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  • Writer's picturePastor Rachael Chinnery Todman

Real Life, Real issues: Family

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow (or pursue) me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place (AMP).

The goal of this reflection is twofold. First it is to bring us to an understanding that God invites all of us who have sinned against Him to His table. It is at His table that He lavishes his love of acceptance on us sinners. He prepares a table before us in the midst of our family issues good or not so good, in troubles, in the midst of our distresses, in the midst of our doubts, in the midst of our failings and failures, in the midst of our sorrows and says, “I love you. I know you. I’ve called you by name. No matter what, you are Mine.”

Secondly, it is to understand that God’s goodness pursues us all the days of our lives through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The reading of Psalm 23 is steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition to be read when someone dies or is very sick. However, the backdrop of this poem/song is rooted in a family breakdown, or what we call today “family issues.” This breakdown happened in David’s family.

David is credited as the author of this song. He was the second king of national Israel. He is most known as the shepherd boy that killed Goliath. Many years after this victory, David went on to become the person God anointed to be king after Saul. In the reign of his kingship, David sinned against his neighbor and against God. He committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife, impregnated her, then killed her husband and married Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah according to 2 Samuel Chapters 11-12.

God was not pleased with David and said to him, “Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view” (2 Samuel 12:11 NLT).

How many of us know that some of our problems or situations we encounter in our families are a result of seeds that were sown generations before us? Or seeds we ourselves have sown? Sometimes we have forgotten when, where or how we have sown them. However, seeds have a fault - they sprout and grow, and bear fruit after their kind.

While God had forgiven David for his sin, the consequences of the sin were still there to be reckoned with. God spoke and God never goes against His word. Years later we find David running from his son Absalom, who had performed a coup to dethrone David from being king. Prior to this coup, Absalom had turned rogue, because he had killed his brother for raping his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13).

Now David finds himself in the wilderness once again running for his life - this time from his own son Absalom. From David’s experience he opens his heart and soul. He pens these words that have become immortal in the life of the human race. He begins by declaring who God is in his life. He declares that God, Yahweh, Jehovah is his shepherd. His worship of God is very personal indeed. It is a song of confidence. David is recounting his trust in God, drawing on his former vocation as a shepherd to show us a picture of the character of the God he loves and worships. One of the astounding things seen in the Psalm is that the sheep are constantly living in the presence of the shepherd. David opens the Psalm with the words “The Lord is,” and ends it with, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He bookends the word “Lord” pointing us to the fact that life must be lived in the presence of the Lord, like the sheep living under the protection of the shepherd.

This psalm has served many generations bringing comfort, giving hope and peace to many who seek after the Lord. However, our focus today is on the phrase, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

As stated earlier, David is running from his son Absalom who has become David’s enemy. There are many different kinds of enemies we encounter in our life and in our family life. Here we find David driven in the wilderness by his son’s rebellion. David is in the desert. He is hungry, he is tired, his army is not whole, and it is fragmented. 2 Samuel 17 tells us that three men who were not even Israelites came to David’s rescue.

Let us picture the scene in 2 Samuel 17:28-29 through our minds' eyes and feel the graciousness of a loving shepherd Who has now become a gracious host using three people who do not look like you.

“...Brought beds, basins, earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans, lentils, parched [pulse—seeds of peas and beans], 29 Honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of cows for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, The people are hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness” (AMP).

And David declares that Yahweh, Jehovah prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies. Yahweh provides food. Yahweh provides. Yahweh leads and protects - this God is a gracious God. Out of His graciousness, he becomes a gracious host to David and the people with him in the midst of the wilderness.

The Apostle Paul echoes David’s feelings when he said, “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (AMP). Our God is a provider.

Finally in verse 6 of Psalm 23 David said, Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow (or pursue) me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

David’s life was marked. It was riddled with rejection and disappointment. I am sure you can relate to these feelings at one point in your life. I know I can.

David's rejection by his son is not new to him and yet it is new because it's coming from his own son. David was discounted when Samuel went to anoint the next king of Israel [1]

He was ridiculed by his brothers when he stood up and said “I will fight Goliath” [2] His wife Michal rejected him when she saw him worshiping God in total abandon [3] His leader, his king tried to kill him because of jealousy.[4] And the list of rejection, disappointment and hardships in David’s life goes on. David had a lot of grief in his lifetime. Despite the hardships and challenges he suffered, his faith rested in God’s goodness. We see it in his statement, “Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow (or pursue) me all the days of my life.”

David is literally saying, God’s goodness and mercy shall pursue him. Remember his enemies were pursuing him but now he says, “God you will pursue me.” It was his enemies who wanted to destroy David and dethrone him from the place God had placed him. However, from David’s word, we can hear the desire of his heart to return to the house of God. He said the house of the Lord, and the presence of God would be his dwelling place.

I believe the only way a person can proclaim this word of faith and mean it, is due to the fact that the person has come to the place in their walk with God, in knowing beyond the shadow of any doubt that the goodness of God is greater than any rejection, disappointment or hardship that one could face in life. No matter what we face in this life, know that God is greater. God the good shepherd has demonstrated his love for us through Jesus Christ. Jesus the son of man identified with our heartaches. He was rejected. He suffered injustice. He was betrayed and he was denied by those closest to Him. He was hungry, grew tired, with no place to lay his head. In essence He was homeless. Jesus knew what He was enduring was temporary. When we suffer, we tend to forget that suffering does not last forever. So I encourage you that when we are faced with suffering, whether it is emotional or physical, let us call to mind the goodness of God and allow Him to prepare a table before us, keeping in mind that His goodness is pursuing us. And let us respond with worship and gratitude as David did.

My prayer is that this will be our desire as well, to be in the presence of God all the days of our lives. Not just in a building made of brick and steel, but in holy reverence of the worship of God in our inner man. Jesus said, “the Father is seeking worshipers that will worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Let us tap into the Holy Spirit of God who lives on the inside of us - in our inner man. When we encounter the God who leads, protects and provides for us, our response must be to worship not only with our mouths, but with our entire body, so that His purpose will be realized in us and through us in the earth realm.


[1] 1 Samuel 16:1 - 11

[2] 1 Samuel 17:28 - 29

[3] 2 Samuel 6:16

[4] 1 Samuel chapters 19 - 21

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