A PREPARED TABLE
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." Ps 23:5 (NKJV)
Last week while spending time with the Lord He said, “I have prepared a table before you in the presence of your enemies.” WOW! I was excited about this Word as it is a very important Word for the church in this season. As you read this blog I encourage you to have your bible and journal with you, look up every scripture and write down what Holy Spirit is saying to you, especially how He wants you to respond as this Word requires a response!
Psalm 23 is a Psalm of David which reflects complete trust and peaceful confidence in Jesus as our true Shepherd (Jn 10:7), good Shepherd (Jn 10:11), resurrected great Shepherd (Heb 13:20) and returning Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
I am excited to share with you what God has shown me about this Word through prayer and the Scriptures. I was also led to read the chapter entitled, ‘Thou Preparest a Table Before Me…’ from Phillip Keller’s book*, ‘The Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm’. Phillip Keller was a shepherd. As he shares about the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep and the responsibilities of the shepherd we see why Jesus calls Himself a Shepherd and us His sheep. David was also a shepherd and we see his experiences reflected in the writing of the Psalms.
A shepherd leads his sheep up to a high plateau for the summer. These summer ranges are referred to as ‘mesas’, the Spanish word for ‘tables’. These ‘mesas’ are remote and hard to reach, however the sheep owner takes the time and trouble to prepare them for the arrival of his flocks.
Prior to the summer, before the snow melts, the shepherd takes on the task of going ahead of the sheep to survey this rough, wild country, looking it over with great care. Just before the sheep arrive, he will make another trip or 2 to prepare the tableland for his sheep. He prepares by bringing salt and minerals and strategically placing them for the sheep, deciding where camps will be so his sheep will have best bed grounds, deciding where glades and basins can be used lightly or heavily depending on how vigorous the grass and vegetation grows and checking for poisonous weeds so he can plan his grazing program or take drastic steps to eradicate them.
I am going to say a number of times throughout this blog that Jesus came to take away our sin through His finished work on the cross to reconcile us back to God. He is continuing to work in us by His Spirit, to make us holy so that we will be the prepared bride He is returning for. (Rev 19:7-9)
Like sheep, especially lambs, we tend to think that we have to try everything that comes our way, sampling everything just to see what it is like even if we know that it is deadly, destructive and does us no good. However, remember what the Word says:
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David. (Isa 55:1-3 NKJV)
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (Jn 10:10 NKJV)
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:17 NKJV)
John 10:1-30 tells us that Jesus is the True Shepherd, the Good Shepherd and knows His sheep.
Jesus, our Shepherd, has gone before us in every situation, anticipating what danger we may encounter and praying for us that in it we might not succumb but overcome. (Heb 7:25; Jn 17:6-26) He is with us and in us and we are in Him. (Jn 14:20) Jesus has prepared the way through His life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven so that in Him, abiding in Him, following and obeying Him, we can confidently declare that we are victorious over every temptation, sin, circumstance, work of the flesh and scheme of the enemy that we encounter! (Jn 10:4; Jn 14:1-3; 1 Co 10:13; Ro 6; Jn 16:33; Gal 5:16-25)
Another task the shepherd takes on in the summer is to keep an eye out for predators (wolves-Acts 20:28-31, coyotes, cougars & bears). The shepherd goes to great lengths to hunt them down or trap them so that his flock can rest in peace! Usually the predators are up on the rim rock watching every movement the sheep make, hoping for a chance to make a swift, sneaking attack. (1 Peter 5:8) Only the alertness of the shepherd who tends his flock on the tableland in full view of possible enemies can prevent them from falling prey to attack and save them from being slaughtered and panicked by their predators.
Jesus, knows every plan, assignment and work of satan. He has disarmed all principalities and powers. He has been raised from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God in heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And God put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body! (Eph 1:20-23; Col 2:15; 1 Jn 3:8) The church of Jesus Christ has been given authority, wisdom, revelation, knowledge, weapons of warfare and armor so that we will be aware of the enemy’s schemes, trample on serpents and scorpions and overcome all the power of the enemy. (Lk 10:19; Eph 1:17; 2 Co 10:4; Eph 6:10-18; 2 Co 2:11)
At all times we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and walk in intimate relationship with Him. He alone is our place of safety (I encourage you to read my last blog again entitled “God is Our Refuge-Trust in Him Alone”)
It is always the distant sheep, the roamers, the wanderers, which are picked off by the predators in an unsuspecting moment which is why the Lord says many times in His Word that we need to abide in Him and continue to gather together as the body of Christ. (Jn 15; Heb 10:25)
Some sheep become frozen with fear under attack. The same is often true for Christians. When we encounter trials, challenges and tribulations we are often overcome with worry, fear, anxiety, apprehension and dread. Unable to cry out for help, we just crumble under our adversary’s attack. Remember that Jesus is with us, for us and fighting for us. He is on our side. He has overcome and in Him we have overcome. In these circumstances we need to stay focused on Jesus and stay in close, intimate relationship with Him where He can protect us. We need to read His Word daily and spend time talking to Him and listening to Him. We need to gather together as the body of Christ to encourage, exhort and admonish one another. We need to remain united in the Spirit! (1 Sam 17; Ro 8:31; Isa 41:10, 13; Eph 4:3)
I encourage you, before you read further, to declare out loud Psalm 27.
Another task which the shepherd takes care of on the tableland is to clean out the waterholes, springs and drinking places of accumulated debris which may have fallen into the water, repair earth damns and open springs that may be blocked. Jesus came to die on the cross to take away our sin so that we could be reconciled back to God. This is the gospel. The good news about Jesus Christ! (Col 1)
Just because the shepherd has gone ahead and made every possible provision for safety and welfare of his sheep while they are on the summer range doesn’t mean they won’t have problems there. Predators can still attack, poisonous weeds can still grow; storms and gales still come.
Remember that our Shepherd Jesus has made every possible provision to ensure that when we have to cope with satan, sin, self or the world, we have the victory because He has won the victory! Praise Jesus for the cross! It is this attitude of rest in Him, of confidence in His care and His presence that we can have peace even in the midst of our enemies because we are in the care and control of Jesus Who has gone before us and prepared the table in plain view of our enemies.
Jesus, our Shepherd, has prepared a table in the presence of our enemies!
Jesus has paid the price to prepare the table for us. He gave His life for us. He came to earth suffered, died on a cross and then resurrected and ascended into heaven so that in Him we can sit in peace, stand in victory, walk with Him and reign with Him forever!
A Word from the Lord was released at Guelph City Prayer on Friday that confirms and summarizes what I have shared and gives clear direction to us His people.
“My people, my people. It is about to get really bad. Fear not, I have prepared a table in the presence of your enemies. Remember what I said, “I will build my church and gates of hell will not prevail.” You will overcome because I have overcome. Hang on to what you have, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the full armor of God and stand firm. Above all, take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God as your weapon, to defeat the evil one. Stand firm and resist. The battle belongs to the Lord, I will fight for you. Come to the table, and sit in the presence of your enemies. Trust Me. It is going to be difficult, but stand, and sit at the table.”
note *everything that I have learned and written about shepherds and their sheep is from this book
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches...” Rev 2:7