Friday, August 6, 2021

 Psalm 23 

Part 5 continued

By Vicky Moots

Psalm 23:5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…”. That seems like a strange thing for God to do: to prepare a table and to tell us to sit down and eat when we are surrounded by our enemies. But if we are going to be going into battle, we need strength to fight or we will faint. We need to feed upon the Word of God in order to have the strength to overcome Satan.

God provided a table in the presence of the enemies of the prophet Elijah in I Kings 19:1-8. Elijah was running from Jezebel who sought to kill him. He became discouraged because of this, and fearful, and even asked the Lord to take his life. He fell asleep in the wilderness under a juniper tree and was awakened by an angel. “…an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat…And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.” I imagine he thought he was dreaming. Perhaps this was the first “angel food cake,” or where the name came from. “And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights…”.

The number forty in Scripture speaks of completeness, or full measure, of testing. The Lord knew exactly how long His trial would last both physically and spiritually, and He provided sufficient food for strength for the battle He would face. The Lord is also faithful to provide something from His Word, exactly what we need, that will encourage us and strengthen us when we go through our trials.

He wants us to arise, wake up out of sleep, and to eat. We must partake of His Word daily and whenever we feel weak or discouraged. Reading self-help books or something like “5-easy steps to overcoming” is not sufficient. There is no substitute for the nutritious banquet He has provided for us in the inspired Word of God. We need the “Word of His grace” to build us up, so we must feast at the table that the Lord has provided for us. Sometimes we even need to take a second helping, as Elijah was told to do!

There is another example given in the Old Testament in which God provided the necessary food for strength for the battle in the presence of enemies. This is found in I Sam. 14:24-29. The people of Israel had gone to battle against the Philistines, but King Saul had commanded them to not eat anything at all until evening, until he was avenged of his enemies. As a result, the people in the army had become very weak and faint. Verse 25, “And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.” None of the people ate it because they were afraid of the King’s command. But Jonathan, the King’s son, had not heard about his father’s oath and so “…he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.” After they told him about the command he said, “…My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.” Honey represents the Word of God. Ps. 119:103, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Just as the honey enlightened Jonathan’s eyes so that he could see and think clearly so the Word of God enlightens our minds and hearts and enables us to see clearly who our enemy is, and to see the Lord, who is leading us. Satan disguises himself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and tries to seduce us to go down the wrong path. Many churches today have become places of entertainment instead of true worship. They try to make you feel good with the music and the social gospel they preach but they provide no food for the soul. The sincere milk of the Word of God has been watered down by man’s ideas and so the sermon is void of spiritual nutrition. No real food being served.

But if we are following our Shepherd, he will prepare us a table that is filled with exactly what we need to strengthen us for battle. God does not remove our enemies. Instead, He provided the strength to overcome as we partake of the food that He has prepared for us. We will be able to go on in the strength of that meat until our trial is complete and the victory has been won.

Even Jesus, shortly before He was arrested and crucified (the same night) had a table prepared for Him in order to strengthen Him for what lay ahead. He sat down with His disciples to eat His last Passover meal, which we now call the Last Supper. At that table, He was in the presence of His enemy, for Satan had entered into Judas who would soon betray Him. They all partook of the Passover lamb together as a remembrance feast of that first Passover lamb that had to be slain by each household of the children of Israel when they were in bondage in Egypt in order that the blood could be applied to the doorposts so that the death angel would pass over their house that night, and their firstborn would escape death. Then they roasted the lamb and ate it so that they would have the strength to leave Egypt that night.

Jesus then explained to His disciples while they were eating, as He took the wine and the bread that it represented the new covenant in His own blood and His body that was broken just like the bread, and given for them, and that they were to all to partake of it in remembrance of Him. Even then, they did not understand that He was soon to be sacrificed, to shed His blood, just like that first Passover lamb.

Why would Jesus, the Son of God, need to eat the Passover meal before going to the cross? It was because He was also a man and needed strengthening for what He would soon face. When He partook of the lamb that had been prepared, it was to strengthen Him to be able to be in full agreement with His Father’s will, to die on the cross as the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world, to become sin for us, to finish the work He was sent to this earth to do. He was also identifying with the lamb that they were eating, knowing that it represented Him.

Shortly after supper, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He left them and went on further to commune with His Father privately, and there He prayed in agony alone, to let the cup pass from Him if at all possible. After the third time of intercession, Jesus said to His Father, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Immediately after rejoining His disciples, the soldiers came to arrest Him, and Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. But Jesus went with them willingly to do the Father’s will. He had won the victory in the Garden, for He had been strengthened by the table that was prepared for Him.

Each of the disciples was also in need of strengthening by partaking of the Passover lamb, the life and blood of Jesus symbolically at that table to prepare them for the battle they didn’t even know they would soon be facing. After Jesus was arrested, they would be in fear of their own lives too. They did not yet know the victory of the resurrection. Even Judas was given an opportunity to partake of the wine and the bread at that table as Jesus passed it around. Did the disciples have to be worthy to partake of the Passover meal? No! It was the lamb that had to be worthy. The Lamb had to be perfect, without blemish or spot. None of us are worthy of that sacrifice that Jesus made for us but His blood makes us worthy. As Christians we do not observe Passover. Instead, we partake of communion in remembrance of the Lord’s death, but also to celebrate His resurrection and second coming. This was explained to us by the apostle Paul in I Cor. 11:23-26 as it had been revealed to him: “For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords death till he come.” He could not be coming back for us if He had not risen from the dead. Each time we partake of communion we remember not only that He died for us but that we live because He lives and that He is coming back. We are strengthened as we feed upon the Bread of Life that was broken for us. Everyday we face our spiritual enemy, Satan, so we must also feast on the Bread everyday by reading the scripture, thus eating from our table that our Shepherd has prepared for us in the presence of our enemies.