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 goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forevermore.  NIV

A few years ago, I heard a sermon series on the 23rd Psalm that made a huge impression on me.  The entire Psalm is only six verses, but, I think it is one of the better know passages in the Bible, because it is so often quoted at funerals.

In these verses, David notes that his shepherd, God, will prepare a table before him.  My understanding is that the flat fields in the mountains are often called mesas, or tables, and that a good deal of work goes into preparing the fields for the sheep.  Even though there may be predators lurking in the mountains around the mesa, the shepherd ensures that the sheep can eat peacefully and that they will have enough food to sustain them.

The anointing of a sheep’s head with oil was for one of two purposes … to soothe a wound, or to keep gnats and flies from annoying the sheep.  Either way, that is a beautiful image to have of my Heavenly Father.

And finally, “my cup overflows.”  There was, apparently, not an abundance of fresh water, and David is saying that God will go beyond caring for basic needs.  Indeed, His blessings will overflow the cup.

I love the promise at the end of this verse, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forevermore.”

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms

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