[ecko_quote source=" Psalms 23:5"]You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies[/ecko_quote]
The next step in the Good Shepherd’s training of the sheep is the preparation of a banquet table. The verse five says “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”. Why is the table prepared in the midst of my enemies? So, I can invite them to come and eat with me! That is a pretty potent reminder that the Lord’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
When I first became a King’s kid, I had an enemy. However, I had committed myself to being a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only (James 1:22), and because he had despitefully used me, I made myself pray for him ( Matthew 5:44). It was not exactly a joyful or a sincere prayer at first. It was one of dogged obedience. I had say, “ Lord, bless so and so”. Even while I was praying, I had been hoping He would not do it. However, eventually the grace of God got through to me, and I worked up to the point where I could meet the man on the street and not send flaming darts in his direction. As I followed the instructions in the Manufacturer’s Handbook (Bible), the hate left me. And after I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, the impossible happened. Love took the place of hate.
Now, I am not pretending perfection here. Paul confessed that he had not arrived all the way (Phil 3:13), but he knew he was headed in the right direction, and we can know it too. Circumstances can set in and I can crank up an instant poor-me pity party. When things go bad, and trust me they will, our most common response is to start having a poor me pity party. But it is soon called off as the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am only a dumb sheep and that the Good Shepherd who loves me is in charge of everything that happens to me. For that, I can say, “Praise the Lord”- and I do. That effectively douses any pity party and turns it into a glory party with the Lord himself providing the refreshments. A glory party is better that a pity party any day.
Do you remember all the bad things that happened to God’s servant Job? Every kind of disaster you can name; his children were killed, his cattle were destroyed, he broke out in boils, and his wife told him to drop dead. As if that was not enough, his former friends turned into such creeps; he had no need for enemies. Instead of comforting him in his afflictions and distresses, they told him it was all his fault.
It is a long story, and you can read all about it in the Manufacturer’s Handbook in the Book of Job. However, what’s relevant here is that in the end, God had Job pray for his “friends”, and God sent the “friends” out to get the steaks for a party (Job 42:8). Moreover, the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. Also, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
To be continued...