In the Presence of My Enemies 

Psalm 23 ends with God stating what is always true. A feast is always available for the sheep of God’s pasture. This psalm reminds us that no matter what our circumstances appear to be, the good Shepherd is always caring for his sheep.  

What does this mean when you inhabit the dark valleys of life?  The human heart is capable of journeys immeasurable delight and equally immeasurable despair. David, the shepherd, the king, the father, the sinner knew these highs and lows. He danced with joy and he wept bitter tears of loss. He won conquests against overwhelming odds. However, he, like us, often lost his battles with his flesh. As this psalm says, David knew the peace of God’s green pastures and the terror of the dark valley.  

What he learned from God’s truth is that even when he was in the fog of the dark valley, he was still cared for by the Lord, his faithful Shepherd.  He still experienced the contentment of God’s good care. When anxiety came, when disappointments became heartbreak, the truth of this psalm sustained David. 

In the presence of the fears that overwhelm us, God has prepared a magnificent table spread with his bounty to sustain us:

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

From God’s perspective, these words are reality. This beautiful table is always there for you. Jesus, your Shepherd, knows exactly what you need, so he has prepared exactly the right blessings designed uniquely for you. He knows what you need because he has been tempted in all the ways that you are tempted. He experienced this so that he can be your sympathetic high priest and loving shepherd. His table of blessing is filled with what you need to bring honor to God. 

If you are a 10-year-old and feel like no one cares. If you are a mom, wiped out from the battles of life. If you are a teenager who believes no one gets you. If you are flooded with fears and anxiety your faithful God, your Savior has prepared a table for you in his green pastures.  Here, the waters of his Spirit overflow. His message is constant. The nearness of God is your good.

David looked at life’s good times and hard times with a singular focus. He was driven by bringing honor to God, even after he sinned, even after his failure. 

David knew that the relentless of loving-kindness of God would always pursue him. This brought great comfort to David. It centered his life. It is this trust in the constant care of the Lord, his Shepherd, that sustained David. It is the trust in God that Psalm 23 teaches that marks David as a man after God’s own heart.

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.