Terry R. Baughman
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over” (Psalms 23:5).
In the presence of an enemy one does not expect to find anything constructive. We keep our guard up. With a watchful and wary eye we are alert to any sudden move or offensive action. Our senses are tuned to be alert for verbal attacks or underlying innuendos against our character. Instead of seeking occasions to interact with an adversary we are more prone to avoid these associations and distance ourselves from those with whom we have had conflict.
Sometimes it is impossible to avoid association with those who have opposed us, criticized us, or even attacked us. This is the situation David found himself in during his flight from King Saul of Israel. In order to escape the angry king he found himself knocking on the door of Gath, seeking refuge in the hometown of Goliath, the giant he had slain in battle. To prevent being killed as an enemy of the Philistines he feigned insanity, drooling at the mouth and rambling nonsense. As a result he was admitted to the enemy camp, protected from the pursuers of King Saul, and his life was spared. From the king’s residence to a Philistine city, from a palace with royalty to a deserted cave with a band of outlaws, David knew what it was like to be in the presence of an enemy. He found that God could bring a positive outcome and blessing even when surrounded by adversity.
In the twenty-third Psalm David sang praises to the Shepherd who directed his life and accompanied him along the way. On perilous paths or by the peaceful waters David found that God was with him. He acknowledged that even “in the presence of my enemies” God had taken care of him. He said, “You prepare a table before me… You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over” (Psalms 23:5). David found provision, blessing, and an overflow of God’s presence during the most difficult times of his life.
These three things can also be experienced as we are led of the Lord in the presence of adversity:
1) Provision - The table of provision is not limited to safe environs amongst harmonious associates. Sometimes His grace is seen in greater measure when our need is the most significant. God will provide even “in the presence of my enemies.” Paul said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
2) Blessing - It is God “who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). His blessing is not dependent on the endorsement of friends or contingent on the actions of foes. David saw the blessing of the Lord like the anointing of oil that came with his call to serve as the King of Israel.
3) Abundance - Adversity does not hinder God’s ability. He is a God of abundance. He is not limited in anyway; neither does He ration out answers to prayers nor set a quota on how much of His Spirit may be experienced. Jesus is the One “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
In reflection on God’s provision and blessing David remarked, “My cup runs over.” As we experience God’s grace in the presence of adversity we will find there is an abundant overflow of God’s provision and His blessings. We are living in the overflow!
“You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, For so You have prepared it.” (Psalm 65:9).