Friday, January 19, 2024

Amidst My Enemies

When we come to the Table and think about what it means to break this bread with Jesus Himself, we are often drawn to the Old Testament images of the Passover and to the New Testament place of the Upper Room. 

But there's another Old Testament image that has always jumped out to me, and it comes from one of the most famous psalms of all time: Psalm 23. 

The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need. You can probably quote the first line or two by yourself, whatever version you're most familiar with. (Most versions read, I shall not want, but I really like the version I quoted above. I haven't exegeted the Hebrew to see which is closer; I'm not sure if it matters so much.) 

Anyway, as David continues pouring out his heart to the Lord in his troubles, he takes a sharp turn and stops talking about the Lord and starts talking to Him - the pronouns switch from "He" to "You." And after he does this, he makes a bold statement: 

You prepare for me a table in the midst of my enemies.

In other words, in whatever trouble David finds himself, God has set this table and called him to come, sit, eat. Break bread. Pour a drink. While the battle rages all around him, while the enemies are pressing in from every side, while arrows are flying dangerously close and the hot breath of pursuit is breathing down his neck, God does this completely unthinkable thing - He sets a table. 

He puts up a little stone to eat on, throws a red-checkered blanket over it, and starts unpacking the picnic basket. He whistles, and David comes running over, only to sit - yes, sit - instead of fight...and feast. 

And not just David. Us, too. You and me. Every single one of us. God has set for us a table in the midst of our enemies, and that table is this one. 

This is our chance to stop, to pause. To take a break from all the battles we've been fighting all week and to gather ourselves, to restore our spirits, to refuel our bodies. This is our chance to sit down for a second and just let the arrows fly, come what may. This is God's table, and God is at it with us, and if this is God's table and God is here, those arrows aren't going to land. Not right now. This is sacred space. 

Even in the midst of war. 

There's plenty to say about Passover. And about the Upper Room. And about that final night before Jesus's ultimate sacrifice. But I love the image of Psalm 23, and I think Jesus - on the eve of His own death, knowing He was just a few breaths away from being in the custody of His enemies - probably thought about this table, too. This table in the midst of our enemies. 

On my toughest days, I am so, so thankful for this table. 

How about you?

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