David: Thou Preparest a Table in the Presence of Mine Enemies
How very like David the king this statement is. David knew all about enemies. His whole life he was surrounded by enemies. The ravenous beasts who wanted his sheep were the enemies of his childhood. And what a childhood it was! After the lions and bears came Goliath, then Saul, the Philistines, the Ammonites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, palace plotters, one of his own sons, and finally, old age. When David wrote of enemies he knew whereof he spoke. He lived his life in the presence of enemies.
It is no wonder then that he speaks of God’s loving providence in the midst—not in the absence—of enemies. David never said God would give me a life without enemies. He did say that God has not forsaken me when gossipers and detractors and envious plotters are circling me like hungry wolves.
As a university president and as a businessman, I frequently needed cash flow projections from my chief financial officer. In order to understand those projections I had to know the assumptions they were based on. Likewise, the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 are based on a certain set of assumptions.
Here are the seven assumptions of the Lord’s Prayer.
- There is a God and He is our heavenly Father.
- He is worthy to be praised.
- He is our king and He has a will for our lives now, not just later in heaven.
- We must eat to live, and we can trust Him to eat.
- We have all sinned and need forgiveness.
- We must forgive to be forgiven.
- We will face temptation and evil.
Here are the seven assumptions of Psalm 23.
- The Lord is a good and caring shepherd-provider, even as I am a needy sheep.
- I have needs in my body such as food and water.
- My soul also has needs such as restoration.
- I live in a confusing world and I need guidance.
- I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (The psalmist assumes that it is a matter of when, not if.)
- There will be times I need comfort and protection.
- I will (not might) have enemies.
This last assumption is probably the most painful to learn. When I was young—and I believe many young folks feel this way—I thought that if I was a nice person I would not have enemies. Now I see that nothing you do can keep someone else from deciding they are your enemy. You may indeed make enemies with your own actions, but you are likely to have enemies regardless of how nice or good or generous or anything you are. It is so hard for those who desire to be no one’s enemy to realize that they themselves have enemies not of their own making. On the other hand, it is a joy to realize that though I may be absolutely surrounded by enemies, I am not abandoned. Even in their mocking presence, I am loved, guarded, and provided for by my Father and Shepherd.
Excerpt from 21 Seconds to Change Your World, by Dr. Mark Rutland
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