You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies:
What do you picture when you read this verse? Growing up, I always pictured a banquet table, set for a feast, and I couldn’t figure out why anyone would celebrate in a room with one’s enemies…
The shepherd takes his sheep to highlands to graze in the summer, and these mesas are flat lands, or table lands. The shepherd goes ahead to prepare these places for his sheep. He looks for the best grazing where they have good places to bed down and rest. He makes sure the water is accessible. He pulls poisonous plants, or makes sure to avoid allowing them to go near those places. He takes note of vulnerabilities of the table lands—places where the sheep are open to predators so that he can be ready to protect them. Of course, the sheep also need to stay near to the shepherd in order to be covered by his protection.1
Jesus goes before us to straighten the way for us. He lived life as a man and knows what it is to be tempted and tried as we are. He has compassion for us in every way.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15
God sees what lay ahead of us. He knows every temptation we will encounter, and he provides us with a way of escape.2 He knows every trial we will face, and Jesus prays for us just like he prayed for Peter. God knows every storm we will walk through, and every devil that will come against us. He prepares us through His Word, the Bible, assuring us of His presence and explaining right from wrong. He gives us His Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. Sometimes He sends dreams and messengers, like he did for Daniel and others we read about in the Bible. I firmly believe He still does this today. I have experienced his mercy first hand. He is for us. All He requires is that we listen attentively and stay close by His side. And when we do mess up, He intercedes for us in heaven. Because Jesus did not sin, he became the sacrifice for our sins, and when we trust him as our Savior, he forgives us for all of our wrong doing.
In the Old Testament, we see refuges go to the altar of God and hold on to the horns of the altar for mercy. Jesus is called the Horn of our Salvation. We cling to Him, and He is our mercy. He gives us grace, unearned and undeserved favor, for all of our shortcomings. He provides for every un-expected need. He prepares the table for us.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old…”Luke 1:68-70
I’m Pressing on the Upward Way, Lyrics by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926)
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Chorus: Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till rest I’ve found,
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
1Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Print.
2 1 Corinthians 10:13
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