Understanding Psalm 23: The Table, the Oil, and God’s Faithfulness

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cups runs over." Psalm 23:5

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over." Psalm 23:5

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.” Psalm 23:5 NKJ

 All through this study of Psalm 23, we’ve seen how the Lord is our good Shepherd, our Protector, our daily Provider, our Peace and Rest, and our Guide through every circumstance. We know about God’s faithfulness, that He leads us through dark valleys while watching over us with His rod and staff. All of that is amazing enough to prompt us to praise Him, but we may wonder what happens after we pass through the valley? What does the Lord do then?

Thankfully, the Lord is not content to leave us alone. In the last part of this Bible study, Understanding Psalm 23, let’s look at the rest of the chapter (verses five through eight) and discover what more the Lord does to bless us beginning with His holy table.

Preparing a Table

I remember visiting my Aunt Jeanne with my family when I was about eight years old. It was Thanksgiving Day and almost every member of my family was there. I knew most everyone, but not everyone. I met cousins I had never even heard of! But, there we were, all crammed into my Aunt’s beautiful house for a great day of fun and a wonderful feast.

The men were watching football, the boys were in the basement playing pool and cards, and the girls and women were packed into Aunt Jeanne’s kitchen preparing the food. I wasn’t allowed to cook, but I was allowed to set the huge table (actually two huge tables).

With my Aunt’s help, I carefully put the plates at each setting, then the silverware, napkins, salad bowls, and glasses. Then, I put out the condiments—butter, salt and pepper, cream, gravy, and ketchup for the kids. It ended up being a beautifully set table.

This is sort of what the Lord does for us. In verse five of Psalm 23, He prepares a beautiful table for us, only instead of it being with friends and family, it’s set before our enemies or adversaries. Why does God do that?

Many people think verse two is where God promises to provide for us. Remember, that verse was about making us lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23:2). We now know that green pastures mean something else. The table, however, is a better illustration of how God provides for us and satisfies us.

Provision and Satisfaction

When we put our trust in God, Psalm 23:5 reminds us that He can and will do everything to provide what you need, when you need it, until your soul feels satisfied. Even if you have walked through a dark valley, perhaps the darkest of all valleys ever, God will lead you through it so you successfully reach the other side. The danger will be behind you, and you will transition into His marvelous light.

It is then, after you leave the valley, you will find His holy table. The table illustrates abundance, satisfaction, and everlasting love. God’s people can feast at His table of endless love and grace and no enemy of any sort can ever take it away. They can only feel annoyed that you were victorious and prosperous in spite of them.

To reiterate the point, the psalmist reminds us of valleys and God’s table again in Psalm 118:5-6:

“I called on the Lord in distress. The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

And, in the New Testament, Peter says it again in 1 Peter 1:3:

“Thou hast provided for me all things pertaining both to life and godliness, all things requisite both for body and soul, for time and eternity.”

Don’t give in to Satan’s lies and tricks. Continue walking with God until you reach His holy table. It is there you will find what you’re looking for in great abundance—His provision and ultimate satisfaction.

That sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But God doesn’t stop there.

God anoints us with oil to eternally bless us with the Holy Spirit.

Anointing Oil

The second half of verse five says, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Any time we read in the Bible of the anointing of something or someone, it’s a beautiful illustration of God’s blessing. But, it’s not just a blessing for the moment or even in your current situation.

According to Bible scholar Matthew Henry and his complete commentary of the Bible written in 1710, God’s anointing in this verse refers to Him blessing you for your entire life with the Holy Spirit so much that your cup of salvation overflows. His anointing isn’t just to meet your needs, but also to give you “ornament and delight.”

In other words, after bringing you through the dark valley, you can look forward to the victory of reaching the Lord’s table and His anointing with the Holy Spirit. Did you catch that? There’s victory when you reach the other side. It’s almost as if God pats you on the back and says, “Well done!” simply because you hung in there and trusted Him. Hallelujah!

The whole experience serves to strengthen our faith, draw us closer to our heavenly Father, and to realize just how faithful He truly is. If we can grab hold of that, then we can boldly proclaim without any hesitation the truth of verse six:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God is Faithful

Psalm 23 is a famous chapter of the Bible with deep meaning that’s especially encouraging during times of trouble, whatever it may be. I have often thought of God’s words and promises in Psalm 23 and they have brought amazing comfort to me when it seemed there was no way out of the valley.

Now I know…

The Shepherd’s rod and staff protect me because He calls me His own.

He provides my daily needs and gives me peace when I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

He keeps me on the right path, and He helps me make the right choices so I don’t wander away from Him.

He walks with me during the dark times, and He never leaves me. I never need to fear because He is constantly faithful.

After I pass through the valley, He prepares a table of abundance for me, and He blesses me with the Holy Spirit and salvation because I continued to trust Him even when it was hard to do.

The main takeaway of Psalm 23 you should always remember is that GOD IS FAITHFUL. Always. Without fail. Period. That’s a promise you can count on no matter what you’re going through. His mercy and goodness follow you, and He invites you to dwell in His house forever. All you have to do is let Him lead you.

What’s happening in your life today? Will you trust Him? Go to Psalm 23 for encouragement and when you need your hope renewed. Discover again God’s great, endless, unchanging love and faithfulness to you.

God is eternally faithful to you.

Your Turn

Thank you for studying Psalm 23 with me. It’s so rich with comfort and love. How has it affected your view of the Shepherd? How does it reassure you of His grace and faithfulness? Or, maybe you have a different perspective of Psalm 23. I’d love to hear it!  Please, won’t you share your thoughts and comments with me? You can do that either in the box below or you can do it privately here. Let’s continue helping each other understand the Bible even better.

Further Reading

If you missed any of this four-part series of Understanding Psalm 23, you can catch up on it here. Thanks again for reading! God bless you!

 

Understanding Psalm 23: What Do the Staff and Rod Actually Mean?

 

 

Understanding Psalm 23: What God Meant by Green Pastures and Still Waters

 

 

Understanding Psalm 23: What is the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

 

 

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