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Psalm 23 for Christmas
By Pastor Philip Howle
posted December 26, 2012
RELIGION – You are reading this Christmas
day, presents might already be opened, you are in your pajamas, and
have a big meal coming, a Christmas meal, one of my favorite parts of
the Holiday. There is family and food, the life that God intended! As
we continue looking at Psalm 23 we move on to verse 5 “ You prepare a
table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
This verse has always thrown me off a bit. David works a sheep and
shepherd metaphor for all that it is worth. We know that sheep don’t
eat at the tables and use cups, so what is David trying to communicate
to us at this point.
Davis is writing to us about that extravagant abundance that we ought
to experience when living life close to the shepherd. As Christians on
Christmas we ought to experience the fullest abundance imaginable. Why?
Because our God is a generous God. Know of course I’m not writing
merely about material things, though He does bless His people
materially. If you are reading this you have a home and a computer. Of
course we ought to on this day more than any other, know that God is
generous with the things that really make life worthwhile: Love, mercy,
compassion, forgiveness, joy, power, victory, and happiness. He pours
out all of these things in abundance.
Sadly, some of us, like spoiled brats that did not get the toy they
wanted this morning, are used to connecting happiness and abundance
with material things. But when we do this we miss out on the biggest
part of God's blessings. This morning if your only blessings are
material ones, I feel sorry for you! Because God’s best gifts are so
Now what about these enemies and this table the shepherd is laying out?
I mean I like to eat, but if I was surrounded by people that wanted to
kill me, I would pass on leisurely eating a sausage ball. A few
weeks back I wrote, during various times of the year, the shepherd
leads his flock to higher ground for better pasture. Phillip Keller
notes that “These high plateaus have been called by the same name for
centuries. In the US, Europe, and parts of Africa, they’re known as
"mesas" — the Spanish word for "table." They've been referred to in
various languages as "table lands” for centuries.”
David mixes metaphors here as he wants us see the image of a shepherd
caring for his sheep and the image of God preparing a banquet for His
people. Keller again notes how “During the spring and early summer a
shepherd would visit the highlands once or twice to get them ready,
knowing that his flock would make this journey in the coming months. He
would prepare the table, so to speak, by pulling weeds and cutting out
the poisonous plants that grow wild in mountain ranges. When the flock
of sheep arrived, everything would be ready.”
But even as the land was ready, so were the enemies ready. They’re
predators up in the mountains that did not live down below, such as
wolves, coyotes, cougars, and bears. To quote Keller again he writes
how the “predators remain on the rimrock, following the flock’s every
movement, waiting for the chance to strike. Though they are always
there, watching and waiting, they’re unable to make a move as long as
the shepherd is watching his sheep.”
Now how does this affect us on Christmas day? God wants you to enjoy
the birth of His son with all the wonderful joy that He can give and
you can handle! I miss my grandmother. When she was alive, she would
pile my plate overflowing with food (now I always managed to handle it
OK!) She was not stingy; none of this “eat that and come back for
more.” Just have all you desire honey!
God wants us to have all that we desire of Him; He is waiting to fill
our plates! Jesus assures us of this in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those
who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.“
But sadly, instead of hungering and thirsting for Jesus, we eat and
settle for the spam sandwiches and stale chips of stuff and money.
These things are our enemy of true joy!
So, have a Merry Christmas! Read Luke 2, pray a big prayer of
thanksgiving with your family, enjoy a good meal, sing happy birthday
to Jesus and enjoy all of God that you can handle today!
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