The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over. – Psalm 23:1; 5
When most people automatically read a section of Scripture through a metaphoric lens, as is the case with the 23rd Psalm, we take note because it is not common. The Psalmist wrote Psalm 23 from the perspective of a sheep. The metaphoric assumption is due to the simple fact that we Homo sapiens are not Ovis aries (domesticated sheep). We are highly confident that it was a human being who rendered these words into poetic verse. So, clearly, the author intended the psalm to be read metaphorically. Yet, this psalm takes on deeper meaning when we think on some of its verses in a literal setting.
Using this literal approach, the fifth verse, printed above, particularly strikes me. The “enemies” of sheep are those predators that will eat them and the “table” is a lush green pasture. So, the image the psalmist creates here is that even though the wolves, coyotes, lions, and bears are within eyesight of the sheep, the sheep get to enjoy the goodness that the shepherd provides for them in safety. One could imagine the sheep taunting their predators because they know they are safe as members of the shepherd’s fold.
When we return to the metaphoric lens of our slightly less wool-covered lives, we find a glorious message. Jesus, our Shepherd, provides for our needs. He even does so within sight of our enemies of Sin, Death, and the Devil. Even though the enemies might frighten us, we can rejoice and be confident for Jesus has conquered them. In fact, in his name, we can mock them and their lack of power over us because Jesus is our Shepherd.
May God continue to be with you,
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+