“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Psalm 23:5
Have you ever eaten through a tense meal?
I was blessed enough to grow up in a home where my parents rarely (if ever) fought, and where there was grace for a new day each morning, so I don’t remember a single time where our family meal was uncomfortable or strained.
Sometimes, though, I ate in other people’s houses, where things were stressful or full of angry silence. It was terrible, and my heart hurts for anyone who eats meals like that on a regular basis.
But even if things were tense in your family growing up, or are tense in your family or marriage now, hopefully you don’t consider any of those people your enemies.
David, on the other hand, knew what it was to eat with his enemy.
For a period of time, David served under King Saul. At first, David was a well-regarded member of Saul’s court for slaying the giant Goliath and soothing the king’s temper with his harp. Over time, Saul’s jealousy of David grew, until eventually the king was paranoid, delusional, and dangerous.
1 Samuel 20:25 implies that David had a regular place at Saul’s table. Can you imagine how uncomfortable those meals must have been? Maybe it was even at one of these meals that Saul first tried to kill his son-in-law. We know that it was at a meal that he tried to kill his own son when heir-apparent Jonathan defended his friend and warrior to the king.
He must have known that every meal he survived around Saul’s table was because of the care of a loving and attentive Shepherd. That same shepherd prepared a table for him at the hands of his future wife Abigail when the evil and foolish Nabal refused to share his bounty with David’s men. And the Good Shepherd provided for David again when he was hiding out among the Philistines because it was the one place Saul would not look for him.
So when the Holy Spirit inspired David to write about a table in the presence of his enemies, I’m sure he could relate to that image.
Many years later, David made provisions for someone most others would have seen as their enemy. In ancient times, when there was a shift in power from one king to another, common practice was to kill off the former king’s heirs to secure one’s position. Many kings in the Bible even killed their own siblings out of fear they’d try to take the throne.
This was not the way of King David. Over and over again, he refused to take the life of King Saul, even though God had removed the king’s anointing and given it to David. When Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, he grieved, and killed the man who took credit for their deaths.
And once David’s throne was established, the Bible tells us David asked “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1
How nervous Mephibosheth must have been the first time he approached King David! Surely he must have thought that this man had nothing but harm planned for the handicapped grandson of a former monarch. But he had nothing to fear. 2 Samuel 9:11 says Mephibosheth “ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.”
David did not treat Mephibosheth as an enemy. He prepared a table for him.
I don’t know who you’ll be preparing a table for today. Maybe it’s someone you love. Maybe it’s someone who has been treating you more like an enemy.
Do it anyway, and let God’s love shine through you.
This post is part of a 31-day series. A list of all the other posts in this series can be found here.