God, Our Gracious Host
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup overflows.” -Psalm 23:5
Up until this point in Psalm 23, the focus has been on God as our good shepherd. There is a bit of a switch, however in verse five. God is no longer depicted here as a shepherd and us as sheep; rather, God is a host and we are his guests. He will “prepare a table before me.” According to the NIV commentary on Psalm 23:5, “To accept another as a guest at one’s table was to set aside enmity and to assume responsibility for the safety of the guest while in your dwelling. To sit at Yahweh’s table is to enjoy fellowship and communion with him.” Not only will God lead us as a shepherd leads his flock, but He will also invite us into his tent and eat with us. God is not an angry, distant God who is just waiting to condemn us for our sins. He is a loving, welcoming God, preparing a meal for us to eat with him and inviting us into his presence. And He does this “in the presence of my enemies.” God does not just show us his grace in private when we pray alone; God sets up his table for all to see, so that those who are against him will see his kindness and mercy.
We do not deserve all of the blessings that God offers to us. Like a parent spoiling a child, our God gives us so much more than we could ever want, need, or deserve. He pours until our cups are overflowing, and He does this in the presence of our enemies in hopes that they might see the loving-kindness of God and turn to accept His grace as well. So because we have a God who freely offers us a meal in his presence, let us “enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4)