Eating with the Enemy
By Erin Bird
Let’s jump right in as we continue in our series on Psalm 23. We have made it to verse 5, which says:
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Let’s look at the first phrase this week: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
On the day I write this, I had soup and grilled cheese for lunch. Combining the two-and-a-half minutes it took to microwave the soup and the three minutes it took to butter some bread and cut six slices of pepper jack cheese, I was sitting down to eat in roughly 5 minutes. Had I chosen to swing through the Burger King drive-thru or simply rip open a protein bar package, I would have had my food even faster.
However, if I had tried to enjoy the same meal in King David’s day, the soup might have taken 30-60 minutes to prepare (or maybe even longer). I wouldn’t have been able to pull two slices of bread out of a plastic bag, I would have had to make the bread at another time, then slice it myself. I would have had to make my own cheese or barter with someone who could have made it for me. And of course, I would have had to start a fire so I could make the soup and “grill” my sandwich. Just to make myself a simple lunch would have probably taken a good portion of my morning.
So when David said that God prepared a table before him, it wasn’t a quick event; it meant David sat and lounged, waiting while the food was being prepared and brought out to the table.
Not Comfort Food
While reclining at a table while God prepares a meal sounds very relaxing, remember David says God does this kind act “in the presence of my enemies.” I don’t know about you, but it’s a bit uncomfortable to be around people who don’t like you. Can you imagine sitting at a table where your fellow occupants wish harm upon you? Yet David seems calm. How can he be at such peace with evildoers glaring at him with malicious intent?
It’s all based on where he is looking.
If David put his eyes on his enemies, he would probably quake in fear.
If he put his hope in the food that was to come, he would be temporarily distracted from his enemies, but be reminded of their presence as soon as the food is gone.
The only way David can experience peace in the presence of his enemies while patiently waiting for the food is to keep his eyes on the one preparing everything. David just reminded himself in verse 4 that God was with him, and that hadn’t changed even while sitting at a table where enemies gave him death stares.
I don’t know what “enemies” you are facing right now, but I want you to know that God is with you. If all you do is stare at your problems, you’ll continue to have anxiety. If you look for comfort in some sort of “food,” (entertainment, substances, etc.), the “enemy” will still be sitting there waiting for the moment to pounce. The only way to find “a peace that surpasses understanding” while eating with the enemy is to keep your eyes on God. It may seem like He’s taking a long time to provide the “meal,” but be patient and be calm. Your God is with you.
Comfort Through the Cross
Don’t forget: Your ultimate enemy is sin. Yet sin was defeated through the cross and empty tomb. But that’s not all. Jesus then said right before His ascension that He would be with you even to the end of the age. So take Him at His word. Trust the One who has defeated the worst enemy of all, so you can find peace in his presence, even when you find yourself dining with the devil.