and love” will overflow every day, all day. And perhaps these must begin to flow at our outer tables so that reconciliation and the restoration of all of our relationships can occur. Only then, when we are made right with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, only then will we sit with Christ at his table.
I believe the same truth exists right now. If we look at others and consider them an “enemy” then there is distance between us and Christ. “Enemy” is just as broad a term as “neighbor.” If there is anyone that we would love less than the one we truly love the most, then we have work to do here and now.
Prayer: Lord God, I know, I believe that you call me to love unconditionally. That’s how you love me. Help me to bridge the gap, Lord, between how I know I’m supposed to live and how I actually love. Day by day bring me closer to your table of grace. Amen.