Psalm 23: A God Who Prepares

Psalm 23:5 - 6

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and steadfast love will hunt me down all my days, and I will return to the house of the LORD for forever."

These last two verses in the Psalm highlight God our shepherd as a generous host. He prepares and provides more than enough for us. This is seen by the fact that our cup "overflows." It is not merely half full, or even full to the brim, but it runs over, there is more than enough. Our arrival at the end of this Psalmic journey is to none other than the "house of the LORD." For a shepherd and their sheep this may refer to a safe arrival back home on the ranch, but for us, this is a solid reminder that God is committed to his covenant. In Exodus 6:7 God appeared to Moses and told Moses the end goal of his deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt. He said...

"I will take you to be my people and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brought you out from under the burden of the Egyptians."

Now, there is much more specific detail given in the proceeding verses, but one point is clear, God desired a people who would know him, be in relationship with him, and would represent him to the world. Through all of Israel's failings God still had this end goal in mind. A second exodus of sorts occurred, a greater redemption from a greater slave master was performed. The death and resurrection of Christ sets all people who place their trust in Jesus free from not just slavery to sin but the final sentence of death as well. But as you know, as we have discussed in this Psalm, this freedom does not keep us from walking through the dark valleys of life. We will still face frustration, sickness, insult, and many more of the realities of living in a broken world. The main difference is that we do not face these valleys alone. God, our shepherd, is with us, leading and guiding us. More than that, we can rest assured that the final destination is a good place. God does not quit, he is the definition of commitment. That promise, or end goal, that he spoke of to Moses in Exodus 6:7 reappears and is finally fulfilled in Revelation 21:1 -  3. Here John sees the final reality, the end goal of all of God's efforts to restore his creation and his people. it reads, 

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no more sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with humanity. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."

Read verse 3 again. Compare Exodus 6:7 with Revelation 21:3. Back in the book of Exodus the 'dwelling place' of God was a little place within a slightly larger tabernacle (later a temple) called the 'holy of holies.' In that small place is where heaven and earth met. Upon the death and resurrection of Jesus the Spirit of God came to dwell in individual humans, making us the living, breathing embodiment of the temple. During both these times God was still present to lead and guide his people, and like them we are still lead and guided by his Spirit today. As well, like them, we still face trials, tribulations (and pandemics). But we do not face these alone. We face these with certain hope. God has acted in history, he is still acting in history, and the final act, our final destination will be "returning to the house of the LORD" (Ps 23:6) as "the dwelling place of God will be with humanity. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God." (Rev 21:3).

Look for little tastes of this certain coming reality this week. Where do you experience 'heaven' moments throughout your week? Take time for those moments, embrace those moments, and let those times fuel for hope in troubled times. Your journey is not over, but it culminates in the 'house of the LORD,' where you will be 'his people' and he will be 'your God.'

 

 

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