Approaching the Throne of God: Psalm 23- You Prepare a Table Before Me in the Presence of My Enemies
Consider what sheep must go through: they’re animals who live the majority of their lives outdoors in open plains. They’re susceptible to the elements, but, even worse, to predators. This is the risk of their lives: that a wolf, or a lion, or a bear, or something will attack, capture, or even eat them. And sheep, generally, are pretty defenseless. There is some defense in the flock, some of the more aggressive sheep, rams and older matriarchs of the flock, will try to defend the younger sheep, but the danger is that, even with the superior numbers of the sheep, one will get snatched away from the rest. This is the reality, also, for the shepherd, that he will lose a sheep to a predator. Yet, a sheep, even knowing that enemies are nearby, finds comfort near the Shepherd.
I’m reminded of David’s challenge of Goliath: he told the king of how, through the Lord, he’d killed lions and bears to defend his sheep, retrieving them from the jaws of death, and that the uncircumcised Philistine was no different: God would deliver him from the hand of Goliath, as he had delivered the sheep from the jaws of the predator. How great is this as an image of our Savior? Jesus came to live among us: the Good Shepherd with His sheep. Our enemy is a roaring lion, looking for a soul to devour, and he and his cohorts are constantly prowling, looking for a victim. Yet Jesus came, and conquered sin by offering His own perfect body as a substitute for us, and conquering death by rising again from death. What a savior! He died and rose again, that we may have the newness of life, to the degree where His half-brother, James, states that, should we resist the Devil, he will flee from us! Paul states that, because of our savior, that the God of peace will trample the Devil beneath our feet! What a Shepherd, what a savior! He accomplished this with His own body to bring us home to the Father. What have we to fear from our enemies?
1 Samuel 17:31-49
When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.
And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
Romans 16:17-20, 25-27 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.