PROVISION IN ABUNDANCE
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." (Psalms 23:5)
INTRO: What are the basic needs of life? What are those things that you need to sustain life? We may refer to things like jobs, cars, houses, and the like as the things that we really need in life. But in reality we need much less. We know that we need shelter and we need a certain amount of rest. But there are some other needs that are even more basic. We have a need for food and water. Without something to eat and drink, we cannot survive very long.
Our Lord has determined to give us the things that we need. Philippians 4:19 says, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." But as we quote this verse, we should be reminded that the supply that comes from our Lord gives in the context of verse 19 is that the Philippians were being faith in suppling Paulís needs and that of other churches. Spiritual reward is what spurs men to serving the Lord and holds them to the task.
This verse is not a blanket promise to supply a believerís needs apart from their faithfulness to the Lord. God cannot bless those who are unfaithful in their assembling themselves together in the Lordís assembly. Nor can He bless those that do not trust Him in their finances and giving, of being thankful, and living seeking His will in their lives.
In verse 5, the Psalmist says that he can depend on the Great Shepherd to supply the food and water that is necessary for life.
The great shepherd supplies our needs
The great shepherd provides relief from life's annoyances
The great shepherd blesses us beyond our expectations
The great shepherd supplies our needsI. Thou Preparest A Table Before Me. The shepherd has the responsibility to see that his sheep have food and water in ample supply. He will find the pastures that will provide best for his sheep.
We remember from the previous verse that the shepherd would lead his sheep through the deep valleys to the mountains on the other side in search of suitable pastures for the summer.
The best pastures for sheep in this country and in many parts of the world are the high flat mountain pastures. You have heard the expression "tablelands" which refers to these pastures. In some places, this is referred to as a plateau.
In the West, the Spanish word "mesa" which means "tables" is used to identify the high flat land. ( A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller, p. 105.)
How do we know that the Lord has the ability to supply the food that is necessary? We can read in the Scripture about the times he supplied food and drink.
There are two separate occasions in the Bible where Jesus took a small amount of food and multiplied it to feed a multitude. There were 5,000 on one occasion and 4,000 on the other occasion. Jesus is in the business of meeting needs. He is the source of supply.
This verse is not a promise that He will feed us even if we are too lazy to work. But He will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalms 37:25).
1. He went to the cross and suffered and died for you sins. He has provided the means of salvation through His free offer of grace to all who will accept it.
2. He indwells the true believer with the Holy Spirit who guides, brings conviction, and supplies the strength to live our lives in His will.
Do you understand that you need more than physical strength or determination. You need the spirit strength of the Lord. No one accomplishes much without the spiritual determination to go forward. Spiritual motivation is bases on faith and trust.
3. Our spiritual motivation comes from Godís word and His promises in the Bible. We are taught in Godís word how we should live and Godís prinicples of life. If we follow them we reap the blessing of God. If we reject or ignore them we are on our own and we fail.
4. God has given the believer an assembly of other believers where we gather to fellowship, be taught Godís word, learn to be Godís witnesses, learn to be able to teach others and minister to them. Most important we gather to pray and to worship the Lord and give thanksgiving to Him and glory. Oh, what the unfaithful miss and what a lost they and others lose because of their faithfulness.
5. God has given you a Pastor, an undershepherd who deeply cares for you and your relationship with the Lord. He seeks to teach you Godís prinicples so you can live a godly and satisfying live. Yet, so many do not avail themselves of the pastorís ministy God has sent you. Your pastor preaches or teaches three times on Sunday. Yet, many miss the service or chose to come only once. Your assistent pastor prepares and teaches on Wednesday evening yet less that a quarter of the church attends.
God without question wants us to follow him and He seeks to give us His blessing....but we must be willing to accept them?
We always turn to the One that has an inexhaustible supply. We are assured that God will ". . . preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:"
I have fond memories of my father and mother preparing for us children. Dad worked hard and long hours and we never lack anything we needed. We had little extra, but he gave us the necessities of life. My mother, keep the house, kept our clothes clean, and mended, and prepared the food. We ate three meals a day and we always had bisquicks plenty of good food. There was no question they my mom and dad loved us and prepared a proper and adequate table for us. As poor as we were, we never saw bill collecters at our house.
Just as physical food is necessary for our physical health, spiritual food is necessary for our spiritual health. When we do not partake of the "Bread of Life" and the "Water of Life" we will suffer spiritually.
In John 6:48, Jesus said, "I am that bread of life." Revelation 22 tells us of the Water of Life that flows from the throne of life. Is there any doubt the Scripture is speaking of Jesus?
"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Revelation 22:1)
He provides for us now and will in eternity.
Remember the words that He spoke to the woman at the well? John 4:14 says, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
III. "In The Presence Of Mine Enemies."
Just because the shepherd prepares the tablelands pasture for his sheep doesn't mean that there will be no danger. In fact, the meadow of choice may be one that is also the lair of lions or the haunt of wolves.
In the very presence of those enemies, the shepherd leads his sheep and stays with them to protect them as he promised. In the same way, our Lord leads us to the sustenance that we need. His presence give us the comfort and assuance of safety.
Along the way there are problems. But we have the peace of knowing the Lord is walking there with us and that He has been there ahead of us. He has promised to protect us and to care for us.
Read John 17:1-26....the Lordís prayer for us.
Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18)
There are believers who try to make Satan out to be less than a cunning adversary. They visualize him as a bumbling fool that has no power and ability in this world and no sway in the lives of Christians. But we must remember that he is a worthy adversary. He is described In Ephesians 2:2 as, "the prince of the power of the air." 2 Corinthians 4:4 calls him, "the god of this world." He has power to tempt and the ability to bring pain and devastation into our lives. But we also remember that Christ has already won the victory and someday will confine Satan to the pits of hell for eternity.
". . . thou anointest my head with oil" Sheep are bothered all summer long by insects of all descriptions. Flies, mosquitos and other flying insects swarm around the sheep and get into their eyes, nose and ears. They bite the sheep on unprotected skin and burrow through their wool to get to the skin on their neck and head.
ILLUS: Where we live we there many sheep, cattle and horses. I am sure you have watched a cow or horse rubbing against a fence or barn to try and get relief from insects. They are tormented by even the tiniest of these winged creatures.
Sheep will also rub against any object to get relief from biting insects. They will rub against rocks, trees or thrash through thick underbrush to try and get relief from their insect tormentors. Some sheep have even died in the process of trying to relieve their agony by beating their heads against objects.
Since sheep are somewhat timid and are naturally fearful, swarms of insects can so disrupt their lives that they will not eat. Their health will fail and some sheep die as a direct result of insects. The entire flock can get worked into a frenzy because of the presence of flies.
But the shepherd can counter the devastating effects of flying insects by seeing that the sheep get his attention when they are in need. He soothes them by applying oil to their heads. For sheep that have sores from insect bites, the shepherd's touch brings immediate relief. But for those sheep that are anxious because swarming insects are moving in on the flock, the oil that the shepherd applies acts as a repellant. His touch on their heads is a reassurance to them that they need not worry about flying pests.
Do you suffer from irritations in life? Do certain people irritate you? I enjoy the hymn "There is a balm in Gilead." Jeremiah 46:11 says to go to Gilead and take the balm. Balm is the medicine taken from balsam. It has great healing properties. God used it as an illustration to Israel to seek shelter and help from Godís wrath that would be poured on the unbelieving nations.
ILLUS: But as irritating as people and things can be, we have the assurance from God's Word that He will provide relief from the irritations of life. Just as the shepherd comforts his sheep, the Lord is a comfort to us in our times of need. When He walked the earth with His disciples, His presence with them was a continual source of encouragement and comfort. But as He was facing death, there was concern on the part of many people because they felt that they would loose the protection of the Great Shepherd. Jesus told them that He would not leave them without a comforter. In John 14:16, Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
The provision that God often gives is the ability and strength to bare the problems that come our way. Often God doesnít not remove the problem, but provides for us the way of escape.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
V. THE GREAT SHEPHERD BLESSES US BEYOND OUR EXPECTATIONS
". . . my cup runneth over" The cup is often used as a symbol of the bitter experiences in life. But the cup is also used to speak of the joy and blessings that come in life. That is the way it is used here. The psalmist reflected on how God had provided for his every need and how he protected him and guided his steps. He said his life was filled to overflowing with blessings.
This reminds me of my Mom. I talked to her regularly by phone in the years before she passed away. It is a wonderful comfort to know she and my dad are in heaven. Both were godly Chrisitans who loved the Lord and were faithful to Him. Regularly, during our conversations Mom would tell me how "blessed" she was and how much God had blessed her. When others talked to me about Mom they woud almost always mentioned how she told everyone how blessed she was. She also told me how blessed she was because my dad had the foresight to provide her a home and finances to take care of her. He knew he would die first. She said how much the Lord, her family, and church meant to her and the people who call and visit. She even talked about how blessed she was to be able to get her hair to be fixed each week. She praised the Lord for her three boys, who are not perfect, but they loved her. She was blessed and proclaimed it everyone, and praised God for it. Yet, she suffered daily from arthritis, and other health problems and was often in a great deal of pain. She also had a hard time sleeping. But that did not deter her from thanking God for blessing her.
If every evil thing that could happen to you in life fell your lot, couldn't you still say that your life overflowed with blessings? We recall the story of Job and how he lost his family, his possessions and his health. To lose any of those things would be enough to make like miserable. But the Scripture tells us that Job remained faithful and reflected on the blessings that were his. Job 1:21 say, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
CONCLUSION: Do you have what you really need in life? Has God fulfilled His promise to you to supply your every need? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would readily agree that He not only provides for our needs and gives us relief from life's annoyances but that He has also filled our life with blessings and joy beyond our dreams.
Your life has been richly blessed if you have received Christ as your Savior. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, then it is understandable that you may not feel like your life is filled to overflowing. Would you respond to Him in faith today? Would you give Him your heart? Jesus is the one who can give your life meaning. As we sing the invitation hymn, come make your public decision for the Lord and His church.
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