Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (ESV). We’ve all heard this probably more times than we can count. But if you’re like me, you probably never really gave it much thought. Well, the other night I read those words again. I wanted to understand what that means for me.
While my father served in Vietnam, I have never been a soldier. I couldn’t begin to tell you what it’s like to be in an actual battle. I know very little about my father’s experiences as he doesn’t really like to talk about them and my curiosity is not as powerful as my reluctance to re-awaken those memories. I know that there are things that I’ve experienced, in much less traumatic situations, that I don’t enjoy bringing up to anyone. From my limited experience with real fear I can tell you that at that moment eating was the furthest thing from my mind. And if I had eaten, it wouldn’t have sat well in my stomach.
When we think of David, we think of his showdown with Goliath. We think of him killing both the lion and the bear to protect his flock. None of those things really demonstrate that he had fear. Yet we know from the scriptures that David, despite his great and heroic exploits, ran in fear of King Saul. He knew not only battle, but fear. But in Psalm 23 he affirms that God has “prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
I’ve acknowledged my love of food here before. And anyone who’s dined with me before could tell you that I don’t typically rush my meals. I’m usually the last to finish. I eat slowly enough to peacefully enjoy every bite. So to read Psalm 23:5 is amazing! I will be able to eat without concern about my enemies! God has everything under control, and I need not give my enemies a second thought. No upset stomach. No Tums. No Pepto Bismol. And better still, my enemies will recognize the peace of God in my life. They will have upset stomachs. They will need Tums and Pepto Bismol. They will be demoralized as the Lord lays out a feast before me.
Or better still, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head and the LORD will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22, ESV). And, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
Take heart in what God has promised, and allow His peace to saturate your entire being. And as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, remember to give thanks that in your struggles and battles, God has given you His peace, and you can dine without fear of your enemies.