Don’t you love it when you make it through an epic movie full of danger, twists and turns, and the perfect ending is on the other side waiting for you so you can look back and put all the prior pieces together?
The right people get together, the outcome, though different than you imagined, is as it should be.
The angst is removed.
Questions are answered.
Things begin to make sense.
And you’re glad you watched ’til the end.
You know what I’m talking about.
That’s where we’re at with Psalm 23 today.
This is my very favorite part!
In. The. World.
Remember where you’ve been?
You just came through the “valley of the shadow of death” in verse four, where evil was lurking all around you in the mountains that surrounded your path.
But you knew the comfort of your Shepherd.
Your Constant Companion.
You could “fear no evil” because He was with you.
You weren’t sure where you were headed and what was just past these mountains of difficulty and this valley of dark shadows.
Faith became intense and real life.
You learned to walk without seeing, trusting the eyes of your Shepherd. Leaning on His sense of direction. Believing that He knew the way through this blackness.
And just about the time that you became accustomed to this level of trust in your given situation, everything suddenly shifts.
Enter, verse 5:
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
As you emerge with Jesus out of the dark valley that has tested your faith and changed you in the process, you see something in the distance.
People and things. People and things that you would normally be intimidated by. Things that in the past had played with your emotions and had evoked fear and anxiety.
On the other side of the valley, in the light of day, these enemies still exist?
That hardly seems fair after all you’ve been through, and you are just about to let Your Shepherd hear your thoughts on the matter.
But as you approach these familiar enemies, you see that they aren’t looking at you. Each one of them is stopped in their tracks. They are all gathered around an intimate table for two set with all the food and drink and beauty you could imagine.
You’ve never seen anything like it.
And when you catch your breath and pinch yourself to make sure that it’s all real, it hits you.
This is way better than nibbling at green pastures.
This is a table set, it seems, not for a sheep, but for an honored friend.
A homecoming feast.
In the transformation that happened in that valley, you went to the next level of intimacy with your Shepherd.
You became His friend, and He became yours.
You learned to trust Him.
To listen to Him.
To depend on Him to get you through the darkness.
And now this!
“In the presence of your enemies” you take a seat at this glorious table.
The enemies are there but you are not afraid. They have no place at this table.
They are just people and things that have been stripped of the power they once had over you.
It’s just you and Jesus at this beautiful table.
Face to face, eye to eye.
Eating together, talking.
Reminiscing about the valley and how far away it all seems now.
And you’re so very glad you didn’t give up. That you trusted your Friend to the end of that path.
He did not disappoint.
He reaches over and fills your glass. He says something about the juice coming from a Vine, but says that’s a story for another day. All you know is that it’s delicious.
You keep drinking and He keeps filling that cup. You can’t keep up with the goodness and it spills all over the table.
A glorious mess of love and mercy and grace.
He gets up and reaches for something. He walks behind your seat and begins to work some type of oil into your scalp.
An intoxicating fragrance that smells like blessing.
It is more than you could ever have imagined while you were in that dark valley.
Over. The. Top.
You can’t help it. Your eyes close in thankfulness as you take it all in.
And you break out into song:
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Thank you, Jesus, for the breathtaking light at the end of a very dark tunnel…