Our Servant – Shepherd Spreads A Table
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
The long night of darkness has disappeared, and the light of day has dawned. The sheep has passed safely through the ghostly shades of the valley, and has emerged with victory through the Shepherd’s might. The night prowlers of the wilderness lost their desired prey. The arch-enemy failed to foil the sheep of God. The fast is broken by a royal feast prepared by an unexpected servant — our Sovereign-Shepherd — and in a most unlikely place — “in the presence of mine enemies.” God has unusual surprises for His saints who leave the cares of life to Him, and live in a state of joyful expectancy. The buoyancy of anticipated mercies keeps us from sinking beneath the threatening waves of darkness, and from being swallowed up by the monsters of life’s sea. For the sheep of God the best is always just ahead. The night is on, but “the morning cometh.” “Ye sorrow now, but ye shall rejoice.” “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” “We sow in tears,” “we shall reap in joy.”
Cheer up, ye saints of God, “The clouds you so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break with blessings upon your head.” The famine you fear shall suddenly be replaced with a feast of fat things.
Unbelief says, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” This is exactly what He did, and can do again. May God help us to release the pent-up bounties of His grace by breaking the bands of our unbelief. Let us expect great and mighty things of our Saviour-Shepherd, even if He must bring them about in an unusual manner. He is the God of the unusual.
Toiling through the night the unsuccessful fishermen faced the break of day wet, weary, and hungry, with no food in sight. Yonder on the shore stood — perhaps an early customer. “Children, have you any meat?” said the visitor. They answered Him, “No.” And He said unto them, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. “They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it in for the multitude of fishes. They found, and now the secret was out. Upon their arrival at the shore they found that their Saviour-Shepherd had a feast prepared of fish they had not caught, and of bread the village baker had not baked.
On other occasions our Lord prepared a spread in the desert place. Let God be God that He may strengthen our faith by surprising us with the unusual. The crime of modern religion is that of trying to put God in a rut. Sectarian stereotype would take all the surprises out of faith. What is it to us if the Lord wills to feed his servant with “bread and flesh” brought in the beaks of ravens, or with pleasant cakes cooked from flour taken at the bottom of a widow’s barrel?
In The Presence of Mine Enemies
Our Lord loves to work wonders for His saints in the presence of their foes. He loves to prove Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him. Our enemies who accuse, and would put us to shame, are put to shame in our presence, if we will permit our Lord to fight our battles. Nothing incites our Lord to action more than the challenge of our enemies against the faith of His saints.
A mighty famine prevailed in Israel. The enraged king wished to lay the blame on Elisha, the man of God. The king said, “God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.” The murderous king sent his messenger of death to take the prophet of God. Then Elisha said, “Hear ye the word of the Lord; thus said the Lord, tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” II Kings 6:31; 7:1, 2.
By an extraordinary miracle wrought in the providence of God, the thing came to pass as the man of God had spoken, but the blasphemer was trampled to death by the crowd who came to purchase food.
Our Saviour-Shepherd had fasted and prayed during the long night of His wilderness temptation. He withstood Satan and remained in the place of testing until the Father’s time was fulfilled. The angels came and spread a feast for Him in the presence of the slinking Satan.
Some would have us believe that the metaphor of sheep is dropped at this point, but Orientals contend that this is not the case. The word here for table means, “that which is spread out.” Out from the darkness of the valley and in the face of vicious foes the good shepherd leads his sheep to a table land of tender grass. He prepares the table by going before and driving away lurking reptiles and crouching beasts.
Ere long our Servant-Shepherd shall appear in the glory of His kingdom. Then He shall gird Himself and serve His saints at the banquet of the Marriage Supper where the sorrows and sighs of the yester-years shall be forever forgotten in the Father’s House of abounding plenty.
“He is the God of boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small; our expectations are too limited. He is trying to lift us up to a higher conception, and lure us on to a mightier expectation and appropriation. Oh, shall we put Him in derision? There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El-Shaddai; and there is but one measure here given for His blessing; and that is “according to the power that worketh in us.” — A. B. Simpson
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Hab. 3:17,18.