Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Lent mid-week 5

Mid week Service 5
March 24, 2004
Psalm 23:5 (KJV)

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoitest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

The Good Shepherd sets the table

“Let’s run the table!” That’s a phrase used in sports, which would suggest to us “Let’s get out there and win!”  “Let’s run the table” -Go for it all, and win the ultimate prize!  As we are nearing the completion of the NCAA men’s and women’s national tournament there are many wondering which team will run the table. Which team will pull out all the stops and emerge as champions.

Regardless if you interested in sports or not our Lord and Savior has “run the table” for us. He has offered for us salvation and life on a table of sacrifice, namely the cross. In the fifth verse of Psalm 23, our Psalm for this year’s Lenten observance, David speaks of a table set before us by the Good Shepherd Himself. Here we might recall a banquet hall where a feast, fit for a king has been spread before us. This evening we see how the Good Shepherd has set a table before us.

Participation – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

 Notice how highly David magnifies the Lord. He recalls how gracious God has been. Consider what the Lord has bestowed on him (v. 5): "Thou preparest a table before me;”

David says in essence: “Lord, You have provided me with everything pertaining both to life and godliness.” All things needed for both the body as well as the soul are given by the Shepherd’s caring hand.  His benefits are not only for this life they spread well into eternity.  Such a bountiful benefactor is God to all His people; and because these blessings come from God David is called upon to utter thanks for His great goodness.  David acknowledges two realities:

A. That he had food conveniently given to him; a table spread, a cup filled, meat for his hunger, drink for his thirst. What is it that Christ has given to you? Luther explains in the explanation to the 1st Article of the Apostles Creed: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; also, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life, that He protects me from all danger, and guards  and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”[1]

B. David acknowledges that the Shepherd had this table carefully and readily provided for him. His table was not spread with any thing that came haphazardly; rather God prepared everything for him. The Shepherd provided for all of his needs and prepared it before him. Under the heading “daily bread” Luther lists just some of the gifts and blessings the Good Shepherd provides for us each and every day: What is meant by daily bread? —Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like”.[2]

Preparation – “Thou anoitest my head with oil.”

Samuel anointed David to be the king over all of Israel. To be anointed was an outward sign not only of God’s acceptance but more then that, it gave recognition that he alone was to be ruler and king over Israel. Jesus was anointed at His baptism when He was recognized as being the one sent by the Father to begin the work of redeeming the world. On the Mt of Transfiguration the Father spoke His word of approval once again. As the Savior descended from that mountain to the valley of the cross the Father had only one strategy which was to run the table for us on the table-board of sacrifice at the cross.

We are anointed in our own baptism. In the waters of baptism we are buried with Christ into His death and raised to a new life in His resurrection. In baptism we are marked to be included at the dinner table with Christ. In baptism we are anointed to receive an inheritance which leads to eternal life.

This is how the children of God are looked after. Plentiful provisions are made for their bodies, for their souls, for the life that now is and for that life which is to come.  The Good Shepherd has seen to it that we have been blessed and anointed.

 He provides for our daily wants and needs and has seen to it that our spiritual provisions are met also.

Plenty – My cup runneth over.  
Having thought of all the Good Shepherd provided him, David must concluded that he was blessed beyond measure. Not one restriction was placed upon him. was Not once David placed into a crisis wondering if God would provide for Him. Never was he in want but rather he had abundance poured into his lap: "My cup runs over,” David reminds us there is more then enough for my friends and myself too.

Jesus has set a table before us filled with abundance and life. That table has been set before us for us to enjoy every single day. As our Lord and Savior has “run the table” for us, He has offered for us salvation and life on a table of sacrifice, at the cross and empty tomb. What more can we do but to thank and praise serve and obey Him?     

-Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

With me exalt His name!
When in distress to Him I cried,
He to my rescue came.3

1 Bente, F., Concordia Triglotta, (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House) 1997.
2 Bente, F., Concordia Triglotta, (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House) 1997.
3 The Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House) 1942 hymn 29

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