Monday, December 11, 2017

Walking With the Shepherd Psalm 23:5 My Provider

My Provider 

Psalms 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

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In the last verse David wrote about the sheep traveling from the winter feeding grounds through the deep valleys towards the cool high mountain pastures.  The journey was dangerous and often times filled with fear, yet it was also filled with times of intimate sharing as the sheep looked to the shepherd for comfort and strength.          Now in verse 5 the valley trip is over as the flock ascends to the high mountain pastures and the David looks out upon a "table" spread before him.

Providing a Pasture

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

The Shepherd prepares the table

The table David speaks of is not the kind humans eat at but the kind sheep eat at.
He is referring to the table lands, a place high in the mountains where there was a pasture prepared by the shepherd for the sheep.

In the desert southwest the Navajo and Hopi Indian who still herd sheep take them in the summer to the mesas. These are flat-topped mountains and they are called mesas which in Spanish means table.
Phillip Keller writes, "So it may be seen that what David referred to as a table was actually the entire high summer range. Though these may have been remote and hard to reach, the energetic and aggressive sheep owner takes the time and trouble to ready them for the arrival of his flocks.
Early in the season, even before all the snow has been melted by spring sunshine, he will go ahead and make preliminary survey trips into this rough, wild country.  He will look it over with great care, keeping ever in mind its best use for his flock during the coming season.
Then just before the sheep arrive he will make another expedition or two to prepare the tableland for them.  He takes along a supply of salt and minerals to be distributed over the range at strategic spots for the benefit of the sheep during the summer.  The intelligent, careful manager will also decide well ahead of time where his camps will be located so the sheep have the best bed grounds. He goes over the range carefully to determine how vigorous the grass and upland vegetation is. 

Jesus' Preparation

Just as the real shepherds, David understood that the Lord, our shepherd, has made preparations for us.  In the New Testament book of John, Jesus himself talks about this preparation.
Scripture John 14:1-5 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  
Jesus was going to his own trial and then to his crucifixion immediately after telling the disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you.”

He prepared us a place by dying on the cross for us. By His death on the cross, he paid the price for our sin, by his resurrection He proved His power over sin, by his ascension He proved his righteousness.

The place Jesus prepared for us was a home in heaven with God but the work of preparation was not building a mansion but opening heaven through his own death for us.

Illustration:  The preparation of Christ for us

The work was not done by Jesus wielding a hammer and nails and putting timber together, but by His allowing a Roman soldier to wield hammer and nails and fasten Him to two pieces of timber fashion into a cross. 

This was part of the preparation that had begun before time.  Part of the plan that the Godhead had determined before the foundation of the world.  A plan that called for Jesus' virgin birth, his humble occupation, his miracles of healing and resurrection, his teaching and feeding the multitudes, his betrayal and arrest.

To prepare eternal life for us, Jesus was taken tried in an illegal court, beaten by his judges, his beard ripped from his face.  He was spit upon, laughed at and mocked as a fool.
Still the preparation was not ended, he went from the Sanhedrin to Pilate, there he was tried and found innocent but not released. Instead Pilate had the soldiers scourge him, whipped with a "cat of nine tails." made of woven leather embedded with sharp rocks, broken pottery and pieces of metal.  They mocked him by taking the branches of a thorn bush and weaving it into a crown then cruelly shoving it down upon his head.  They placed a purple robe on him, bowed down and called him King. 

Still the preparation was not finished, for now they led Him back before Pilate as the crowd called out "Crucify him' and Pilate washes his hand and turns him over to the soldier who led Him to Calvary, the hill of Golgotha.  He walked through the crowds he had once healed, fed and taught carrying his own cross until He falls beneath its weight.  At Golgotha, He lays down upon the rough timbers and his hands and feet are pierced with spikes fastening him to the cross. 

But still the preparation is not finished. For six hours he suffers in  physical torment and emotional pain. His heart literally breaking.  We hear his voice as He calls out "My God, my God why hath thou forsaken me?"   and then "into thy hands I commend my Spirit."  Now finally, the work of preparation is finished.  The shepherd has given his life for the sheep.

Transition:  But let us rejoice because the shepherd did not stay in the ground and with his resurrection and ascension he continues to provide for us. Look at the next thing that David says.

Providing Anointing  

thou anointest my head with oil;

The shepherd anoints the sheep

At this time, in the high mountain ranges, summer is in its fullest bloom.  There is plenty of forage in the pasture prepared by the shepherd. Yet it is at this very time that the sheep often are plagued by small but annoying problems.  If these irritants are not dealt with the sheep soon become discontent and unhappy even sick.

Both Keller and Haboush speak of oil that is carried by the shepherd to anoint the sheep during this time.  The oil is used to heal wounds, skin diseases and also to ward off insects from the sheep's nose and eyes. The shepherds care of his sheep this way prevents their becoming too annoyed and upset.

Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit

Jesus has provided an anointing to comfort us.  The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us to soothe, help and strengthen us in life.

Scripture: John 14:16-18
 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Greek word is paraclete and it means comforter, strengthener, advocate.  Literally it means "one called alongside to help."

Scripture: How the Anointing of the Spirit Helps Us
John 14:26       He teaches, and causes to remember
John 16:13 He guides into all truth
Romans 8:26 He makes intercession
Romans 15:13 He brings us into all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope
Galatians 5:22-23        He brings Fruit, love, joy, peace etc.

Yet even as his child I still may not be comforted.  Why?  I may not be yielding and filled.
I must yield. I must be filled to experience the comfort of the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-20. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

If I do not yield myself to the working of the Holy Spirit, I cannot enjoy the comfort He brings.  If I allow myself to be filled with anger, bitterness, gossip, etc.  I am like the person Paul warns not to be filled with wine.  I am allowing myself to be controlled by something other than the Holy Spirit.
His control and His comfort come through the knowledge of His word, the surrender of my way, and the yielding to His way.   

Illustration: Be quiet cause you sure didn’t get it here.

A man visiting in the local “BIG” Baptist church started saying Amen and Hallelujah in a normally quiet church service.  He got louder and louder until the finally an usher went over to him and asked him to be quiet.  "I can't help it I got the anointing of the Spirit."  The usher harshly whispered, "Well be quiet anyway, cause you sure didn't get it here."
Transition: There is one final phrase in Psalms 23:5,

Providing Peace

He says, “my cup runneth over.”

The Shepherd provides a better life for his sheep

The sheep without the shepherd would be wild. Their life filled with anxiety, danger and pain.  They would not live as long nor would their life be as good while they lived.  Under the care of the shepherd they flourish.

The sheep trust his wisdom, his knowledge and his guidance and in that faith they have good lives, better lives than they could ever have without a shepherd.

The life Jesus provides for us.

This is so true of our relationship with Jesus. The graciousness and generosity of our shepherd overwhelm us as we sit as guests at the table he has provided. My life is so much better because I follow my Shepherd. I cannot imagine my life without Him and pray I never wander far from His care.

Look at the bounty on the table of the Lord.  Look at the richness of our life in Christ
He provides for us…
John 14:27      Peace
John 15:5         Fruitfulness
John 15:11      Joy
John 15:12      Love
John 15:27         Purpose
John 16:13         Truth
John 16:20      Promise
Truly, as David says, My cup runs over.

Illustration: Drinking From My Saucer

I’ve never made a fortune;
I guess it’s too late now
Oh but I don’t worry about that
none cause I’m happy anyhow

As I go along life’s journey,
I’m reaping better than I sow
I’m drinking from my saucer,
cause my cup has overflowed

Ain’t got a lot of riches,
sometimes the goings rough
But I’ve got a friend in Jesus
and that makes me rich enough
I thank God for all His blessings,
and the mercy He’s bestowed
I’m drinking from my saucer,
cause my cup has overflowed

I’ve been through hard trials,
sometimes my faith grew dim
But it seemed like one day
the sun shone through again
So Lord help me not to grumble
about the tough rows I have hoed
I’m drinking from my saucer,
cause my cup has overflowed

And if I should go on living if
the way gets steep and rough
I won’t ask for other blessings
cause I’m already blessed enough
May I never be too busy to
help another bear his load
And I’ll keep drinking from my saucer,
Lord, cause my cup
has overflowed

But there are those who turn from the table of the Lord.

Like spoiled children who will not eat the good things their parents provide and instead desire the empty calories of candy, and junk food.  The result is sickness and ultimately early death.
When we turn away from the bountiful life Jesus Christ provides for us we choose instead the bitter, empty death the world has provided. We turn from hope to hunger from blessing to bitterness, from grace to garbage.

Scripture: Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ

Illustration: The eating of dung by the Samaritans

2 Kings 6:24-25
 And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.  And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.

After years of refusing and ignoring God and worshipping idols this is what they had come to, eating donkeys head and bird dung.  Isn’t this the ultimate reality for those who walk away from the provision Jesus has made for them? Isn’t this where our world is today in the things it values? Nothing but donkey’s head and bird excrement.


Consider His blessings in the life of His sheep.  He has given me...
Righteousness that can never be stained
Rest that can never be disturbed.
Glory that can never be clouded
Light that can never be dimmed
Strength that can never be weakened
Wisdom that can never be baffled
Supply that can never be exhausted
Happiness than can never be saddened
Joy that can never be diminished
Peace that can never be destroyed
Love that can never be measured
Life that can never be ended

I want you to ask yourself,
“What table am I you eating at?” What help do I have? What comfort? And what about the cup of or your life?  Does it overflow with the blessings of God or does it only contain the dregs of sorrow and fear?

Perhaps you need to take the words of our closing invitation and make them your plea to the Lord this morning.

Fill My Cup Lord.

Like the woman at the well, I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking—
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”

Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

So my brother if the things that this world gives you
Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray—

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