You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
— Psalm 23:5
Have you ever arrived at a banquet or a special event and been surprised at the beauty of the table that has been set up for the occasion? Sometimes a decorative “centerpiece” draws attention to the beauty of the table, but often the table itself is the centerpiece of an event!
There are many reasons why Psalm 23 has sustained people through difficult times, and one of the most hopeful images is that God will prepare a table for us. In the book of Exodus, a similar phrase is used as an instruction to Moses, outlining the expectation that the sanctuary was to include a table set in a certain way, and that the table would only be completely set when “the bread of the Presence” of the Lord was placed on it (Exodus 25:30).
But the table in Psalm 23 doesn’t actually mention any bread. In Psalm 23, God’s presence itself is nourishment, and the bread of God’s presence is experienced in the “goodness and love” that follow us all the days of our lives. The wonderful table is set for us even while we are surrounded by difficulties. Not everything is perfect yet, but as we pass through dark valleys and are taught by the comforting rod and staff of God’s Word, we arrive at a place where we can feast with God. And this feast lasts not just for a day but carries us through all the days of our lives.
Lord, we are humbled and in awe of the table you have set before us. Your presence is at the center of it. May we dwell in your house forever. Amen.